State: Texas

Lat/Long: 30.0000, -100.0000

The largest state in the American Union, Texas was originally part of the Spanish Empire. Following the Louisiana Purchase, the future state directly bordered the United States along the Sabine River. When Mexico achieved independence in 1821, the new government encouraged immigration into Texas. This led to a massive increase in the local population but also fostered tensions between the new settlers and the Mexican government, especially because many imported their slaves into the new territory despite Mexico’s ban on slavery. As the region became increasingly Americanized and the United States showed increasing interest in annexation, Mexico prohibited further immigration in 1830. Tensions between American settlers and Mexican authorities escalated as the Mexican government became increasingly unstable, resulting in Texas formally declaring its independence in 1836 and forming the Republic of Texas. Following Sam Houston’s defeat of Mexican President Antonio López de Santa Anna’s forces at the Battle of San Jacinto on April 21, 1836, the two nations signed the Treaty of Velasco, in which Mexico surrendered all claims to Texas. Despite minor Mexican attempts to reclaim Texas, the republic maintained its independence into the 1840s. Many Americans viewed annexation of Texas as a natural next step but sectional tensions over its presumed slave status made such an action controversial. John Tyler made Texas’ admission to the Union one of his primary presidential goals in an attempt to curry Democratic favor after losing the support of the Whigs, and Congress admitted Texas on December 29, 1845. This exacerbated longstanding tensions with Mexico over the status and southern border of Texas, providing the primary impetus for the Mexican War. The subsequent Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo confirmed Texas’ southern border at the Rio Grande River. Texas’ western border within the United States remained disputed until the Compromise of 1850 created the New Mexico Territory and established Texas’ current boundaries. Despite these political and geopolitical tensions, Texas thrived during the antebellum period, rising from 39,000 in 1836 to 604,215 in 1860. The slave population rose from 5,000 in 1836 to 182,000 in 1860. Texas sided with the Confederacy during the Civil War. The state capital is Austin.

T. R. Fehrenbach, Lone Star: A History of Texas and the Texans (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1968), 3-442.