By the end of this section, you will be able to:
- Explain why American settlers in Texas sought independence from Mexico
- Discuss early attempts to make Texas independent of Mexico
- Describe the relationship between Anglo-Americans and Tejanos in Texas before and after independence
As the incursions of the earlier filibusters into Texas demonstrated, American expansionists had desired this area of Spain’s empire in America for many years. After the 1819 Adams-Onís treaty established the boundary between Mexico and the United States, more American expansionists began to move into the northern portion of Mexico’s province of Coahuila y Texas. Following Mexico’s independence from Spain in 1821, American settlers immigrated to Texas in even larger numbers, intent on taking the land from the new and vulnerable Mexican nation in order to create a new American slave state.
After the 1819 Adams-Onís Treaty defined the U.S.-Mexico boundary, Spain began actively encouraging Americans to settle their northern province. Texas was sparsely settled, and the few Mexican farmers and ranchers who lived there were under constant threat of attack by hostile Indian tribes, especially the Comanche, who supplemented their hunting with raids in pursuit of horses and cattle.
To increase the non-Indian population in Texas and provide a buffer zone between its hostile tribes and the rest of Mexico, Spain began to recruit empresarios. An empresario was someone who brought settlers to the region in exchange for generous grants of land. Moses Austin, a once-prosperous entrepreneur reduced to poverty by the Panic of 1819, requested permission to settle three hundred English-speaking American residents in Texas. Spain agreed on the condition that the resettled people convert to Roman Catholicism.
By the early 1830s, all the lands east of the Mississippi River had been settled and admitted to the Union as states. The land west of the river, though in this contemporary map united with the settled areas in the body of an eagle symbolizing the territorial ambitions of the United States, remained largely unsettled by white Americans. Texas (just southwest of the bird’s tail feathers) remained outside the U.S. border.
On his deathbed in 1821, Austin asked his son Stephen to carry out his plans, and Mexico, which had won independence from Spain the same year, allowed Stephen to take control of his father’s grant. Like Spain, Mexico also wished to encourage settlement in the state of Coahuila y Texas and passed colonization laws to encourage immigration. Thousands of Americans, primarily from slave states, flocked to Texas and quickly came to outnumber the Tejanos, the Mexican residents of the region. The soil and climate offered good opportunities to expand slavery and the cotton kingdom. Land was plentiful and offered at generous terms. Unlike the U.S. government, Mexico allowed buyers to pay for their land in installments and did not require a minimum purchase. Furthermore, to many whites, it seemed not only their God-given right but also their patriotic duty to populate the lands beyond the Mississippi River, bringing with them American slavery, culture, laws, and political traditions.
Many Americans who migrated to Texas at the invitation of the Mexican government did not completely shed their identity or loyalty to the United States. They brought American traditions and expectations with them (including, for many, the right to own slaves). For instance, the majority of these new settlers were Protestant, and though they were not required to attend the Catholic mass, Mexico’s prohibition on the public practice of other religions upset them and they routinely ignored it.
Accustomed to representative democracy, jury trials, and the defendant’s right to appear before a judge, the Anglo-American settlers in Texas also disliked the Mexican legal system, which provided for an initial hearing by an alcalde, an administrator who often combined the duties of mayor, judge, and law enforcement officer. The alcalde sent a written record of the proceeding to a judge in Saltillo, the state capital, who decided the outcome. Settlers also resented that at most two Texas representatives were allowed in the state legislature.
Their greatest source of discontent, though, was the Mexican government’s 1829 abolition of slavery. Most American settlers were from southern states, and many had brought slaves with them. Mexico tried to accommodate them by maintaining the fiction that the slaves were indentured servants. But American slaveholders in Texas distrusted the Mexican government and wanted Texas to be a new U.S. slave state. The dislike of most for Roman Catholicism (the prevailing religion of Mexico) and a widely held belief in American racial superiority led them generally to regard Mexicans as dishonest, ignorant, and backward.
This 1833 map shows the extent of land grants made by Mexico to American settlers in Texas. Nearly all are in the eastern portion of the state, one factor that led to war with Mexico in 1846.
Belief in their own superiority inspired some Texans to try to undermine the power of the Mexican government. When empresario Haden Edwards attempted to evict people who had settled his land grant before he gained title to it, the Mexican government nullified its agreement with him. Outraged, Edwards and a small party of men took prisoner the alcalde of Nacogdoches. The Mexican army marched to the town, and Edwards and his troop then declared the formation of the Republic of Fredonia between the Sabine and Rio Grande Rivers. To demonstrate loyalty to their adopted country, a force led by Stephen Austin hastened to Nacogdoches to support the Mexican army. Edwards’s revolt collapsed, and the revolutionaries fled Texas.
The growing presence of American settlers in Texas, their reluctance to abide by Mexican law, and their desire for independence caused the Mexican government to grow wary. In 1830, it forbade future U.S. immigration and increased its military presence in Texas. Settlers continued to stream illegally across the long border; by 1835, after immigration resumed, there were twenty thousand Anglo-Americans in Texas.
Fifty-five delegates from the Anglo-American settlements gathered in 1831 to demand the suspension of customs duties, the resumption of immigration from the United States, better protection from Indian tribes, the granting of promised land titles, and the creation of an independent state of Texas separate from Coahuila. Ordered to disband, the delegates reconvened in early April 1833 to write a constitution for an independent Texas. Surprisingly, General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, Mexico’s new president, agreed to all demands, except the call for statehood. Coahuila y Texas made provisions for jury trials, increased Texas’s representation in the state legislature, and removed restrictions on commerce.
Texans’ hopes for independence were quashed in 1834, however, when Santa Anna dismissed the Mexican Congress and abolished all state governments, including that of Coahuila y Texas. In January 1835, reneging on earlier promises, he dispatched troops to the town of Anahuac to collect customs duties. Lawyer and soldier William B. Travis and a small force marched on Anahuac in June, and the fort surrendered. On October 2, Anglo-American forces met Mexican troops at the town of Gonzales; the Mexican troops fled and the Americans moved on to take San Antonio. Now more cautious, delegates to the Consultation of 1835 at San Felipe de Austin voted against declaring independence, instead drafting a statement, which became known as the Declaration of Causes, promising continued loyalty if Mexico returned to a constitutional form of government. They selected Henry Smith, leader of the Independence Party, as governor of Texas and placed Sam Houston, a former soldier who had been a congressman and governor of Tennessee, in charge of its small military force.
The Consultation delegates met again in March 1836. They declared their independence from Mexico and drafted a constitution calling for an American-style judicial system and an elected president and legislature. Significantly, they also established that slavery would not be prohibited in Texas. Many wealthy Tejanos supported the push for independence, hoping for liberal governmental reforms and economic benefits.
Mexico had no intention of losing its northern province. Santa Anna and his army of four thousand had besieged San Antonio in February 1836. Hopelessly outnumbered, its two hundred defenders, under Travis, fought fiercely from their refuge in an old mission known as the Alamo. After ten days, however, the mission was taken and all but a few of the defenders were dead, including Travis and James Bowie, the famed frontiersman who was also a land speculator and slave trader. A few male survivors, possibly including the frontier legend and former Tennessee congressman Davy Crockett, were led outside the walls and executed. The few women and children inside the mission were allowed to leave with the only adult male survivor, a slave owned by Travis who was then freed by the Mexican Army. Terrified, they fled.
Although hungry for revenge, the Texas forces under Sam Houston nevertheless withdrew across Texas, gathering recruits as they went. Coming upon Santa Anna’s encampment on the banks of San Jacinto River on April 21, 1836, they waited as the Mexican troops settled for an afternoon nap. Assured by Houston that “Victory is certain!” and told to “Trust in God and fear not!” the seven hundred men descended on a sleeping force nearly twice their number with cries of “Remember the Alamo!” Within fifteen minutes the Battle of San Jacinto was over. Approximately half the Mexican troops were killed, and the survivors, including Santa Anna, taken prisoner.
Santa Anna grudgingly signed a peace treaty and was sent to Washington, where he met with President Andrew Jackson and, under pressure, agreed to recognize an independent Texas with the Rio Grande River as its southwestern border. By the time the agreement had been signed, however, Santa Anna had been removed from power in Mexico. For that reason, the Mexican Congress refused to be bound by Santa Anna’s promises and continued to insist that the renegade territory still belonged to Mexico.
Visit the official Alamo website to learn more about the battle of the Alamo and take a virtual tour of the old mission.
In September 1836, military hero Sam Houston was elected president of Texas, and, following the relentless logic of U.S. expansion, Texans voted in favor of annexation to the United States. This had been the dream of many settlers in Texas all along. They wanted to expand the United States west and saw Texas as the next logical step. Slaveholders there, such as Sam Houston, William B. Travis and James Bowie (the latter two of whom died at the Alamo), believed too in the destiny of slavery. Mindful of the vicious debates over Missouri that had led to talk of disunion and war, American politicians were reluctant to annex Texas or, indeed, even to recognize it as a sovereign nation. Annexation would almost certainly mean war with Mexico, and the admission of a state with a large slave population, though permissible under the Missouri Compromise, would bring the issue of slavery once again to the fore. Texas had no choice but to organize itself as the independent Lone Star Republic. To protect itself from Mexican attempts to reclaim it, Texas sought and received recognition from France, Great Britain, Belgium, and the Netherlands. The United States did not officially recognize Texas as an independent nation until March 1837, nearly a year after the final victory over the Mexican army at San Jacinto.
Uncertainty about its future did not discourage Americans committed to expansion, especially slaveholders, from rushing to settle in the Lone Star Republic, however. Between 1836 and 1846, its population nearly tripled. By 1840, nearly twelve thousand enslaved Africans had been brought to Texas by American slaveholders. Many new settlers had suffered financial losses in the severe financial depression of 1837 and hoped for a new start in the new nation. According to folklore, across the United States, homes and farms were deserted overnight, and curious neighbors found notes reading only “GTT” (“Gone to Texas”). Many Europeans, especially Germans, also immigrated to Texas during this period.
In keeping with the program of ethnic cleansing and white racial domination, as illustrated by the image at the beginning of this chapter, Americans in Texas generally treated both Tejano and Indian residents with utter contempt, eager to displace and dispossess them. Anglo-American leaders failed to return the support their Tejano neighbors had extended during the rebellion and repaid them by seizing their lands. In 1839, the republic’s militia attempted to drive out the Cherokee and Comanche.
The impulse to expand did not lay dormant, and Anglo-American settlers and leaders in the newly formed Texas republic soon cast their gaze on the Mexican province of New Mexico as well. Repeating the tactics of earlier filibusters, a Texas force set out in 1841 intent on taking Santa Fe. Its members encountered an army of New Mexicans and were taken prisoner and sent to Mexico City. On Christmas Day, 1842, Texans avenged a Mexican assault on San Antonio by attacking the Mexican town of Mier. In August, another Texas army was sent to attack Santa Fe, but Mexican troops forced them to retreat. Clearly, hostilities between Texas and Mexico had not ended simply because Texas had declared its independence.
The establishment of the Lone Star Republic formed a new chapter in the history of U.S. westward expansion. In contrast to the addition of the Louisiana Territory through diplomacy with France, Americans in Texas employed violence against Mexico to achieve their goals. Orchestrated largely by slaveholders, the acquisition of Texas appeared the next logical step in creating an American empire that included slavery. Nonetheless, with the Missouri Crisis in mind, the United States refused the Texans’ request to enter the United States as a slave state in 1836. Instead, Texas formed an independent republic where slavery was legal. But American settlers there continued to press for more land. The strained relationship between expansionists in Texas and Mexico in the early 1840s hinted of things to come.
- How did Texas settlers’ view of Mexico and its people contribute to the history of Texas in the 1830s?
Answer to Review Question
- American slaveholders in Texas distrusted the Mexican government’s reluctant tolerance of slavery and wanted Texas to be a new U.S. slave state. Most also disliked Mexicans’ Roman Catholicism and regarded them as dishonest, ignorant, and backward. Belief in their own superiority inspired some Texans to try to undermine the power of the Mexican government.
alcaldea Mexican official who often served as combined civil administrator, judge, and law enforcement officer
empresarioa person who brought new settlers to Texas in exchange for a grant of land
TejanosMexican residents of Texas
- The Settlers Were Culturally American, Not Mexican.
- The Issue of Enslaved Workers.
- The Abolishment of the 1824 Constitution.
- Chaos in Mexico City.
- Economic Ties With the US.
- Texas Was Part of the State of Coahuila y Texas.
They declared their independence from Mexico and drafted a constitution calling for an American-style judicial system and an elected president and legislature. Significantly, they also established that slavery would not be prohibited in Texas.What were major events in the Texas war for independence? ›
- October 2, 1835 – Battle of Gonzales.
- December 5, 1835 – Siege of Bexar.
- Feb. 23, 1836 – Battle of the Alamo begins.
- Feb. ...
- March 2, 1836 – Convention of 1836.
- March 6, 1836 – Fall of the Alamo.
- March 27, 1836 – Goliad Massacre.
- April 21, 1836 – Battle of San Jacinto.
The first generations in Texas and later descendants were called, and called themselves, Spaniards, Mexicans, Tejanos, Texas Mexicans, and, in recent years, Hispanics, Latinos, Mexican Texans, Mexicanos, Mexican Americans, la Raza, Chicanos, and, again, Tejanos.Where was Texas independence won? ›
Remembering how badly the Texans had been defeated at the Alamo, on April 21, 1836, Houston's army won a quick battle against the Mexican forces at San Jacinto and gained independence for Texas.What were the causes and effects of the Texas war for independence? ›
Cause: Hundreds of families feared that the Mexican army would move in and harm them. Effect: Homes and land were burned and plumaged by Mexican troops. Texas families fled east to escape them. Causes: Texas troops trained under Sam Houston.What is so unique about the Texas Declaration of Independence? ›
Based upon the United States Declaration of Independence, the Texas Declaration also contains many memorable expressions of American political principles: "the right of trial by jury, that palladium of civil liberty, and only safe guarantee for the life, liberty, and property of the citizen."What is the most important event in Texas history? ›
What is Texas Historically Famous For? The most famous event in Texas history is the Battle of the Alamo from February 26 to March 6, 1836. Many famous historical figures lost their lives during the 13-day siege, including David Bowie, William B. Travis, and Davy Crockett.Who wrote the Texas Declaration of Independence? ›
George Childress, the committee chairman, is generally accepted as the author of the Texas Declaration of Independence, with little help from the other committee members.Who won the Texas American War? ›
The United States received the disputed Texan territory, as well as New Mexico territory and California. The Mexican government was paid $15 million — the same sum issued to France for the Louisiana Territory. The United States Army won a grand victory.
Texas independence from Mexico was derived from the Texas Revolution, in which American colonists in Texas secured the independence of that area from Mexico and later established a republic. Since the 1820s many settlers from the United States had colonized Texas. By the 1830s they outnumbered the Texas Mexicans.What are important dates in Texas history? ›
1836 — Texas declares independence from Mexico at convention at Washington-on-the-Brazos (March 2), fall of the Alamo (March 6), and Battle of San Jacinto (April 21). 1845 — Texas is annexed by the US. 1846 — Mexican-American War begins. 1848 — Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo ends Mexican-American War.Can I be Mexican If I wasn't born in Mexico? ›
Nationality by birth
The Mexican Constitution states that Mexican nationals by birth are: people born on Mexican territory regardless of their parent's nationality. people born abroad to at least one parent who is a national of Mexico. people born on Mexican vessels or aircraft that are either for war or merchant.
Classic Westerns have cemented the image of cowboys as white Americans, but the first wave of horse-riding cow wranglers in North America were Indigenous Mexican men.Who lived in Texas first? ›
In the late 1600s as Spanish explorers set their sites on the new land north of Mexico, they first encountered tribes like the Caddo, Karankawa and Coahuiltecans. These tribes were settlers in the southeastern part of the state and known as the first people of Texas.How long did Texas independence last? ›
With the support of President-elect Polk, Tyler managed to get the joint resolution passed on March 1, 1845, and Texas was admitted into the United States on December 29.WHO SAID Remember the Alamo? ›
Legacy of the Alamo
On April 21, 1836, Sam Houston and some 800 Texans defeated Santa Anna's Mexican force of 1,500 men at San Jacinto (near the site of present-day Houston), shouting “Remember the Alamo!” as they attacked.
Unrest in its Army, financial crisis, conflict with Indians, dissension over the location of the capital, integration of public education and clashes with Mexico were some of the problems the new Republic of Texas had to face.What led to the Texas war for independence quizlet? ›
As political unrest increased with rebellions in different states the Mexicans demanded the return of the small cannon. The Texan colonists refused and the Battle of Gonzales commenced that resulted in the death of one Mexican soldier and the start of the Texas Revolution.
Texas declared independence for Mexico in 1836. They did this by the Battle of San Jacinto in which the Texans captured Santa Anna and forced him to sign a treaty giving Texas its independence.What country did not recognize Texas independence? ›
Mexico. Mexico never recognized Texas' independence. Instead the Mexican government considered Texas a rebellious territory still belonging to Mexico. By 1838 Texas had a firm hold on its eastern lands, but the majority of Texas remained under Mexican control.Why did Mexico not recognize Texas independence? ›
Mexico refused to acknowledge Texas independence. The Mexicans maintained that Texas was still a state in rebellion against its rightful government. Texans wanted to resolve their relationship with Mexico to avoid conflicts like the one involving the Independence.Why was the Declaration of Independence written? ›
Its goals were to rally the troops, win foreign allies, and to announce the creation of a new country. The introductory sentence states the Declaration's main purpose, to explain the colonists' right to revolution.Who found Texas first? ›
Spanish missionaries were the first European settlers in Texas, founding San Antonio in 1718.Who is the most famous Texan? ›
Who is the most famous person from Texas? We'd say that George Walker Bush (born 1946) is currently the most famous person from Texas. Also known as “W”, George served as the 43rd President of the United States from 2001-2009.What was Texas called before? ›
Republic of Texas (1836–1845)How many men signed the Texas Declaration of Independence? ›
If you are a Descendant of one of the 59 signers of the Texas Declaration of Independence in 1836, we urge you to become a member of Washington on the Brazos Historical Foundation.Where was Texas Declaration of Independence signed? ›
The Texas Declaration of Independence was signed at Washington-on-the-Brazos, now commonly referred to as the “birthplace of Texas.” Similar to the United States Declaration of Independence, this document focused on the rights of citizens to “life” and “liberty” but with an emphasis on the “property of the citizen.”How many people signed the Declaration of Independence? ›
Not every man who had been present in Congress on July 4 signed the declaration on August 2. Historians believe seven of the 56 signatures on the document were placed there later.
Santa Anna refused to sell a large portion of Mexico, but he needed money to fund an army to put down ongoing rebellions, so on December 30, 1853 he and Gadsden signed a treaty stipulating that the United States would pay $15 million for 45,000 square miles south of the New Mexico territory and assume private American ...When did Mexico lose Texas? ›
Texas gained its independence from Mexico in 1836. Initially, the United States declined to incorporate it into the union, largely because northern political interests were against the addition of a new state that supported slavery.How did Texas beat Mexico? ›
The Americans had the upper hand when it came to weapons.
Many of Mexico's troops were outfitted with weapons that were nearly 30 years old. The country was forced to purchase old guns and ammunition in bulk from France – which had been used during the Napoleonic Wars of the early 19th century.
Polk and others saw the acquisition of Texas, California, Oregon, and other territories as part of the nation's Manifest Destiny to spread democracy over the continent. The U.S. also tried to buy Texas and what was called “Mexican California” from Mexico, which was seen as an insult by Mexico, before war broke out.Who helped Texas achieve its independence from Mexico? ›
Six weeks later, a large Texan army under Sam Houston surprised Santa Anna's army at San Jacinto. Shouting “Remember the Alamo!” the Texans defeated the Mexicans and captured Santa Anna. The Mexican dictator was forced to recognize Texas' independence and withdrew his forces south of the Rio Grande.Why is the year 1519 important to Texas history? ›
In 1519, Spanish explorer and map-maker Alonso Álvarez de Pineda led an Spanish expedition that, for the first time, mapped the coast of Texas along the Gulf of Mexico. From this expedition and the ones that followed, Spain claimed the area of present-day Texas as part of their territory.Who owned Texas before 1821? ›
Six flags have flown over Texas.
Although Mexico's war of independence pushed out Spain in 1821, Texas did not remain a Mexican possession for long. It became its own country, called the Republic of Texas, from 1836 until it agreed to join the United States in 1845.
What were the main reasons Texas succeed from the Union? States' rights, sectionalism, slavery, Election of 1860.What reasons did Texas have to seek its independence from Mexico quizlet? ›
What did Texans want independence from Mexico? Texans wanted freedom of religion and wanted to establish cotton plantations using slave labor. Which Democratic candidate called for the annexation of both Texas and Oregon.Why did Texans declare independence quizlet? ›
Texas declared Independence from Mexico because the US didn't like taking orders from Mexico and they had to deal with Spanish documents. In addition, slavery was illegal (though they did it anyways.)
Texas in the Civil War (PDF): Texas was a prominent state in the Civil War for several reasons. Texas was a part of the Confederacy. Fighting on the Fringe: The Civil War in Texas: Because Texas was deeply connected with the South, most Texans agreed that slavery was an important part of their economic stability.What were the top 3 reasons for secession? ›
Lesson Summary. In December of 1860, South Carolina was the first state to secede from the union. The decision to secede from the union was a result of the building tensions in the United States during the 1800s over the institution of slavery, states' rights, and tariffs.Why did Texas join the Confederacy instead of the Union? ›
The document specifies several reasons for secession, including its solidarity with its "sister slave-holding States," the U.S. government's inability to prevent Indian attacks, slave-stealing raids, and other border-crossing acts of banditry.Why did Southerners want Texas to join the Union? ›
The Southern States wanted to annex Texas because they believed in would enter the Union as a Slave State increasing the power of the slave states in the Senate.Why did Mexico refuse to recognize Texas as an independent country? ›
Mexico refused to acknowledge Texas independence. The Mexicans maintained that Texas was still a state in rebellion against its rightful government. Texans wanted to resolve their relationship with Mexico to avoid conflicts like the one involving the Independence.Why did Mexico not want Texas to join the United States? ›
Northerners didn't want Texas to join the Union because it did so as a slave state. Mexico objected because it still considered Texas a territory — and went to war with the U.S. within a year of the annexation.What are three reasons that the colonists declared independence? ›
The colonists fought the British because they wanted to be free from Britain. They fought the British because of unfair taxes. They fought because they didn't have self-government.What was the main purpose of the Declaration of Independence quizlet? ›
What is the purpose of the Declaration of Independence? The purpose of the Declaration of Independence is to explain to foreign nations and King George III why the colonies had chosen to separate themselves from Great Britain and become independent.What percentage of the Texas population were slaves in 1860? ›
By the time of annexation a decade later, there were 30,000; by 1860, the census found 182,566 slaves -- over 30% of the total population of the state. Most slaves came to Texas with their owners, and the vast majority lived on large cotton plantations in East Texas.Why did the US commit 50000 troops to Texas at the end of the Civil War in 1865? ›
During the American Civil War, Texas had joined the Confederate States. The Confederacy was defeated, and U.S. Army soldiers arrived in Texas on June 19, 1865 to take possession of the state, restore order, and enforce the emancipation of slaves.