Republic of Texas
- Alternative use: Republic of Texas (group)
The Republic of Texas was a shortlived country roughly corresponding to the present day state of Texas in the United States of America. The northern boundaries with the United States were defined by the Adams-Onis treaty between the United States and Spain in 1819. Its southern and western boundary with Mexico was under dispute throughout the lifetime of the Republic, with Texas claiming that the boundary was the Rio Grande and Mexico claiming the Rio Nueces. This dispute would later become a trigger for the Mexican War between Mexico and the United States after the annexation of Texas.
Before Mexican independence in 1821, Texas was a part of the Spanish colony of New Spain. Texas then belonged to Mexico (as a part of the state of Coahuila y Tejas) until the Texas Revolution. The first declaration of independence for Texas was signed in Goliad on December 20, 1835. The Texas Declaration of Independence was enacted at Washington-on-the-Brazos on March 2, 1836, effectively creating the Republic of Texas.
Four days later, the two-week long Battle of the Alamo ended as Mexican General Antonio López de Santa Anna's forces defeated the nearly 200 Texans defending the small mission (which would eventually become the center of the city of San Antonio). "Remember the Alamo" became the battle cry of the Texas Revolution. The Battle of San Jacinto was fought on April 21, 1836, near the present-day city of Houston. General Santa Anna's entire force of 1,600 men was killed or captured by Texas General Sam Houston's army of 800 Texans; only nine Texans died. This decisive battle resulted in Texas' independence from Mexico.
The first Congress of the Republic of Texas convened in October 1836 at Columbia (now West Columbia). Stephen F. Austin, known as the Father of Texas, died December 27, 1836, after serving two months as Secretary of State for the new Republic.
In 1836, five sites served as temporary capitals of Texas (Washington-on-the-Brazos, Harrisburg , Galveston, Velasco and Columbia) before Sam Houston moved the capital to Houston in 1837. In 1839, the capital was moved to the new town of Austin.
Internal politics of the Republic were based on the conflict between two factions. The nationalist faction, led by Mirabeau B. Lamar advocated the continued independence of Texas, the expulsion of the Native Americans, and the expansion of Texas to the Pacific Ocean. Their opponents, led by Sam Houston, advocated the annexation of Texas to the United States and peaceful coexistence with Native Americans.
Presidents of the Republic
- David G. Burnet (interim, 1836)
- Sam Houston (1836–1838)
- Mirabeau B. Lamar (1838–1841)
- Sam Houston (1841–1844)
- Anson Jones (1844–1845)
The Republic of Texas and the United States
On February 28, 1845, the United States Congress passed a bill that would authorize the United States to annex the Republic of Texas and on March 1 U.S. President John Tyler signed the bill. The legislation set the date for annexation for December 29 of the same year. On October 13 of the same year, a majority of voters in the Republic approved a proposed constitution that was later accepted by the US Congress, making Texas a U.S. state on the same day annexation took effect (therefore bypassing a territorial phase). One of the primary motivations for annexation was that the Texas government had incurred huge debts which the United States agreed to assume upon annexation. In 1850, in return for this assumption of debt, a large portion of Texas-claimed territory, now parts of Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Wyoming, was ceded to the Federal government.
The annexation resolution has been the topic of some incorrect historical beliefs—chiefly, that the resolution was a treaty between sovereign states, and granted Texas the explicit right to secede from the Union. This was a right argued by some to be implicitly held by all states at the time, and until the conclusion of the Civil War. That having been said, the resolution did include two unique provisions: first, it gave the new state of Texas the right to divide itself into as many as five states with approval of its legislature. Texas retains this right today. Second, Texas did not have to surrender its public lands to the federal government. While Texas did cede all territory outside of its current area to the federal government in 1850, it did not cede any public lands within its current boundaries. This means that generally, the only lands owned by the federal government within Texas have actually been purchased by the government, and is also signficant with respect to offshore oil leases.
Notable Republic of Texas figures include
- Stephen F. Austin
- David G. Burnet
- Jim Bowie
- Edward Burleson
- Davy Crockett
- Lorenzo de Zavala
- Sam Houston
- Albert Sidney Johnson
- Mirabeau B. Lamar
- José Antonio Navarro
- William B. Travis
- Isaac Van Zandt
- Edwin Waller