Mural of the Transition from Republic of Texas to State of Texas
Leonard Kubiak, Texas Historian from Rockdale
WELCOME TO LEN KUBIAK'S TEXAS HISTORY SERIES
The Republic of Texas Becomes a State
In their first election after Texas won its independence, Texans voted overwhelmingly in favor of annexation to the United States. However, throughout the Republic period, no annexation treaty was approved by both countries.
With nothing solid to indicate that Mexico accepted the defeat at San Jacinto (Treaties of Velasco were ignored by both the Republic of Texas and Mexico) and fearful of a second attack by the powerful Mexican army to the south perhaps joined by the Comanches and Apaches, Texas again petitioned to become a State of the U.S.
DEBATES ON THE ANNEXATION OF TEXAS
When all attempts to arrive at a formal annexation treaty failed, the United States Congress passed, after much debate and only a simple majority, a Joint Resolution for Annexing Texas to the United States.
Under the terms, Texas would keep both its public lands and its public debt. Texas would also have the power to divide into four additional states "of convenient size" in the future if it so desired, and it would deliver all military, postal, and customs facilities and authority to the United States government. Neither this joint resolution or the ordinance passed by the Republic of Texas' Annexation Convention gave Texas the right to secede.
A popularly-elected Constitutional Convention met in Austin in July of 1845 to consider the annexation proposal from the US congress as well as a proposed peace treaty with Mexico which would end the state of war between the two nations—if Texas remained an independent country. The delegates to the convention raised the American flag over their Convention Hall, and began to frame a Constitution under which the Republic of Texas should become a state in the American Union. Over a period of several days, the number of delegates at the convention grew to sixty-two members. General Sam Houston, a delegate-elect from Montgomery County, had gone on a visit to the Hermitage, where Andrew Jackson died on June 8, 1845.
Out of respect for Houston, they refused to declare his seat vacant even at the petition of his county, and voted to wear crepe for one month in memory of Andrew Jackson. “Texas will come into the Union almost unanimously Democratic,” the Arkansas Banner, published at Little Rock, had rejoiced earlier in the spring. “It, in not many years hence, will constitute four or five States—all of which will most certainly be Democratic. . . . It is certain therefore that Whiggery is doomed . . . while the star of democracy has ascended the political horizon never to go down again, but to brighten with the waste of years.” 132 The Democratic framers completed their organization by the election of General Thomas J. Rusk, of Nacogdoches, as President of the Convention, appointed seven committees, and went at once to work.
Only José Antonio Navarro, of Bexar, was Texas-born among the delegates. There were 18 Tennessee born delegates, 8 Virginia born delegates, and the remaining members came from various other states in the Union and Great Britain.
The President of the Convention, Gen. Rusk, was a Georgia born Democrat who had practised law, moved to Texas, and become both military hero and judge before his election to the Convention.
When all was said and done, the Convention voted to accept the United States' proposal, with only one delegate dissenting: Richard Bache, Benjamin Franklin’s grandson. The Annexation Ordinance was submitted to a popular vote in October 1845.
Once approved by Texas voters, the proposed Annexation Ordinance and State Constitution were submitted to the United States Congress. The United States House and Senate, in turn, accepted the Texas state constitution in a Joint Resolution to Admit Texas as a State which was signed by the president on December 29, 1845. However, the formal transfer of government occurred on February 19, 1846 but Texas statehood dates back to the 29th of December, 1845.
"The Republic of Texas is no more," proclaimed Anson Jones, President of the Republic of Texas, as he stood on the steps of the old wooden Capitol building in Austin and hauled down the Lone Star flag. The date was Feb. 19, 1846, and the ceremony was the culmination of years of effort on the part of Jones, Sam Houston and other Texas leaders who orchestrated Texas' annexation into the union.
Later in his memoirs, President Anson Jones says the people of Texas went wild when annexation was finally assured. They saw visions of peace and protection by their old friends and kinsmen. They saw their lands rise to fabulous prices, and riches appeared everywhere. They saw schools and churches and homes secure through the protection of a strong government, willing to help. They saw an end of Indians marauding the country and murdering helpless women and children. They saw a chance to do business unmolested by robbers and intruding Mexicans. They saw a chance for crops to grow. They saw too much, 'tis true, but, like everyone rising from hardship and despair, took too quick counsel from hopes and desires. Many Texans then hoped, in vain, for what their children have since bountifully enjoyed.
The reins of power for the new state of Texas were turned over to Governor elect of the State of texas, J. Pinckney Henderson.
First Elected Governor for the State of Texas , J. Pinckney Henderson
Henderson was a member of the Convention of 1845, was elected governor of Texas in November 1845, and took office in February 1846. With the declaration of the Mexican War and the organization of Texas volunteers, the governor asked permission of the legislature to take personal command of the troops in the field. He led the Second Texas Regiment at the battle of Monterrey and was appointed a commissioner to negotiate for the surrender of that city. Later he served with the temporary rank of major general of Texas volunteers in United States service from July 1846 to October 1846. After the war he resumed his duties as governor but refused to run for a second term. He returned to his private law practice in 1847. After election by the Texas legislature to the United States Senate to succeed Thomas J. Rusk, Henderson served in the Senate from November 9, 1857, until his death, on June 4, 1858. He was buried in the Congressional Cemetery, Washington. In 1930 his remains were reinterred in the State Cemetery in Austin. Henderson County, established in 1846, was named in his honor.
Joint Annexation Resolution by the Congress of the Republic of Texas, June 23, 1845
Giving consent of the existing Texas Government to the Annexation of Texas to the United States.
Whereas the Government of the United States hath proposed the following terms, guarantees and conditions on which the people and Territory of the Republic of Texas may be erected into a new State to be called the State of Texas, and admitted as one of the States of the American Union, to wit: Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That Congress doth consent that the territory properly included within and rightfully belonging to the Republic of Texas may be erected into a new State, to be called the State of Texas, with a Republican form of Government, to be adopted by the people of said Republic, by deputies in Convention assembled, with the consent of the existing Government, in order that the same may be admitted as one of the States of this Union. 2. And be it further resolved, That the foregoing consent of Congress is given upon the following conditions, and with the following guarantees, to wit: First, said State to be formed subject to the adjustment by this Government of all questions of boundary that may arise with other Governments, and the Constitution thereof, with the proper evidence of its adoption, by the people of said Republic of Texas, shall be transmitted to the President of the United States, to be laid before Congress for its final action, on or before the first day of January one thousand eight hundred and forty six. Second, said State when admitted into the Union, after ceding to the United States all public edifices, fortifications, barracks, ports, and harbors, navy and navyyards, docks, magazines, arms, armaments and all other property and means pertaining to the public defence, belonging to the said Republic of Texas, shall retain all the public funds, debts, taxes and dues of every kind which may belong to or be due and owing said Republic, and shall also retain all the vacant and unappropriated lands lying within its limits, to be applied to the payment of the debts and liabilities of said Republic of Texas, and the residue of said lands, after discharging said debts and liabilities, to be disposed of as said State may direct: but in no event are said debts and liabilities to become a charge upon the Government of the United States. Third, new States of convenient size, not exceeding four in number, in addition to said State of Texas, and having sufficient population, may hereafter, by the consent of said State, be formed out of the territory thereof, which shall be entitled to admission under the provision of the Federal (constitution. And such States as may be formed out of that portion of said territory lying south of thirty-six degrees thirty minutes north latitude, commonly known as the Missouri compromise line, shall be admitted into the Union, with or without Slavery, as the people of each State asking admission may desire. And in such State or States as shall be formed out of said territory north of said Missouri compromise line, slavery or involuntary servitude (except for crime) shall be prohibited. And whereas, by said terms, the consent of the existing Government of Texas is required,-Therefore,
Be it resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the Republic of Texas in Congress assembled, That the Government of Texas cloth consent that the People and Territory of the Republic of Texas may be erected into a new State to be called the State of Texas, with a Republican form of Government to be adopted by the People of said Republic, by Deputies in Convention assembled, in order that the same may be admitted as one of the States of the American Union; and said consent is given on the terms, guarantees, and conditions set forth in the Preamble to this Joint Resolution.
Section 2. Be it further resolved, That the Proclamation of the President of the Republic of Texas, bearing date May fifth eighteen hundred and forty five, and the election of deputies to set in Convention, at Austin, on the fourth day of July next for the adoption of a Constitution for the State of Texas, had in accordance therewith, hereby receives the consent of the existing Government of Texas.
Sec. 3. Be it further resolved, That the President of Texas is hereby requested, immediately, to furnish the Government of the United States, through their accredited Minister near this Government, with a copy of this Joint Resolution, also to furnish the Convention to assemble at Austin on the fourth of July next a copy of the same. And the same shall take effect from and after its passage.
JOHN M. LEWIS,
Speaker of the House of Representatives; K. L. ANDERSON,
President of the Senate
Approved June 23 1845
STATEHOOD FOR TEXAS RATIFIED BY US CONGRESS-DECEMBER 1845
Joint Resolution of the Congress of the United States, December 29,1845)
29th Congress.1st Session
Begun and held at the city of Washington, in the District of Columbia, on Monday, the first day of December, eighteen hundred and forty-five.
Joint Resolution for the admission of the state of Texas into the Union.
Whereas, the Congress of the United States, by a Joint Resolution approved March the first, eighteen hundred and forty-five, did consent that the territory properly included within, and rightfully belonging to the Republic of Texas, might be erected into a new state, to be called The State of Texas, with a republican form of government, to be adopted by the people of said republic, by deputies in Convention assembled, with the consent of the existing government, in order that the same might be admitted as one of the states of the Union; which consent of Congress was given upon certain conditions specified in the first and second sections of said Joint Resolution: And whereas, the people of the said Republic of Texas, by deputies in Convention assembled, with the consent of the existing government, did adopt a Constitution and erect a new state, with a republican form of government, and in the name of the people of Texas, and by their authority, did ordain and declare, that they assented to and accepted the proposals, conditions, and guarantees contained in said first and second sections of said resolution: And whereas the said Constitution, with the proper evidence of its adoption by the people of the republic of Texas, has been transmitted to the President of the United States, and laid before Congress, in conformity to the provisions of said Joint Resolution:
Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the state of Texas shall be one, and is hereby declared to be one, of the United States of America, and admitted into the Union on an equal footing with the original states, in all respects whatever.
Section 2. And be it further resolved, That until the representatives in Congress shall be apportioned according to an actual enumeration of the inhabitants of the United States, the state of Texas shall be entitled to choose two representatives.
JOHN W DAVIS
Speaker of the House of Representatives.
G. M. Dallas.
President of the Senate.
Approved December 29 1845.
JAMES K Polk
BIBLIOGRAPHY: A Memorial and Biographical History of McLennan, Falls, Bell, and Coryell Counties (Chicago: Lewis, 1893; rpt., St. Louis: Ingmire, 1984). Vertical Files, Barker Texas History Center, University of Texas at Austin.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: Archie P. McDonald, Travis (Austin: Jenkins, 1976). William Barret Travis, Diary, ed. Robert E. Davis (Waco: Texian Press, 1966). Amelia W. Williams, A Critical Study of the Siege of the Alamo and of the Personnel of Its Defenders (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Texas, 1931; rpt., Southwestern Historical Quarterly 36 [April 1933], 37 [July, October 1933, January, April 1934).
BOUNDARIES CHANGE WITH BOUNDARY ACT OF 1850
The Boundary Act of 1836 established the entire length of the Rio Grande as the southern and western boundary of the Republic of Texas, even though colonization was confined principally to the territory between the Nueces and the Sabine. When Texas entered the union, these territorial limits were retained, and the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo confirmed the Rio Grande as the southern boundary between Texas and Mexico.
Republic of Texas President Mirabeau B. Lamar and Texas State Governors George T. Wood and Peter H. Bell all attempted to extend Texan control in the Santa Fe and New Mexico area. Their efforts failed: the Santa Fe Expedition was captured by Mexican forces in 1841 and post-annexation extension of Texan influence met with great opposition in the New Mexico territory.
Map of the Republic of Texas with Boundaries that stood until the Boundary Act of 1850.
By 1850, New Mexicans had ratified a proposed state constitution with defined boundaries well within territory claimed by Texas. Texas Governor Bell convened the Texas Legislature to enforce the state’s claim. US President Millard Fillmore threatened to resist any such claim with military force, and a series of bills were offered in the US Congress in an effort to resolve the problem.
Senator Thomas Hart Benton of Missouri would have had Texas cede all land west of 102° longitude and north of the Red River, divide Texas into two states, and pay $15 million for the lost territory. Senator John Bell of Tennessee proposed that Texas split into three states. Yet another proposal would have drawn a straight line from El Paso to the point where the 100th meridian meets the Red River, in exchange for an unspecified payment.
The 1850 Boundary Act was a bill proposed by Senator James A. Pearce of Maryland. This bill offered Texas $10 million in 5% U.S. bonds in exchange for ceding to the national government 67 million acres of land north and west of a boundary beginning at the 100th meridian where it intersects the parallel of 36°30', then running west along that parallel to the 103d meridian, south to the 32d parallel, and from that point west to the Rio Grande. At least half of the $10 million payment would be dedicated to retiring the public debt of the Republic of Texas.
The Boundary Act also provided "That nothing herein contained shall be construed to impair or qualify anything contained in the 3rd article of the 2nd section of the "Joint Resolution for annexing Texas to the United States," approved March 1, 1845, either as regards the number of States that may hereafter be formed out of the State of Texas, or otherwise.
Texas voters accepted the proposal with a three to one majority, and Governor Bell signed the act on November 25, 1850.
Thus the State of texas assummed it's current boundaries.
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