The Republic of Texas

by John Reasoner

  • In the early 1800's, Texas was a section of Mexico, which was still a Spanish colony.
  • Like many other Americans, Moses Austin wanted to settle in Texas for the large farming lands. Spain granted him a land grant to settle Americans in a part of Texas. This agreement still stood even after 1821, when Mexico became its own independent nation. Austin's son, Stephen, took around 300 families to settle in Texas.
  • Similar land grants were given to more and more Americans, and within 9 years, around 20,000 Americans were living in Texas.
  • The conditions of the land grants were that the Americans who were given them had to become Mexican citizens, speak Spanish, and follow the Roman Catholic Church. Over time, many settlers stopped following these conditions and tension grew between the Texans and the Mexican government.
  • In 1830, Mexico stopped accepting American immigrants into Texas, as they feared they would eventually lose the land to America.
  • Five years later, General Antonio Lop├ęz de Santa Anna rose to power as a dictator of Mexico. He angered the Texans, who decided to fight against the government.
  • The Texans fought Mexican troops for the first time in October 1835. The Texans considered this skirmish a victory and realized they had what it took to lead a rebellion. When they officially declared independence from Mexico, they recieved support from the United States and a few other countries, along with Tejanos (Texans with Mexican ancestors) and African American slaves.
  • General Santa Anna travelled to San Antonio with some troops to settle down the rebellion, where 150 or so Texans led by William B. Travis were camped inside the Alamo, which was an old Spanish mission. They were incredibly low on supplies.
  • The Mexicans began trying to take down the Alamo with cannons on February 23, 1836. In the meantime, Travis sent messengers to get additional supplies and more volunteers, but only about 40 men came to fight with them.
  • When the thousands of Mexican troops finally broke into the mission on March 6, they fought the hundred or so Texan rebels inside. About 180 Texans and 1,500 Mexicans were killed in the battle.
  • A few months after this loss, Sam Houston, a Texan leader, led many soldiers to the San Jacinta River, where over 1,000 Mexican troops were camping. They ambushed to start an 18 minute battle. They killed about 630 Mexicans, taking the estimated remaining 700 prisoner, which included Santa Anna.
  • The next day, Santa Anna was forced to sign a treaty for Texan independence. Texas became its own country, nicknamed the Lone Star Republic after the design of their flag. Houston became President and the nation adopted a set of rules very similar to the US Constitution.
  • After realizing it was vulnerable to attack from other countries, Texas decided to apply for statehood in America. Congress decided to accept Texas, even though the Northerners felt that it would become a slave state and Andrew Jackson was concerned that it would mean war with Mexico.
  • Over the next 9 years, many people from the United States and even countries like Germany and Switzerland settled in Texas for the free land that was being offered by the state's government. The state grew and grew and held about 140,000 people by the 1840's.

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