The Journey West: Texas
Stephen F. Austin
While thousands of individuals headed to the Pacific Northwest, others traveled to the Spanish Southwest, especially Texas. At the time the Adams-Onís treaty was signed in 1819, about 3,000 non-natives populated the Texas province. While Spain claimed Texas in 1519, settlement did not really begin until the 1690s, and even then it was sporadic. By 1821, when Mexico got its independence form Spain, approximately 3,000 Hispanics lived in Texas, mostly in San Antonio, Nacogdoches, and La Bahia (Goliad).
Immigration began in earnest when Stephen F. Austin convinced the Mexican government to reconfirm a land grant that the Spanish government had granted to his father, Moses Austin. Austin was an empresario, that is, the sole authority of his colony. The Mexican government gave Austin a large tract of territory that he could sell to colonists (to repay his and his father’s debt). By 1824, 300 American families had been selected and were beginning to move to Texas to claim their land.
Texas in 1835
Texas attracted emigrants because of the availability of cheap land. A settler could obtain 4,000 acres in Texas for the same price as 160 acres in the United States. Throughout the 1820s empresarios received grants and more Americans moved to Texas. By 1835 Texas had a non-native population of about 30,000, mostly Anglos but also about 5,000 slaves. By agreement, these emigrants to Mexican soil were to be pledge loyalty to Mexico and become Roman Catholics—a pledge most settlers did not take seriously.
As the number of Anglos in Texas increased, concerns among Mexican officials mounted. By agreement, emigrants to Mexico had pledged loyalty to Mexico and vowed to become Roman Catholics. Most of the settlers who immigrated to Texas remained Protestants and devoted Americans. Fearful of the increasing number of Anglos in Texas (as well as their unwillingness to live as Mexican citizens), the Mexican government passed a law stopping immigration. This law angered the Anglos, and was the beginning of a series of grievances that would culminate with the Texas War for Independence. The major issues included:
Mexico remained politically unstable. Anglos accustomed to the electoral process in the United States craved a similar type of stability.
Mexico sought to limit emigration from the United States and to impose new taxes and trade restrictions.
Anglos wanted to keep slavery and feared that the Mexican government would begin enforcing its anti-slavery laws.
Anglos were primarily Protestant. The Mexican government required settlers to convert to Roman Catholicism. Few Anglos converted.
The former Americans (for they had all sworn themselves Mexican citizens when they moved to Texas) wanted trial by jury, more representation in government, and other English/American rights and freedoms that were not a part of the Mexican legal system.
Antonio López de Santa Anna
Santa Anna became president of Mexico in 1834, championing a decentralized, democratic system of government similar to that of the United States. Texans liked this move and believed Santa Anna might bring needed stability to the country. The next year Santa Anna reversed his position, reduced the power of the states, and effectively became dictator of Mexico. One of Santa Anna’s first priorities was to tighten control over Mexico’s northern territories, especially Texas.
The Texas Revolution
When Santa Anna became tyrannical, the Anglos determined that they had tolerated enough and decided to revolt. At first they were fighting for a return to the Mexican Constitution of 1824, but on March 2, 1836, they declared themselves an independent nation. Four days later the Alamo fell to Santa Anna’s army. Angered by the events at the Alamo, Texans joined the revolutionary army under the command of Sam Houston. Anger soon turned to outrage when the Mexican army killed some 300 Texans after they surrendered at Goliad. The climactic battle for Texas independence came a month later when Houston and his forces routed a much larger Mexican Army on the San Jacinto River. Not only had the Texans defeated the Mexicans, but they had captured Santa Anna. The Texans forced the Mexican leader to sign a treaty granting Texas its independence. Soon after the victory, the new nation of Texas elected Houston its first president.
New Yorkers sign a petition opposing the annexation of Texas
Talk of the United States annexing Texas began almost immediately after the war for independence. Texas legislators approved the first vote for annexation in 1837, and it seemed to many that the new nation would soon become part of the United States. The United States government was not eager to take on Texas and denied its first request to be admitted into the Union. In part, this decision was based on the fact that the United States had other issues to content with, chiefly the economic depression of the Panic of 1837. The federal government also feared that the annexation of Texas would result in problems, possibly even war, with Mexico. Mexico refused to recognize the independence of Texas and threatened economic consequences to the United States if it took any action regarding annexing Texas. The Mexican government never ratified the treaty that ended the Texas Revolution, to them Texas was still part of Mexico. If the United States moved to annex Texas, Mexicans might likely conclude that the United States was stealing a large part of their country. Finally, Texas was a slave state, and the anti-slavery societies objected to admitting another slave state into the Union.
Texas remained an independent republic until 1846, struggling with financial and foreign affairs problems. Mexico refused to admit defeat in its former state and harassed the new republic. Twice in 1842, Mexican military troops captured San Antonio, highlighting the weakness of the new country. Despite its problems, Texans continued to want admittance to the United States and asked for annexation again in 1843. By this time, John Tyler, a southerner, was president, and he favored the idea of admitting Texas. Negotiations continued through 1844, and the argument of admitting Texas became an election issue.
You need to argue against the annexation of Texas.
Be sure that you are researching this topic and use the arguments and evidence that people used at the time.
The post Argue against the annexation of Texas. appeared first on Essay Quoll.