Texas – More than a State, It’s a State of Mind

Texas is more than just the 28th state with, coincidentally, 28 million residents. Texas is the ONLY state to join the Union by treaty. Why a treaty?

Texas is the ONLY state that was an independent republic to join the union.

At the time when Mexico contracted with Stephen F. Austin to settle Americans in the Mexican State of Coahuila, creating a new state of Coahuila y Tejas, by law, under the Republic of Mexico Constitution of 1824, slavery was unlawful. But the Mexican government allowed slavery to support the cotton industry, an exception based on a desire for federal revenue from the new state of Coahuila y Tejas.

“The [Mexican] constitution divided the state [of Coahuila y Tejas] into three departments, of which Texas, as the District of Bexar, was one. The Catholic religion was made the state religion; citizens were guaranteed liberty, security, property, and equality; slavery was forbidden after [the] promulgation of the constitution, and there could be no import of slaves after six months.” Texas State Historical Association | CONSTITUTION OF COAHUILA AND TEXAS

Texians and Tejanos declared independence from the Republic of Mexico on March 2, 1836. Fewer than 10 years later, Texas became the 28th State of these United States of America.

Map of the Republic of Texas

The treaty of December 29, 1845, was based, in part, on the exchange of land (parts of present-day New Mexico, Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado, and Wyoming) for payment of the Texas debt.

Slavery was permitted under the treaty due to Texas being south of the 36th North latitude.

The Texas Republic | 1845 Annexation Agreement text

Texas leadership broke the Treaty of 1845 on February 1, 1861, in a declaration of secession from the union, the seventh state to secede from the Union. It is noteworthy that slavery was still legal in the South at the time of secession.

On September 22, 1862, Republican President Abraham Lincoln warned the secessionist states that he would issue an executive order outlawing slavery in the secessionist states if they did not desist from seceding from the Union. They didn’t and he did.

According to the Bill of Rights Institute, Lincoln did not believe he had the constitutional authority to emancipate the slaves “until it became necessary to free the slaves in order to save the Union”.

Bill of Rights Institute | Abraham Lincoln and the Emancipation Proclamation

Citing his role as Commander-in-Chief, Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation became effective on January 1, 1863, two years after the secession of Texas from the Union.

Secession was not acceptable to all Texas leadership who were essentially divided as Unionists (a minority) and Dixiecrats (the majority). Sam Houston was the most prominent Unionist to oppose secession and he was, himself, a slave owner. By the way, that slave, Joshua Houston, is buried only a few steps from Houston’s grave in Oakwood Cemetery in Huntsville, Texas.

A footnote to history: Joshua Houston, who was Sam Houston’s slave. He was freed in 1862 but remained in Huntsville where he became a successful businessman and leading citizen.

My wife and I count it fortunate for us to be born and raised in South Texas, she right on the border with Mexico. Our playmates and classmates included kids born to Mexican immigrants, descendants of the 1942 Bracero Program, and, earlier, Mexican refugees fleeing the bloody violence and economic chaos of the Mexican Revolution in the early 1900s.

Millions of US citizens from other states are flocking to Texas, driving a housing boom and massive construction of apartments, houses, industries, and transportation. Most of the immigrants come from California, so our challenge is to acclimate many of them to a life of freedom and conservative values.

To the newcomers, I say Welcome! Just don’t mess with Texas!

Texas is a State of Mind – God bless Texas!

John White – Lifelong Texan
Rockwall, Texas

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