The history of Texas as part of the United States began in 1845, but settlement of the region dates back to the end of the Upper Paleolithic Period, around 10,000 BC. Its history has been shaped by being part of six independent countries: Spain, France, Mexico, the Republic of Texas, the Confederate States of America, and the United States of America. Starting in the 1820s, American and European immigrants began arriving in the area; joined by Hispanic Tejanos they revolted against Mexico in 1836 and defeated an invasion army. After a decade as an independent country, Texas joined the Union (the United States) in 1845. The western frontier state was characterized by large-scale cattle ranching and cotton farming. In the 20th century, it grew rapidly, becoming the second largest state in population 1994, and became economically highly diversified, with a growing base in high technology. The state has been shaped by the interactions of Southern, Spanish, Tejano, Native American, African American, Czech Texan, and German Texan cultures.
Texas lies within the regions of three North American civilizations which had reached their developmental peak prior to the arrival of European explorers. Namely, the Pueblo from the upper Rio Grande region, the Mound Builder of the Mississippi Valley region, and the civilizations of the pre-Columbian cultures of Pre-Columbian cultures of Mexico and Central America. No one culture was dominant in the present-day Texas region and many different peoples inhabited the area. Native American tribes that lived inside the boundaries of present-day Texas include the Alabama, Apache, Atakapan, Bidai, Caddo, Coahuiltecan, Comanche, Cherokee, Choctaw, Coushatta, Hasinai, Jumano, Karankawa, Kickapoo, Kiowa, Tonkawa, and Wichita. The name Texas derives from táyshaʔ, a word in the Caddoan language of the Hasinai, which means "friends" or "allies".
Native Americans determined the fate of European explorers and settlers depending on whether a tribe was friendly or warlike. Friendly tribes taught newcomers how to grow indigenous crops, prepare foods, and hunting methods for wild game. Warlike tribes made life unpleasant, difficult and dangerous for explorers and settlers through their attacks and resistance to European conquest.
A remnant of the Choctaw tribe in East Texas still lives in the Mt. Tabor Community near Amberly, Texas. Currently, there are three federally-recognized Native American tribes which reside in Texas: the Alabama-Coushatta Tribes of Texas, the Kickapoo Traditional Tribe of Texas, and the Ysleta Del Sur Pueblo of Texas.
The first European to see Texas was Alonso Álvarez de Pineda, who led an expedition on behalf of the governor of Jamaica, Francisco de Garay, in 1519. While searching for a passage between the Gulf of Mexico and Asia, Álvarez de Pineda created the first map of the northern Gulf Coast. This map is the earliest recorded document of Texas history.
Between 1528 and 1535, four survivors of the Narváez expedition, including Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca and Estevanico, spent six and a half years in Texas as slaves and traders among various native groups.
In April 1682, French nobleman René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle arrived at the Gulf of Mexico after traversing the Mississippi River from New France and claimed the entire Mississippi River Valley for France. La Salle believed the Mississippi River was very near the edge of New Spain, and knew that French control of the Mississippi would split Spanish Florida from New Spain. In 1683, he convinced Louis XIV to establish a colony near the Mississippi.
The expedition left on July 24, 1684, but one of the four ships was captured by Spanish privateers off the coast of Santo Domingo. Several people deserted the expedition on that island. A combination of inaccurate maps, La Salle's previous miscalculation of the latitude of the mouth of the Mississippi River, and overcorrecting for the Gulf currents led the ships to be unable to find the Mississippi. Instead, they landed at Matagorda Bay in early 1685, west of the Mississippi. In February, the colonists constructed Fort Saint Louis.
After the fort was constructed, one of the ships returned to France, and the other two were soon destroyed in storms. La Salle and his men searched overland for the Mississippi River, some traveling as far west as the Rio Grande and as far east as the Trinity River. By early January 1687, fewer than 45 people remained in the colony. That month, a third expedition left to explore East Texas. During a quarrel on March 19, 1687, La Salle was killed by other members of the expedition.
The Spanish learned of the French colony in late 1685 from a Frenchman who had deserted in Santo Domingo. Feeling that the French colony was a threat to Spanish mines and shipping routes, Carlos II's Council of war thought that "Spain needed swift action 'to remove this thorn which has been thrust into the heart of America. The greater the delay the greater the difficulty of attainment.'" Having no idea where to find La Salle, the Spanish launched ten expeditions—both land and sea—over the next three years. The last expedition discovered a French deserter living in Southern Texas with the Coahuiltecans.
Using this guide, the Spanish reached the French fort in late April 1689. The fort and the five crude houses surrounding it were in ruins. Several months before, the Karankawa had become angry that the French had taken their canoes without payment and had attacked the settlement and spared only four children.
Despite the failure of their colony in Texas, the French continued to claim Texas, even after the Spanish arrived and colonized it. The French period of Texan history is memorialized in the Texas state seal and as the first (or second) of the traditional "six flags over Texas." In 1762, the French abandoned their claims to Texas and ceded Louisiana to Spain for forty years (until 1800). On 1 October, 1800 much of north Texas is retroceded to France but later sold to the United States in the Louisiana Purchase of 1803.
In 1711, Franciscan missionary Francisco Hidalgo, who had served in the earlier Texas missions two decades before, wanted to reestablish missions with the Caddos. The Spanish were unwilling to provide the funding and troops for the project, so Hidalgo approached the French governor of Louisiana for help. The French governor sent Louis Juchereau de St. Denis to assist Hidalgo.The Spanish recognized that the French could become a threat to other Spanish areas, and ordered the reoccupation of Texas as a buffer between French settlements in Louisiana and New Spain. In 1716, Domingo Ramon left for East Texas to establish four missions and a presidio. With him were the first recorded female settlers in Spanish Texas. After learning that the French were building a fort in Natchitoches, the Spanish founded two additional missions just west of Natchitoches.
The new missions were over from the nearest Spanish settlement, San Juan Bautista. Martin de Alarcon, who had been appointed governor of Texas in late 1716, wished to establish a way station between the settlements along the Rio Grande and the new missions in East Texas. Alarcon led a group of 72 people, including 10 families, into Texas in April 1718, where they settled along the San Antonio River. Within the next week, the settlers had founded San Antonio de Valero, whose chapel was later known as the Alamo and a presidio, and chartered the municipality of San Antonio de Bexar, now San Antonio, Texas.
The following year, the War of the Quadruple Alliance pitted Spain against France, which immediately moved to take over Spanish interests in North America. In June 1719, 7 Frenchmen from Natchitoches took control of the mission of San Miguel de los Adeas from its sole defender, who did not know that the countries were at war. The French soldiers explained that 100 additional soldiers were coming, and the Spanish colonists, missionaries, and remaining soldiers abandoned the area and fled to San Antonio.
The new governor of Coahuila and Texas, the Marquis de San Miguel de Aguayo, drove the French from Los Adaes without firing a shot. He then ordered the building of a new Spanish fort Nuetra Senora del Pilar de Los Adaes, located near present-day Robeline, Louisiana, only 12 mi (19 km) from Natchitoches. The new fort became the first capital of Texas, and was guarded by 6 cannon and 100 soldiers. The six East Texas missions were reopened, and an additional mission and presidio were established at Matagorda Bay on the site of Fort Saint Louis.
Although the missionaries had been unable to convert the Tejas tribe of East Texas, they did become friendly with the natives. The Tejas were bitter enemies of the Lipan Apache, who transferred their enmity to Spain and began raiding San Antonio and other Spanish areas. Constant Apache raids led to the closure of several newly established missions along the San Gabriel River. A temporary peace was finally negotiated with the Apache in 1749, and at the request of the Indians a mission was established along the San Saba River northwest of San Antonio. The Apaches shunned the mission, but the fact that Spaniards now appeared to be friends of the Apache angered the Apache enemies, primarily the Comanche, Tonkawa,andHasinai tribes, who promptly destroyed the mission.
The eastern part of Texas became solely the property of Spain in 1762, when France ceded all of Louisiana west of the Mississippi River to Spain as part of the treaty to end the Seven Years War. Spain accepted the territory only because it signified that France was relinquishing its claim to Texas. With the addition of the territory of Louisiana, Spain commissioned the Marquis de Rubi to reexamine the northern frontier. He recommended the closure of Los Adaes, making San Antonio the new provincial capital. The residents of Los Adaes were relocated in 1773, first to San Antonio and then to a new community on the Trinity River. The settlers helped smuggle contraband goods from Louisiana to San Antonio and also helped the soldiers with coastal reconnaissance. Comanche raids in 1779 led the settlers to move without authorization, and they established the town of Nacogdoches.
The Comanche agreed to a peace treaty in 1785. By late 1786, northern and western Texas were secure enough that Pedro Vial and a single companion safely "pioneered a trail from San Antonio to Santa Fe," a distance of 700 mi (1126 km). The Comanches were willing to fight the enemies of their new friends, and soon attacked the Karankawa. Over the next several years the Comanches killed many of the Karankawa in the area and drove the others into Mexico. In January 1790, the Comanche also helped the Spanish fight a large battle against the Mescalero and Lipan Apaches at Soledad Creek west of San Antonio. The Apaches were resoundingly defeated and the majority of the raids stopped. By the end of the 1700s only a small number of the remaining hunting and gathering tribes within Texas had not been Christianized. In 1793, mission San Antonio de Valero was secularized, and the following year the four remaining missions at San Antonio were partially secularized.
During much of the dispute with the United States, governship of New Spain was in question. In 1808, Napoleon forced the Spanish king to abdicate the throne and appointed Joseph Bonaparte as the new monarch. A shadow government operated out of Cadiz during Joseph's reign. Revolutionaries within Mexico and the United States unsuccessfully combined to declare Texas and Mexico independent. Spanish troops reacted harshly, looting the province and executing any Tejanos accused of having Republican tendencies. By 1820 fewer than 2000 Hispanic citizens remained in Texas. The situation did not normalize until 1821, when Agustin de Iturbide launched a drive for Mexican Independence. Texas became a part of the newly independent nation without a shot being fired, ending the period of Spanish Texas.
Spanish control of Texas was followed by Mexican control of Texas, and it can be difficult to separate the Spanish and Mexican influences on the future state. The most obvious legacy is that of the language; every major river in modern Texas, except the Red River, has a Spanish or Anglicized name, as do 42 of the state's 254 counties. Numerous towns also bear Spanish names. An additional obvious legacy is that of Roman Catholicism. At the end of Spain's reign over Texas, virtually all inhabitants practiced the Catholic religion, and it is still practiced in Texas by a large number of people. The Spanish missions built in San Antonio to convert Indians to Catholicism have been restored and are a National Historic Landmark.
The Spanish introduced European livestock, including cattle, horses, and mules, to Texas as early as the 1690s. These herds grazed heavily on the native grasses, allowing mesquite, which was native to the lower Texas coast, to spread inland. Spanish farmers also introduced tilling and irrigation to the land, further changing the landscape.
Furthermore, although Texas eventually adopted much of the Anglo-American legal system, many Spanish legal practices were retained. Among these are the concepts of homestead exemption, community property, and adoption.
In 1821, the Mexican War for Independence severed the control that Spain had exercised on its North American territories, and the new country of Mexico was formed from much of the lands that had comprised New Spain, including Spanish Texas. The 1824 Constitution of Mexico joined Texas with Coahuila to form the state of Coahuila y Tejas. The Congress did allow Texas the option of forming its own state "'as soon as it feels capable of doing so.'" The same year, Mexico enacted the General Colonization Law, which enabled all heads of household, regardless of race or immigrant status, to claim land in Mexico. The first empresarial grant had been made under Spanish control to Moses Austin. The grant was passed to his son Stephen F. Austin, whose settlers, known as the Old Three Hundred, settled along the Brazos River in 1822. The grant was later ratified by the Mexican government. Twenty-three other empresarios brought settlers to the state, the majority from the United States of America.
Many of the Anglo-American settlers owned slaves. Texas was granted a one-year exemption from Mexico's 1829 edict outlawing slavery but Mexican president Anastasio Bustamante ordered that all slaves be freed in 1830. To circumvent the law, many Anglo colonists converted their slaves into indentured servants for life; by 1836 there were 5,000 slaves in Texas.
As a result of multiple offers by the United States to buy Texas, Bustamente outlawed the immigration of United States citizens to Texas in 1830. Several new presidios were established in the region to monitor immigration and customs practices. Angry colonists held a convention in 1832 to demand that U.S. citizens be allowed to immigrate. The following year, their Convention of 1833 proposed that Texas become a separate Mexican state. Although Mexico implemented several measures to appease the colonists, Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna's measures to transform Mexico from a federalist to a centralist state provided an excuse for the Texan colonists to revolt.
The first violent incident occurred on October 2, 1835 at the battle of Gonzales. On March 2, 1836, Texans signed the Texas Declaration of Independence. The revolt was justified as necessary to protect basic rights and because Mexico had annulled the federal pact. The colonists maintained that Mexico had invited them to move to the country and they were determined "to enjoy 'the republican institutions to which they were accustomed in their native land, the United States of America.'" The Texas Revolution ended on April 21, 1836 when Santa Anna was taken prisoner following the battle of San Jacinto. Although Texas then governed itself as the Republic of Texas, Mexico refused to recognize its independence.
The first declaration of independence for modern Texas, by both Anglo-Texan settlers and local Tejanos, 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's independence from Mexico. Sam Houston, a native of Virginia, was President of the Republic of Texas for two separate terms, 1836–1838 and 1841–1844. He also was Governor of the state of Texas from 1859 to 1861.
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 co-existence with Native Americans. The first flag of the republic was the "Burnet Flag" (a gold star on an azure field), followed shortly thereafter by official adoption of the Lone Star Flag. The Republic received diplomatic recognition from the United States, France, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and the Republic of Yucatán.
In London, the original Embassy of the Republic of Texas still stands. Immediately opposite the gates to St James Palace, Sam Houston's original Embassy of the Republic of Texas to His Majesty's Court is now a hat shop, but is clearly marked with a large plaque.
On February 28, 1845, the U.S. 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 specifically endorsed slavery and the slave trade. This constitution was later accepted by the U.S. 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 the Compromise of 1850, in return for this assumption of $10 million 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. However, no such right was explicitly enumerated in the resolution. The resolution did, however, include two unique provisions: first, it gave the new state of Texas the right to divide itself into as many as five states (a proposal never seriously considered). Second, Texas did not have to surrender its public lands to the federal government. Thus the only lands owned by the federal government within Texas have actually been purchased by the government, and the vast oil discoveries on state lands have provided a major revenue flow for the state universities.
Post-war Texas grew rapidly as migrants poured into the cotton lands of the state. German immigrants started to arrive in the early 1840s because of economic, social and political conditions in their states. In 1842, German nobles organized the Adelsverein, banding together to buy land in central Texas to enable German settlement. The Revolutions of 1848 acted as another catalyst for so many immigrants that they became known as the "48ers". Many were educated artisans and businessmen. Germans continued to arrive in considerable numbers until 1890.
The first Czech immigrants started their journey to Texas on August 19, 1851 headed by Josef Šilar. The rich farmland of Central Texas attracted the Czech immigrants. The counties of Austin, Fayette, Lavaca, Halletsville, and Washington had early Czech settlements. The Czech-American communities are characterized by a strong sense of community and social clubs were a dominant theme of Czech-American life in Texas. By 1865, the Czech population numbered 700 and climbed to over 60,000 Czech-americans by 1940.
With their investments in cotton cultivation, Texas planters imported enslaved blacks from the earliest years of settlement. They established cotton plantations mostly in the eastern part of the state, where labor was done by enslaved African Americans. The central area of the state had more subsistence farmers.
As part of the Cotton Kingdom, planters in parts of Texas depended on slave labor. In 1860 30% of the population of state total of 604,215 were enslaved. In the statewide election on the secession ordinance, Texans voted to secede from the Union by a vote of 46,129 to 14,697 (a 76% majority). The Secession Convention immediately organized a government, replacing Sam Houston when he refused to take an oath of allegiance to the Confederacy.
Texas seceded from the United States on February 1, 1861, and joined the Confederate States of America on March 2, 1861. Texas was mainly a "supply state" for the Confederate forces until mid 1863, when the Union capture of the Mississippi River made large movements of men, horses or cattle impossible. Texas regiments fought in every major battle throughout the war.
On 1 August 1862 Confederate troops killed 34 pro-Union German Texans in the "Nueces Massacre" of civilians. The last battle of the Civil War, the Battle of Palmito Ranch, was fought in Texas on May 12 1865.
Clampitt (2005) suggests that Confederate soldiers of the Army of the Trans-Mississippi in Texas after the Confederacy's collapse in April 1865 were undisciplined. Due to low morale, a lack of discipline, and a large number of desertions, disbanded regiments and deserters pillaged government and private property as they made their way homeward. Moreover, a lack of participation in the larger campaigns of the war, a feeling that their sacrifice had been a waste, and the fact that they had not been paid in more than 16 months all made the former soldiers feel entitled to take government property (however, most Texas soldiers, being from a "supply state," conducted themselves well in armies such as Lee's Army of Northern Virginia).
Like other Southern states, by the late 1870s white Democrats regained control, often with a mix of intimidation and terrorism by paramilitary groups operating for the Democratic Party. They passed a new constitution in 1876 that segregated schools and established a poll tax to support them, but it was not originally required for voting. In 1901 the legislature passed a poll tax as a prerequisite for voter registration. Given the economic difficulties of the times, the poll tax caused participation by poor whites, African Americans and Mexican Americans to drop sharply. By the early 20th century, the Democratic Party in Texas started using a "white primary", which the state legislature authorized in 1923. Since the Democratic Party dominated the state after 1900 for decades, the "white primary" provision reduced what little minority participation there was as the primaries were the true competitive contest. These provisions extended deep into the 20th century.
In the aftermath of the Galveston disaster, action proceeded on building the Houston Ship Channel to create a more protected inland port. Houston quickly grew once the Channel was completed, and rapidly became the primary port in Texas. Railroads were constructed in a radial pattern to link Houston with other major cities such as Dallas-Fort Worth, San Antonio, and Austin.
Anthony F. Lucas, an experienced mining engineer drilled the first major oil well at Spindletop, on the morning of January 10, 1901 the little hill south of Beaumont, Texas. The East Texas Oil Field, discovered on October 5, 1930 is located in east central part of the state, and is the largest and most prolific oil reservoir in the contiguous United States. Other oil fields were later discovered in West Texas and under the Gulf of Mexico. The resulting "Oil Boom" permanently transformed the economy of Texas, and led to the first significant economic expansion after the Civil War.
The creation of the New Mexico Territory in 1850 fixed the boundary with the state of Texas at the Rio Grande. Between then and 1912, when New Mexico became a state, the course of the river shifted. In what became known as the Country Club Dispute, a boundary dispute case was filed with the Supreme Court of the United States in 1913. The court settled the matter in 1927 by determining where the river had flowed in 1850, largely in agreement with the claims of Texas.
The economy, which had experienced significant recovery since the Civil War, was dealt a double blow by the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl. After the Stock Market Crash of 1929, the economy suffered significant reversals and thousands of city workers became unemployed, many of whom depended on federal relief programs such as FERA, WPA and CCC. Farmers and ranchers were especially hard hit, as prices for cotton and livestock fell sharply. Beginning in 1934 and lasting until 1939, an ecological disaster of severe wind and drought caused an exodus from Texas and Arkansas, the Oklahoma Panhandle region and the surrounding plains, in which over 500,000 Americans were homeless, hungry and jobless. Thousands left the region forever to seek economic opportunities along the West Coast. Immediately preceding and during World War II, existing military bases in Texas were expanded and numerous new training bases were built Texas World War II Army Airfields (Brooke Army Medical Center, [[Camp Mabry, Corpus Christi Army Depot,Fort Bliss,Fort Hood ,Fort Sam Houston , Ingleside Army Depot, Red River Army Depot, especially for aviation training. The Lone Star Army Ammunition Plant was built as part of the WWII buildup. Hundreds of thousands of American (and some allied) soldiers, sailors and airmen trained in the state. All sectors of the economy boomed as the homefront prospered.
During WWII, Texas became home to as many as 78,982 enemy prisoners, mainly Germans. There were fourteen prisoner of war camps in the state. The men in the camps were used to supplement the local farm labor lost to the war.
From 1950 through the 1960s, Texas modernized and dramatically expanded its system of higher education. Under the leadership of Governor John B. Connally, the state produced a long-range plan for higher education, a more rational distribution of resources, and a central state apparatus that managed state institutions with greater efficiency. Because of these changes, Texas universities received federal funds for research and development during the John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson administrations. [Blanton 2005]