God Bless Texas! On this day in 1845, Texas joins the Union as the 28th state. Of course, we were the Republic of Texas immediately before that.
Texas won its independence from Mexico in 1836, and it was an independent nation for more than nine years before it joined the Union. But annexation into the United States was a topic that came up early and often.
The United States was initially disinclined to annex Texas. Americans were worried that they would spark a war with Mexico. And, unfortunately, the then-unresolved issue of slavery complicated matters. For their part, Texans were initially in favor of annexation, but they withdrew their offer in 1838. Not too long after that, however, many in the United States changed their minds. They were worried about British interest in Texas and did not want the Texan republic to join the British Empire.
Despite these concerns, the United States Senate rejected a treaty of annexation in June 1844. Yet the matter remained contentious, and later that same year, a proponent of annexation, James Polk, was elected President. The outgoing President, John Tyler, was also a proponent of annexation. He worried that Britain would interfere if Americans did not act quickly, and he pushed for congressional action: He recommended a joint resolution for annexing Texas. Congress approved that resolution in February 1845.
The government of Mexico chose that moment to finally acknowledge Texan independence. Its condition? Texas must refuse to annex herself to another country. Well, I suppose you could say that Texas told Mexico to take a flying leap. (Seriously wanted to use a stronger phrase there!) In June, the Texas Congress met and accepted the offer from the United States. In July, a special convention was held and made the same decision. A state constitution was ratified in October and accepted by the U.S. Congress in December 1845. Polk signed the measure on December 29. Texas was legally a state.
The formal transfer of authority occurred in a February 1846 ceremony. Texas President Anson Jones passed the gavel to the new Texas governor with these words: “The final act in this great drama is now performed; the Republic of Texas is no more.”
Well, perhaps officially. But I’d argue that the fiercely independent Texas spirit lives on!
For Further Reading:
Randolph B. Campbell, Gone to Texas: A History of the Lone Star State (2d. ed. 2012)