By 1800 some 25 missions and a number of presidios had been built in Texas. The missions had little success in converting the Native Americans to the alien Spanish culture and failed to attract settlers. A 1795 census found 69 families in San Antonio. The few additional families were mainly at what are now Goliad and Nacogdoches.
After the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, the United States regarded eastern Texas as its territory. Spain refused to recognize the claim and won control of about 96,000 square miles (248,639 square kilometers) through the Adams-Onнs Treaty of 1819. After Mexico gained its independence from Spain, this boundary (the Sabine River and northward) was confirmed by a treaty with the United States.
The way to American settlement was opened when Moses Austin of Connecticut won Spain's consent to settle 300 Anglo-American families in Texas. His son, Stephen F. Austin, is called the father of Texas because he brought the first group of colonists to the lower Brazos River in December 1821. The capital of the settlement was established at San Felipe de Austin, in present Austin County, in 1823.
Mexico made additional land grants to other settlers. Drawn by an abundance of public lands where corn and cotton grew, whites from the South and Southwest and their black slaves swelled the population. As immigration into Texas from the United States increased, however, Mexico grew morehostile. Resentment flared in 1826 when American promoters set up the short-lived Fredonian republic at Nacogdoches. By 1830 the population of Texas had grown to nearly 25,000, and further American immigration, including the importation of African American slaves, was forbidden. Disputes with Mexico increased. After Santa Anna became the dictator of Mexico, the Texans revolted. The first open battle was fought at Gonzales on Oct. 2, 1835.
Republic of Texas
The Texans held a convention at Washington on the Brazos and adopted a declaration of independence on March 2, 1836. A constitution modeled after that of the United States was adopted by the new Republic of Texas.
The most striking event in the Texas war for independence was the heroic defense of the Alamo in San Antonio. A rebuilt mission, the Alamo was used as a fort by about 180 Americans. After a siege of 12 days by several thousand Mexican soldiers under Santa Anna, the Alamo fell on March 6, 1836, and the garrison was wiped out. Later in the month the Mexicans massacred James Fannin and more than 300 Texas prisoners at Goliad. "Remember the Alamo" and "Remember Goliad" became Texas war cries.
Independence was won after Gen. Sam Houston defeated Santa Anna on the banks of the San Jacinto River near Houston on April 21, 1836. In September Sam Houston was elected president of the republic.
The new nation was hemmed in by the Indian frontier from the Red River to the hostile Mexican border along the Rio Grande. These threats led to the development of the famous Texas Rangers, expert horsemen and marksmen. The Rangers, the oldest state police force in the United States, are now a branch of the Department of Public Safety.
From 1836 to 1845 the public debt grew from 1 million to 8 million dollars. Many believed that the future development of Texas would be greater under the United States. In 1844 a convention voted for annexation and a state constitution was adopted.
Admission to the Union
The proposed annexation brought a bitter fight in the United States over the question of slavery. Finally, on Dec. 29, 1845, Texas was admitted to the Union. The state kept its public lands and reserved the right to divide into no more than five states.
Disputes with Mexico over boundary lines led to the Mexican War in 1846. The United States victory in the conflict two years later established the Rio Grande as the international border as far as El Paso. In 1850 Congress purchased from Texas for 10 million dollars the claim of that state to some 100,000 square miles (259,000 square kilometers) of land, now part of New Mexico, Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado, and Wyoming.
Just before the outbreak of the American Civil War, slaveholding Texas seceded from the Union and joined the Confederacy. Governor Sam Houston tried to keep the state in the Union but was deposed. Texas was readmitted in 1870
In the mid-1860s Texas cowboys began driving cattle northward to markets or ranges. Some of their famous cattle trails were the Chisholm, Western (Dodge City), Goodnight-Loving, and Sedalia trails. More than 11 million cattle were herded up these trails before the introduction of railroads into the area. These cowboys were the inspiration for many dozens of Western novels and films. Yet in spite of all the Western lore celebrating the cowboy in song, story, art, and film, the era of the great cattle drives was short. It was virtually over by 1890, only 20 years after it began.
The Modern State
Much of the history of modern Texas is connected with the development of the oil industry. In 1901 Anthony F. Lucas struck oil in the Spindletop field, near Beaumont. Other great strikes included those of East Texas, the richest of all, in 1930; Scurry County, in 1949; and Spraberry Field, near Midland, in 1950. The state especially benefited from the expansion of the industry, and its associated petrochemicals, after World War II. In 1960 Texas won a 15-year political and legal struggle for title to the offshore oil in its Gulf of Mexico tidelands. A Supreme Court decision gave the state mineral rights in an area extending three leagues--about 10 1/2 miles (17 kilometers)--offshore.
In 1963 the United States ended a border dispute with Mexico by agreeing to exchange land in the Laredo area. The dispute began about 100 years earlier, when the channel of the Rio Grande shifted. HemisFair '68, the first international exposition in a Southwestern state, was held at San Antonio.
Massive oil spills from tankers have periodically devastated the Texas shoreline. In October 1989 and, nine months later, in July 1990, there were major fatal accidents at two Texas petrochemical plants within 10 miles (16 kilometers) of each other, near Houston.