Texans used to brag a lot more than we do now, and one source of pride
was that Texas alone of the forty-eight
states had been an independent republic before we annexed the United
That statement right there is full of braggadocio, isn't it?
Anyway, the admission of Hawaii tampered with our claim to exclusiveness
in independent nationhood, though those little bitty islands did spend
more than sixty years as a territory before becoming a state while
we made the metamorphosis in a flicker after nine years of independence.
Four presidents served the Republic of Texas during that time. First
came interim president David G. Burnet, who was selected for
the post by the second meeting of the Consultation in March 1836.
Burnet was never elected by the people, so he was really a caretaker
for the Consultation for six months until Sam
Houston became the first elected president of the Republic
served for two years -- a constitutional limitation for the first
president only; successors served three-year terms, though none could
succeed themselves immediately. Here is a list of Houston's
problems: no money, or really any way to raise it, but a mountain
of debt from the revolution; Mexico repudiated the Treaties
of Velasco in which Santa Anna agreed to Texas'
independence to save his life, and could have mounted another invasion
at any time; and Texas was unrecognized
by the nations of the world. Houston
sought immediate annexation, on any terms, but anti-slavery forces
prevented the US from accepting Texas.
was succeeded in 1838 by Mirabeau
Buonaparte Lamar, who had served as Houston's
vice president. It is difficult to imagine men more different in physique,
personality, or program.
was a large, boisterous man, Lamar slight of build; Houston
was all action, while Lamar
was more reserved and thoughtful; and Houston
wanted to get Texas into the Union
as quickly as possible and bequeath its problems to the larger US,
wanted Texas to remain independent, even expand to California. Most
Texans probably think their concept of self-reliance and independence
are the legacy of Houston.
In fact, these traits better describe Lamar.
could not retain the presidency in 1841, so Houston
took another turn. Lamar
had spent millions of borrowed money, but Houston
spent only $600,000 in three years and renewed efforts to join the
Union. He got close. His administration negotiated a treaty that would
have added Texas to the US as a territory, but it failed by a single
vote in the US Senate. That rejection affected presidential elections
in both nations and produced annexation advocates in both -- James
K. Polk in the US and Anson
Jones in Texas.
served a year in which Congress admitted Texas as a state by joint
resolution, effective December 29, 1845.
Jones styled himself thereafter as the Architect of Annexation
but the claim is hollow for he actually reaped the seeds sown and
tended by old "Sam Jacinto" for six of the preceding nine years.
Texas would still be the largest
state except Alaska came right along with Hawaii and messed that up,
All Things Historical
(Archie P. McDonald is Director of the East Texas Historical Association
and author or editor of over 20 books on Texas)
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