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25 Annexation of Texas

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25. ANNEXATION OF TEXAS. The Louisiana Purchase in 1803 gave the United States a shadowy claim to Texas. This claim was strengthened by each succeeding ad ministration until 1819, when all rights beyond the river Sabine were given up as a considera tion to Spain for the cession of the Floridas. Between 1820 and 1830 great numbers of Amer icans settled in central Texas; most of these were from the Southern States, and they had carried their slaves with them. An arbitrary union in 1824 of this semi-Anglo-Saxon region to the Spanish state of Coahuila gave rise to inoch dissatisfaction; the abolition of slavery throughout the newly-established Mexican re public in 1829 increased the discontent of the thrifty Texan slaveholdcrs; but when, in 1830, the Mexican government forbade citizens of the United States to settle within the discon tented region and placed the country under mili tary control, the Texans demanded (1833) com plete separation from Coahuila and an inde pendent existence in the Mexican confederation. This was refused and a still closer surveillance was established by Santa Anna in 1834. Two _years later the Texans issued their declaration of independence and set up a government of their own. The fact that only two of the leaders of this movement were not American settlers isproof enough as to one cause of the conflict. Santa Anna attempted to put down the revolt; he failed disastrously. At San Ja cinto, in northeastern Texas, April 1836, the insurgents defeated the Mexicans and either killed or captured their entire army. A consti tution was now agreed upon and the republic of Texas firmly established. It is significant that the constitution provided expressly for the re-establishment of slavery, which had been maintained contrary to law since 1829. The boundaries of the new State were declared to be the Rio Grande on the southwest and the Sa bine, Red and Arkansas rivers — the line of 1819— on the north and northeast. These boundaries gave Texas a total area of 270.000 square miles— a territory equivalent to five of the larger States of the American Union. Gen. Sam Houston, the hero of San Jacinto, became the first President of the Texan Re public. The government thus founded was in its essential features a copy of that of the United States. Texas was recognized at once by the United States as an independent nation, and the powers of Europe followed suit in a few years.

Texas made application for admission into, the American Union in August 1837. President Van Buren opposed the proposition and tight States made formal protest against annexa tion. But as early as May 1836, one month after the battle of San Jacinto, John C. Cal houn had declared from his seat in the Senate that an independent power between the United States and Mexico was inadmissible; be favored immediate annexation, and, as he openly de dared, on the ground of the extension of slavery. Calhoun represented the South, and the South since 1830 had become more firmly anchored in slavery than ever. The States of Virginia, Maryland and the Carolinas exported not less than 50,000 slaves a year to the Far South and Southwest. An active propaganda favoring annexation immediately began; legis latures of most of the slave-holding States passed resolutions calling for annexation. Even the great influence of ex-President Jackson was given to the cause. But the Whig party won the election of 1840, and the Whigs, more a Northern than a Southern party, opposed an nexation. In order to °carry° the important

State of Virginia, which was already States rights and pro-annexation in political complex ion, John Tyler had been placed on the ticket with Harrison. Tyler, a Whig because of Jackson's high-handed methods rather than from principle, was a States-rights devotee, a slaveholder and a determined annexationist; he became President on the decease of Harri son in April 1841. In 1842 the Texans again knocked at the door of the Union. It would have been opened to them but for the opposition of Webster, the Secretary of State. Next year Webster resigned and Abel P. Upshur of Vir ginia was appointed to fill the vacancy. The new secretary belonged to the extreme States rights school of politicians. The Cabinet, which had been reformed in 1842, was now in accord with the executive. Annexation became at once the main business of the administration. In October 1843 Upshur informed the Texan rep resentative in Washington that a renewal of overtures for annexation would be welcome. Van Zandt asked for the requisite powers, but meanwhile the influence of the abolitionists had reached Texas and a sharp contest was waging there about the question of slavery. The pro slavery party, both in Texas and the United States, suspected English intrigue. A speech of Lord Aberdeen's in Parliament gave some color to this suspicion. The administration in quired of the English Cabinet the cause of the rumors circulating in Texas and the South and received a complete disavowal of any aim or intention on the part of the English government to interfere in any way with the affairs of the new republic. Still other influences had come into play: Texas had learned to stand alone; an armistice had been arranged with Mexico; a definite peace seemed more than probable. Houaton and the other leaders of Texas had lost their former enthusiasm for annexation. The wooing was now to come from the other side. The slave States of the United States became uneasy; the vast and fertile area of Texas seemed about to be lost to their cause; failure to act promptly had been the fatal cause, and now fear of war with Mexico gave ' the final motive to Texas for remaining out of the Union. The outlook was not quite so dismal as it seemed; the Texans inquired of Upshur, inJanuary 1844, whether the United States woul protect them against Mexico while the proposed negotiations were pending, for it was known to all that much difficulty and delay would be put in the way of annexation by the Whig party in the United States Senate. The Secretary of State did not answer this question, but his agents in Texas let it be known that protection would be guaranteed. The way was again open and negotiations now began in earn est. Upshur was killed, on 28 Feb. 1844, by the explosion of a gun on board the warship Prince ton. Tyler called John C. Calhoun, the first great mover of the annexation scheme, to the office thus made vacant. Calhoun accepted the State portfolio with the single purpose of fin ishing the work he had begun eight years be fore. The treaty was speedily concluded and ratified by the representatives of both countries. On 22 April 1844 it was sent to the Senate. The issue was now clearly drawn and the coun try immediately divided: Calhoun, sustained by the unanimous- voice of the Southern States, asked for immediate annexation; the Whigs, except its Southern wing, followed by the great majority of the North, denied the request.

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