TEXAS – IT IS BIG!!!!
is the only state that was a Republic before joining the Union. It is the second largest state in land mass and the third largest in population. It occupies approximately seven percent of the total land and water areas of the United States.. Now, that is a mighty big HUNK!!
Naming the state – a Historic translation
Texas owes its name to the Caddo tribe – and the Spaniards. During the Spanish exploration of Texas in the 1540s, the Spaniards met the Hasnai Caddo tribe in present-day East Texas. the Native Americans used the word tayshas for “friends” or “allies.” In Spanish, the translation came out as tejas. Eventually, Tejas became Texas.
Texas is also known as the Lone Star State, in reference to the state flag. The flag displays a single, five-point white star on a field of blue with an upper white horizontal stripe and a lower red horizontal stripe.
Texas declared independence from Mexico on March 2, 1836, to become the Republic of Texas.
Texas was admitted to the Union on December 29, 1845, as the 28th state.
Texas state government is divided into executive, legislative, and judicial branches. The governor is the chief executive of the state and is elected for a four-year term of office.
The Texas Legislature includes 31 members in the Senate and 150 members in the House of Representatives. State senators are elected for four-year terms. Representatives are elected for two year terms. Legislatures are paid $600 per month plus $90 per diem during regular and special sessions. The lieutenant governor serves as the president of the Senate. At the beginning of each regular session, members of the House of Representatives elect a Speaker of the House who serves as presiding officer. The Legislature convenes for regular sessions on the second Tuesday of January during odd numbered years. The governor may call special sessions. Although not a frequent occurrence, special sessions have been called for major issues such as the state budget and educational school tax reform.
Texas sends two senators and 30 representatives to the U.S. Congress (up three from the 1980 census), for a total of 32 electoral votes.
Tony Garza resigned on November 24, 1997, to run for Commissioner of the General Land Office. Appointed to fill his term as Secretary of State was Alberto R. Gonzales.
The office of Treasurer of the State of Texas was abolished by Constitutional amendment approved by the voters in an election Nov. 7,1995. Martha Whitehead was the last person to hold the office.
THE GOVERNMENT UNTIL 1999
Governor – George W. Bush, Jr. (Republican)
Lt. Governor – Bob Bullock (Democrat)
Secretary of State – Tony Garza (Republican)
Attorney General – Dan Morales (Democrat)
State Treasurer – Martha Whitehead (Democrat)
Comptroller – John Sharp (Democrat)
“In February 1845, Texas approved the resolution to enter the Union. Part of
that resolution, which came to be known as the Constitution of
1845, stated that Texas would retain its right to divide into four states in
addition to the original Texas. Although most Texans can’t imagine
splitting up the Lone Star State, the legal right to do so still remains!”
The US Congress passed a resolution offering statehood to the Republic of
Texas on 3/1/1845. Approved by Texas Congress on 6/19/1845. The Convention
of 1845 met, accepted statehood, and wrote the Constitution of 1845. The
federal resolution contains the Texas one-time-option of dividing, not any
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The judiciary of the state consists of the Supreme Court, with nine members elected to six year terms, nine members of the State Court of Criminal Appeals elected to six year terms, and the Courts of Appeals with 80 judges elected to serve six year terms. In addition, 386 State District Courts judges are elected to four year terms. The Texas court system also includes 10 Criminal District Courts, 174 County Courts at Law, 434 County Courts, 884 Justice of the Peace Courts, and 853 Municipal Courts.
THE SHAPE OF THE STATE
When Texas declared independence from Mexico in 1836, the land grab was on and Texans quickly claimed territory for their new republic. from the headwaters of the Rio Grande in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado, the western boundary stretched north to the 42nd parallel in Wyoming and followed the Rio Grande south through New Mexico to the Gulf of Mexico. the Sabine River set the eastern boundary. The northern border meandered along the red River tot the 100 degree meridian, then extended into present day Kansas. From there, the Arkansas River set the boundary into central Colorado. A long arm of territory reached into Wyoming.
When Texas joined the Union in 1845, the vast territory of the republic was mostly unsettled and was considered public land. The state did not turn over ownership of those public lands to the federal government upon joining the Union. Instead, the classic, if peculiar, shape of Texas known today was determined as part of the Compromise of 1850. For a $10 million price tag, Texas sold 98,300 square miles of that public land to the United States. The land included parts of Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Wyoming.
In February 1845, Texas approved the resolution to enter the Union. Part of that resolution, which came to be known as the Constitution of 1845, stated that Texas would retain its right to divide into four states in addition to the original Texas. Although most Texans can’t imagine splitting up the Lone Star State, the legal right to do so still remains!
When Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca was shipwrecked along the Texas coast in 1528, he and three surviving shipmates became the first Spaniards to explore the territory that would become Texas. Cabeza de Vaca and his companions lived among the Native Americans for eight years before returning home to what is now Mexico.. They took with them tales of cities of gold that caused great excitement. In 1540, Francisco Vasquez de Coronado set off with an army to find the fabled cities of gold. Coronado searched all the way to present day Kansas without ever finding the wealth described by Cabeza de Vaca.
In 1682, Frenchman Rene Robert Cavlier, Sieur de La Salle, followed the Mississippi River to its mouth and claimed all of the country that was drained by the great river for France. he called the area Louisiana, which included the territory of Texas. IN 1685, La Salle established a crude stockade, Fort St. Louis, on the Texas cost. But in 1690 Spaniard Alonso de Leon discovered that Native Americans had destroyed the fort and La Salle had been assassinated by one of his own men in 1687. The French flag flew over Texas for only five years, from 1685 until 1690, before the land once again became the property of Spain.
With the threat of the French removed, the Spanish immediately began establishing missions in East and central Texas. Along the San Antonio River, five missions still stand as testament to the Spanish heritage of Texas. financed by the Spanish government and directed by Franciscan friars between 1680 and 1773, the missions were civil as well as spiritual centers. Each mission was designed as a self-contained village, with a fortified wall surrounding a central plaza. The Alamo is the most famous of the missions. but the Mission San Jose is the state’s largest restored mission. Mission Concepcion, established in 1731, remains virtually untouched by any restoration, and original, slightly faded frescoes adorn the walls. Between Mission Espada and Mission San Juan Capistrano, a water system considered one of the oldest in the United States still carries water. More than 30 missions were established by the Spanish in Texas.
In 1803, when France sold Louisiana to the United States, and Texas found itself on the border of New Spain (present day Mexico) and the United States. The Spanish intended to colonize the territory with loyal subjects and keep out the land hungry Americans. but in 1821, Spain gave Stephen F. Austin permission to bring American families into the territory. That small crack in the border would lead to the Anglo-American settlement of Texas. Austin’s colonists began arriving in 1823, only to find that Mexico had won its independence from Spain.. The Territory was now the Mexican state of Coahuila-Texas.
BECOMING A REPUBLIC
The colonization of Texas as a Mexican state brought Anglos westward from the United States and Mexicans northward. Differences in language and culture led to tension. Most Mexicans were Catholic and most Anglos were Protestant. The Americans felt ties to the United States, not Mexico. Trade grew between Texas and the United States, alarming Mexico. In 1830, the Mexican Congress passed a law that stopped American immigration into Texas. it initiated custom collections as the government tried to stay in control. Dissatisfaction spread among the settlers, and in 1832, skirmishes broke out that signaled the coming revolution.
War broke out in Gonzales on October 2, 1835, when Mexican troops attempted to confiscate a cannon from Texas settlers. Waving a banner that read, “Come And Take It,” the Texans defeated the Mexicans. The Texas Revolution lasted from that October until the Battle of San Jacinto on April 21, 1836.
Santa Anna surrounded the Alamo on February 23, 1836. He finally attacked n March 6. All of Texas’ 187 men died in the battle, including David Crockett, James Bowie, and William Travis. Toribio Losoya, a 27 year old who was born at the Alamo compound, was one of eight native born Mexicans who fought on the side of Texas. The four corners of the church crumbled, and Santa Anna burned the interior. Yet the church’s front limestone wall survived with its delicate carvings intact. Over the arched doorway of the Alamo, the keystone still bears the carving of the royal seal of the Spanish Crown.
On April 21, 1836, Sam Houston and his Texas forces defeated Mexican troops at the Battle of San Jacinto. It was the Texas Revolution’s decisive battle and lasted a short 18 minutes. Houston attacked the Mexicans during the afternoon while Santa Anna, the Mexican president, was taking his siesta. When the smoke cleared, Santa Anna was nowhere in sight, and Houston dispatched patrols to find the Mexican general. While on patrol, James Sylvester spotted a group of deer grazing in the grass. The Kentucky sharpshooter leveled his gun, but a movement nearby spooked the animals. When Sylvester went to investigate, a Mexican in a dirty hat bolted from the grass only to fall flat on his face in front of his captors. As the patrol rode back into camp with their catch, Mexican prisoners began shouting, “El Presidente!” James Sylvester had captured Santa Anna.
Officials dedicated the San Jacinto Monument on April 21, 1939, to commemorate the battle that finally declared Texas independent from Mexico. The tower of the monument rises 570 feet, taller than either the Washington Monument of the Statue of Liberty. The 35 foot high star atop the tower is faced with three inch thick Texas Cordova shell limestone.
Sam Houston served two terms as a Tennessee congressman and was elected governor in 1827. Resigning from office after the dissolution of his marriage, he lived with the Cherokee in Indian Territory (Oklahoma) for six years. By 1835, Houston had moved to Texas where he served his adopted home for three decades. He was a military commander, a two-term president of the republic, and a US. senator after annexation. Like any person in public life, Houston had enemies. None was quite as irritating as Mirabeau B. Lamar – a man he disagreed with on almost every issue. Houston advocated Native American rights’; Lamar worked to eradicate entire native populations. Houston wanted to avoid the Civil War; Lamar favored secession. The political rivalry between the two —never a secret –became glaringly apparent at Lamar’s inauguration as president of the Republic of Texas in December 1838. The crowd expected a brief, dignified introduction of the new president. Instead, Houston came dressed in “George Washington” attire, complete with nee britches and white wig. He then began a three hour speech. When Houston finally stepped down, Lamar was too exhausted to deliver his inaugural address. His private secretary read it to the inattentive audience.
During its history, Texas has had eight changes of sovereignty, and six flags have flown over the state.
The Lone Star symbol has flown above many historic events. When fighting began in Gonzales in October 1835, the star was outlined on a white banner above a cannon barrel and the daring words “Come And Take It.
The challenge referred to a small, brass cannon that Mexico had issued to Texans for defense against Native Americans. Mexico wanted the cannon that Mexico had issued to Texans for defense against Native Americans. Mexico wanted the cannon returned and it wanted the upstart Texans to submit to governmental rule. In December 1835, Texans fought at San Antonio de Bexar under a flag sewn by Sarah Dodson, who made the banner for her husband and his fighting compatriots. A long, tricolor banner of red, white, and blue displayed the familiar five-point star on the blue field.
At the Battle of Goliad in December 1835, volunteers from Georgia arrived waving a white silk flag stitched by Joanna Troutman, an 18 year old Georgian who had never been to Texas. Her flag featured a blue, five point star with the words “LIBERTY OR DEATH” inscribed beneath the star. On February 13, 1913, the Texas Legislature named her the “Betsy Ross of Texas” for her Lone Star flag. In May 1836, the “Lorenzo de Zaval flag” was adopted as the banner for the fledgling Republic of Texas. It featured a blue background with a centered white star circled by the letters T-E-X-A-S. Later that same year, on December 10, the Republic opted for a different flag. The “David G. Burnet flag” also featured a blue background, but with a gold, five-point star in the center. Neither flag gained support from the citizens. finally, on January 25, 1839, the Third Congress of the Republic officially accepted a flag designed by Dr. Charles Stewart. That Lone Star flag of the Republic still waves today over the Lone Star State.
At the Battle of the Alamo in 1836, Mexican forces captured a Lone Star flag. since then, the banner has been displayed at Chapultepec Castle in Mexico City. The cotton “Alamo Flag” is trimmed in gold and embroidered with an eagle. In its beak, the eagle holds a banner that reads “God and Liberty.” Texans, in turn, captured three Mexican flags when they defeated General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna on April 21, 1836, at the Battle of San Jacinto. the Mexican banners were preserved in storage in Austin. The North American Free Trade Agreement has prompted officials in both countries to exchange these flags. As of August 1994, discussions were ongoing and may lead to a trade of the banners.
TEXAS SYMBOLS AND SONGS
In Article IV, Section 19, of the Texas State Constitution states that the Great Seal of the State of Texas consists of “a star of five points, encircled by olive and live oak branches, and the words, “The State of Texas”.
A Confederate Air Force
After World War II, a group of former service pilots took to the air as crop dusters in Texas’ Lower Rio Grande Valley. A handful of them pooled their money in 1957 to purchase a P-51D Mustang, one of the few surplus airplanes that had survived the war. As the pilots searched for other aircraft from the war era, they discovered that most had been destroyed. They vowed to find and preserve more W.W.II aircraft for future generations, and the Confederate Air Force was born. Today, those pilots have amassed ore than 140 aircraft in what has become the nation’s most complete collection of flyable W.W.II combat aircraft. In 1989, the state recognized their historic contribution by naming the Confederate Air Force the official Air Force of Texas.
STATE OF TEXAS SYMBOLS
State Tree – Pecan, adopted in 1919
State Flower – Bluebonnet, adopted in 1901
State Bird – Mockingbird, adopted in 1927
State Motto – Friendship, adopted in 1930
State Insect – Monarch Butterfly
State Stone – Petrified palmwood, adopted in 1969
State Gem – Texas blue topaz, adopted in 1969
State Grass – Sideoats grama, adopted in 1971
State Dish – Chili, adopted in 1977
State Fish – Guadalupe bass, adopted in 1989
State Folk Dance – Square dance, adopted in 1991
State Fruit – Texas red grapefruit, adopted in 1993
State Seashell – Lightning whelk, adopted in 1987
State Song – Texas, Our Texas, adopted in 1929
Unofficial State Song – They Eyes of Texas are Upon You”.
TEXAS OUR TEXAS
Texas, our Texas! All hail the mighty State! Texas, our Texas! So wonderful, so great! Boldest and grandest, withstanding every test; O empire wide and glorious you stand supremely blest. (Chorus)
Texas, O Texas! Your freeborn single star, Sends out its radiance to nations near and far, Emblem of freedom! It sets our hearts aglow, With thoughts of San Jacinto and glorious Alamo. (Chorus)
Texas, dear Texas! From tyrant grip now free. Shines forth n splendor your star of destiny! Mother of Heroes! We come your children true. Proclaiming our allegiance, our faith, our love for you. (Chorus)
Chorus: God bless you, Texas! And keep you brave and strong. That you may grow in power and worth, throughout the ages long.
THE HISTORY OF CAPITALS AND CAPITOLS
When 27 year old Stephen F. Austin inherited a land grant from his father, Moses, he quite by accident began his journey to becoming the “father of Texas.” Austin worked for more than a year I Mexico to secure the right to colonize Texas territory then belonging to the Mexican government. His determination was rewarded, and San Felipe de Austin at Atascosito Crossing on the Brazos River was established as the seat of government for the colonists. So began the Anglo-American settlement of Texas. During 1823 and 1824, land titles were given to families settling in the area. Those original Texas colonist became known as “The Old 300.” Families engaged in faring received a labor of land, or about 177 acres. Those raising livestock were given a league of land, about 4,428 acres. Austin laid claim to about 22 leagues. He died on December 27, 1836, only eight months after Texas won its independence from Mexico.
Although San Felipe de Austin is known as the first capital of Texas, Washington on the Brazos is considered the birthplace of the Republic of Texas. Located just 150 miles east of San Antonio de Bexar in March 1836, the tiny town was ill prepared to serve the representatives who arrived to draft the Declaration of Independence. The town began in 1822 as a ferry crossing on the Brazos River. When the delegates arrived, the place barely offered the necessities of life, much less any luxuries. William Fairfax Gray looked on as events unfolded and described the town as having “only one well defined street” and “about a dozen wretched cabins or shanties.” A single tavern offered meager lodging that consisted of a single room with two fireplaces. During their 17 day stay in the capital, the delegates endured the same menu for breakfast, lunch, and dinner —beans, cornbread, and fried pork.
When delegates hastily departed Washington-on-the-Brazos on March 17, 1836, the Alamo had fallen and Mexican forces were only a few days march away. To escape capture by Santa Anna and other Mexican generals, the government relocated temporarily at Harrisburg, and then Galveston Island. After the republic’s victory at San Jacinto, President Burnet moved the capital to Velasco. There, on May 14, 1836, Santa Anna signed two treaties that ended the Texas Revolution.
But the search for a permanent capital didn’t end. In October 1836, the seat of government moved to Columbia, where Texas’ only legitimate newspaper, the Telegraph and Texas Register, was published. Sam Houston took over as president that same month. In April 1837, the capital moved once again – this time to his namesake town of Houston on Buffalo Bayou. At the time, the town was little more than a muddy tract of land with two saloons, a few log cabins, and tents. A two-story, unfinished building housed the government.
In October 1839, with Mirabeau B. Lamar as president, the government chose as a capital a town more centrally located n the republic’s territory. The community of Waterloo, settled by four families on the north bank of the Colorado River, was renamed Austin in honor of Stephen F. Austin, and became the permanent capital of the republic. Furniture and archives of the government were moved from Houston by 50 covered wagons in the fall of 1839.
The capital issue appeared to be settled in 1839. But when Sam Houston assumed the presidency of the republic again in 1841, he attempted to move the government’s headquarters from Austin back to Houston. He secretly ordered the republic’s official records removed from Austin. The attempted late-night record theft was thwarted when Mrs. Angelina Eberly fired a cannon and alerted Austin citizens to the shenanigans. A party of Austin residents retrieved the records, and the seat of government was saved in Austin. The historical farce has became known as the “Archive War.”
When Texas needed a new capitol building in 1882, the state was cash-poor and land-rich. So the legislature accepted bids from anyone willing to construct the building in exchange for 3 million acres of Panhandle land. A syndicate of four Chicago businessmen got the bid, the 3 million acres, and an extra 50,000 acres for surveying the West Texas soil. The deal created the 3,050,000 acre XIT Ranch – a 30 mile wide piece of land stretching 200 miles along the Texas-New Mexico border through 10 counties. The cattle herd averaged about 150,000 head. The ranch lasted until 1912 when the last cow was sold. Crops such as wheat and cotton made the property more valuable as farmland and the XIT ranch was sold off piece by piece for about $2.50 per acre.
The State Capitol that stands today on an Austin hilltop opened on May 16, 1888, amid a week of celebration. The building, designed by Michigan architect Elijah E. Myers, resembles the National Capitol, with a similar dome and separate wings for the state Senate and House. There is one notable exception to the similarities. The Texas Capitol is about 7 feet higher than the National Capitol. It is the tallest capitol in the United States today, rising 309 feet 8 inches from the basement floor to the top of the Goddess of Liberty statue.
The distinctive pink granite used for the exterior walls wasn’t the first choice of state officials or the building contractors. Originally, the plan called for decorative limestone walls to be erected on a base of granite stones brought from Granite Mountain near Burnet. But in March 1884, when the first load of native limestone arrived, building superintendent R. L. Walker rejected the entire 60 ton shipment. Walker found traces of iron pyrites, or fool’s gold , in the limestone. When exposed to the atmosphere, iron pyrites rusted, streaked, and marred the light limestone. Since Governor John Ireland insisted that native building materials be used in the Capitol’s construction, native pink granite was substituted for the limestone. Residents of Austin were happy with the choice when they got their first look at the granite cornerstone during an unveiling on March 2, 1885. The massive granite statehouse was officially transferred to the citizens of Texas on December 8, 188. At the time, it was the largest state Capital Building in the nation.
In 1989, Texas began a six year project to restore the Capitol to its original beauty. Costing $192 million, the statehouse was given an interior and exterior face lift for the first time. The land office and the oldest state office building were also restored, and a new 165,000 square foot underground building was built just north of the Capitol.
A CONFEDERATE STATE
In 1859, most Texans cared little about secession. But several events swung the pendulum. Native American raids persisted on the frontier and Texas turned to the federal government. When Congress failed to offer aid, Texans lost faith in the government. About 90 percent of Texas’ Anglo immigrants were from the South, and with the election of Abraham Lincoln as president, secessionists had more ammunition. On February 1st, 1861, exactly 25 years after Texas proclaimed independence from Mexico, the state seceded from the Union. The citizens of the State of Texas endorsed secession at the ballot box by a vote of
3-1.Governor Houston was removed from office when he wouldn’t support the action. Lt. Governor Edward Clark served out Houston’s term. About 2,000 Texans volunteered to serve in the Union Army. More than 70,000 Texans served in the Confederate Army.
During the Civil War, “cotton roads” led from the Texas interior to the Mexican border towns along the Rio Grande. Haulers took bales down the hazardous roads through the brush South Texas country. Empty cotton wagons were then loaded with guns, ammunition, cloth, nails, sugar, medicine, and other supplies needed by Confederate troops in Texas.
The last battle of the Civil War was fought on Texas soil at Palmito Ranch east of Brownsville. About 300 Confederate soldiers led by Colonel John Solomon ford defeated Union forces that consisted of two African American regiments and a company of unmounted Texas cavalry. the battle took pace on may 12 -13, 1865, and the Confederates won. but they learned from Union prisoners that General Lee had surrendered at Appomattox more than a month earlier.
President Lincoln issued the emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, and freed an estimated 200,000 slaves. But the news didn’t reach Texas until June 19th, 1865, when Major General Gordon Granger read the proclamation in Galveston, June 19th, or “Juneteenth” became an anniversary to be remembered and honored by former slaves and Juneteenth celebrations spread across the state. The historic day drew official recognition when Texas State Representative Al Edwards of Houston sponsored House Bill 1016. On January 1, 1980, Juneteenth was made a state holiday, the first state holiday in the nation to honor emancipation.
Many German settlers in Central Texas preferred to remain neutral during the Civil War. But Confederate military officials condemned them as traitors. When Texan Partisan Rangers began lynching some of the men and boys, a few settlers tried to flee to Mexico for safety. On August 10, 1862, the rangers caught up with a group in Kinney County, near the Nueces River. The rangers attacked, killing 19. Nine wounded settlers were later executed. Eight escaped, only to be killed on October 18th while trying to cross the Rio Grande. The battle became known as the Nueces River Massacre. The remains of the dead were buried in a mass grave in Comfort on August 1865, and a monument was erected in 1866 in memory of the men who were true to the Union, or Treue der Union. Today, a 36 star U.S. flag flies at half-mast in perpetuity at the Treue der Union Monument to honor the slain settlers.
THE TAMING OF THE WEST
When the United States annexed Texas, a dispute arose about the state’s southern boundary.. The disagreement triggered the war with Mexico in 1846. Most of the fighting took place in Mexico, with about 5,000 Texans actually serving. When the war ended, a treaty was signed in February 1848, establishing the Rio Grande as the boundary. Even though the war was officially ended, the actual boundary dispute wasn’t settled until 1863. It seems the Rio Grande shifted after the United States signed the treaty ending the Mexican War. Mexico was ready to settle in 1911, when an arbitration commission gave them land south of the present river channel. The United States said no. Finally, in July 1963, President John F. Kennedy and President Lopez Mateos signed the Chamizal settlement giving Mexico 437 acres of land and selling some U.S. property to a Mexican bank. Today the Chamizal National Memorial at El Paso commemorates the settlement of the dispute.
THE STRONG ARM OF THE LAW
After the Texas Revolution, bandits roamed the Mexican border, Native Americans controlled the Western Plains, and desperadoes hid out in the countryside. To stem the lawlessness, the Texas government turned to the Texas Rangers, a unique group of lawmen established by Stephen F Austin in 1826. Men such as “Big Foot ” Wallace, John Coffee Hays, and Samuel H. Walker tracked down outlaws, settled feuds, and reconciled land disputes. In 1846, Ranger Walker and Samuel Colt modified the Colt revolver into the Walker Colt, a six shooter specially adapted for the range. Ranger Jim R. Hughes wore a badge for 28 years between 1887 and 1915, but lived on in legend as the fictional hero in the novel The Lone Star Ranger, penned by Zane Grey. ranger Captain Bill McDonald earned a reputation as “the man who would charge hell with a bucket of water.” In 1935, the Rangers became a branch of the Texas Department of Public Safety and today the organization still works for law and order in the state.