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A giant among states, vast Texas was once a sovereign nation. During 300

years of rule by Spain, it had sprawled like a sleeping giant, its riches

undeveloped and its colonization limited to a few missions, supported by

presidios (military posts). When Mexico became an independent country in

1821, Texas became a Mexican state and new settlers from the United States

were welcomed. The large influx of Anglo-American colonists and African

American slaves led to skirmishes with Mexican troops.

After a successful war of independence against Mexico, the Texans raised

the Lone Star flag over their own republic in 1836. This government was

officially recognized by the United States and by several European

countries. Then in 1845 Texas accepted annexation by the United States and

was admitted to the Union as the 28th state.

Texas is second only to Alaska in area. It covers more territory than the

total area of five Midwestern states--Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin,

and Michigan. There are 254 counties in Texas. Its largest county,

Brewster, is about as big as Connecticut and Rhode Island combined. Its

smallest, Rockwall, is only 147 square miles (381 square kilometers) in

area. For a time Texas had a peak mileage of more than 17,000 miles (27,358

kilometers) of main-track railroad, but the total has been declining ever

since the 1930s.

Cotton, first raised on the Blackland Prairies, has long been the most

important crop of Texas. Much of it is now grown on the Great Plains, an

achievement made possible by the discovery of a sandy, water-laden subsoil

beneath the area's dry surface. On the Rio Grande irrigation has given rise

to a great fruit-growing belt, while along the Nueces River vegetable crops

are harvested in an 11-month growing season. Texas leads the nation in beef

production, an industry that began to flourish in 1866, when cowboys first

drove wild longhorns north to market. Today scientifically bred cattle are

raised on the plains.

"Black gold," or crude oil, was found in Texas in the 19th century, but it

was the discovery of the gigantic east Texas oil field in 1930 that

revolutionized the agrarian state. Although much of the wealth of modern

Texas stems from its widespread petroleum-bearing formations, industry has

become increasingly diversified since the end of World War II.

The name Texas comes from a Caddo Indian word meaning "friends" or

"allies." The Spanish explorers pronounced the word tejas and gave this

name to the area. The nickname Lone Star State comes from the single star

in the Texas flag, which was officially adopted by the Republic of Texas in

1839. The Texas and Hawaii flags are the only state emblems that originally

flew over recognized independent countries.

Survey of the Lone Star State

Texas lies in the south-central region of the United States. Its

southwestern and southern boundary is formed by the Rio Grande. Across the

river are the Mexican states of Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo Leуn, and

Tamaulipas. On the southeast Texas borders on the Gulf of Mexico for 367

miles (591 kilometers). To the east are Louisiana and Arkansas, with the

Sabine River forming the boundary with Louisiana for 180 miles (290

kilometers). To the north is Oklahoma, with the Red River providing the

boundary line for 480 miles (772 kilometers). New Mexico is to the west.

The Lone Star State is both longer and wider than any other state except

Alaska. Its greatest length, from north to south, is 801 miles (1,289

kilometers)--a figure that includes the Panhandle, which extends north of

the upper Red River for about 133 miles (214 kilometers). The state's

greatest width is 773 miles (1,244 kilometers). Both of the overall

distances are greater than the airline mileage between New York City and

Chicago. The area of the state is 266,807 square miles (691,027 square

kilometers), including 4,790 square miles (12,406 square kilometers) of

inland water surface.

Natural Regions

Texas has a wide variety in its geology, minerals, soils, vegetation, and

wildlife. Its elevation ranges from sea level along the coast of the Gulf

of Mexico to 8,751 feet (2,667 meters) at Guadalup

The Gulf Coastal Plain covers southern and eastern Texas and includes

about 40 percent of the state's area. Along the coast are many long barrier

beaches, such as Padre Island, separated from the mainland by lagoons.

Galveston is the largest of the bays. The plain extends 150 to 250 miles

(240 to 400 kilometers) inland to a series of hills that sweep across Texas

from Denison on the Red River to Del Rio on the Rio Grande. The western

part of this line (between Austin and Del Rio) is called the Balcones


The Gulf Coastal Plain may be divided into five distinct sections. They

are: the Rio Grande plain, in the south; the coastal prairies, from the San

Antonio River to the Sabine River; the Pine Belt, or Piney Woods, from the

Louisiana line westward about 100 miles (160 kilometers); the Post Oak

Belt, west of the Pine Belt; and the Blackland Prairies, along the western

edge of the Gulf Coastal Plain from the Red River to a point near San


e Peak in Culberson County. Within the state are four large natural


The Central Lowland covers the eastern edge of the Panhandle and the north-

central part of the state. It extends southward to include Fort Worth,

Abilene, and Colorado City. The eastern part of this region includes the

Grand, or Fort Worth, Prairie, sandwiched between the East and West Cross

Timbers belts. The remainder of the Central Lowland consists of rolling


The Great Plains extend over most of the Panhandle and west-central and

central Texas. This vast tableland ranges in elevation from 2,500 to 4,700

feet (760 to 1,430 meters). In the Panhandle are the High Plains, or Llano

Estacado (Staked Plain), a dry, flat, treeless area. To the east the

central Texas section extends almost as far as Waco and Austin. The

southeastern extension of the Great Plains is the Edwards Plateau. Across

the lower Pecos River the plain continues westward as the Stockton Plateau.

This section is sometimes called the Trans-Pecos.

The Basin and Range Region covers the extreme western part of the state. It

has a series of rugged mountain ranges and dry, sandy basins. In Hudspeth

County is the Diablo Plateau, or Bolston, between the Guadalupe and Hueco

mountains. In a southward loop of the Rio Grande is a rugged area that

includes Big Bend National Park. The Chisos Mountains lie within the park.

Thousands of acres in the upper Rio Grande valley near El Paso are

irrigated from Elephant Butte Reservoir in New Mexico.

Most of the rivers of Texas flow in a southeasterly direction into the Gulf

of Mexico. From the state's eastern border to its western border, the

largest of these rivers are the Sabine, Neches, Trinity, Brazos, Colorado

(of Texas), Guadalupe, San Antonio, Nueces, and Rio Grande with its chief

branch, the Pecos. The northern edge of the state lies in the Mississippi

River basin. Within this section are the Canadian River, which flows across

the Panhandle, and the Red River, on the Texas-Oklahoma border.


Texas has three main types of climate. A narrow strip along the coast has a

marine climate tempered by winds from the Gulf of Mexico. Here temperatures

are fairly uniform, with pleasant summers and mild winters. The Gulf coast

area, from Brownsville northward, can experience severe ocean-borne storms,

including destructive hurricanes. The mountain climate of western Texas

brings dry, clear days with dramatic dips in temperature at nightfall. The

rest of the state has a continental climate with cold winters and hot

summers. Quick temperature changes are common in this area. The warmest

part of the state is the lower Rio Grande valley, which has an average

annual temperature of 74° F (23° C). The coldest is the northwest

Panhandle, with a 54° F (12° C) average.

Average annual precipitation (rain and melted snow) varies from 58 inches

(147 centimeters) in the extreme eastern part of the state to less than 10

inches (25 centimeters) near El Paso. In most parts of the state, the

greatest amount of rainfall occurs between April and July and is especially

heavy during May. Snowfall is generally limited to the northern plains

area, where it averages about 15 inches (38 centimeters) annually.

Natural Resources

Texas has a rich supply of natural resources. The eastern part of the state

is a productive farming region with fertile soil and ample rainfall. Where

western Texas can be irrigated, it has huge grazing areas and valuable

cropland. Almost 10 percent of the state is forested. The largest amount of

timber is in eastern Texas, where the forest area extends over 43 counties.

The chief commercial trees are several varieties of pine and oak, elm,

hickory, magnolia, sweet gum, black gum, and tupelo.

The mineral resources, led by petroleum, are the most valuable in the

nation. The major commercial advantages of the state are its excellent

ports for trade with Central and South America. The Gulf coast yields

valuable catches of shrimp.

The chief conservation problem is the maintenance of an adequate water

supply, particularly in western Texas and in the large urban and industrial

centers. Since 1930 many dams have been built to provide flood control,

power, and irrigation. Today about one fourth of the reservoirs they formed

have a storage capacity of more than 100,000 acre-feet each. The largest is

Toledo Bend, on the Sabine River. Next in size are Amistad, on the Rio

Grande, and Sam Rayburn, on the Angelina. Other large projects include Lake

Texoma, formed by Denison Dam, on the Red River and Falcon Reservoir, on

the Rio Grande. Amistad and Falcon benefit both the United States and


The Texas Water Commission administers water rights and control. There are

also many separate river authorities and water districts. Timber

conservation is directed by the Texas Forest Service, a division of Texas

A&M University. Wildlife is protected by the Texas Parks and Wildlife

Department. The federal Department of the Interior maintains 11 national

wildlife refuges, including the Aransas refuge, along the coast.

People of Texas

The early Native American residents of Texas were the Caddo in the

southeast, the Tonkawa in the southwest, and the Atakapa and Karankawa

along the coast. Later the Comanche moved into central and western Texas

from the north. Fierce Plains Indians, the Comanche were not brought under

outside control until about 1875. This action opened the Panhandle and the

western plains to settlement.

During the early days of Spanish rule, Texas attracted few new settlers

other than missionaries. By 1806 the population was no more than 7,000.

After the establishment of a colony of Anglo-Americans by Stephen Fuller

Austin in 1821, similar settlers came in increasing numbers. Many came from

the South, bringing slaves with them. Later, newcomers arrived from the

East and Midwest. Today most of the migration into Texas comes from

Oklahoma, Louisiana, and Arkansas. Of the Texas-born people living in other

states, the largest number are in California.

Texas has more than 3 million people of Hispanic origin, most of whom are

concentrated along the Rio Grande and in southern Texas . The state also

has more than 2 million African Americans, chiefly in the south and east.

Almost 6 percent of the people are foreign born--mainly emigrants from

Mexico. The population also includes about 50,000 Native Americans and

about 39,000 people of Chinese and Japanese descent.


Texas has 16 cities with a population of more than 100,000. The largest is

Houston, a financial and industrial center. The city is connected to

Galveston Bay by the 52-mile (84-kilometer) Houston Ship Channel, along

which is one of the world's greatest concentrations of industry. With the

Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center of the National Aeronautics and Space

Administration (NASA) nearby the area is also a focus of the space

industry. Dallas, the second largest city, is a fashion, insurance, and

finance center . Third in size is the historic city of San Antonio, home of

the famous mission turned military post--the Alamo--and the chief trade

center of southern Texas. Nearby are four bases of the United States Air

Force--Brooks, Kelly, Lackland, and Randolph.

Located on the Rio Grande, El Paso serves as a busy gateway to

Mexico and is the chief trade center of western Texas. West of Dallas is

Fort Worth, a noted livestock and grain market. Austin, the sixth largest

city, is the state capital; located in the south-central part of Texas, it

grew according to plans laid out in 1839. The next largest city in the

state is Corpus Christi, a year-round resort and deepwater port located on

the Gulf of.

Lubbock, the commercial hub of a rich cotton-growing area in the Great

Plains, and Amarillo are the chief cities of the Panhandle. Beaumont, the

chief city of the Sabine-Neches industrial area in the extreme southeast,

is noted for its shipments of petroleum. Waco is an agricultural and

industrial center on the Brazos River about halfway between Dallas and

Austin. Between Dallas and Fort Worth is Arlington, an industrial and

commercial center for the automotive and aerospace industries. Wichita

Falls is a petroleum center in north-central Texas. Galveston, a cotton-

and sulfur-shipping port on the Gulf of Mexico, also boasts a flourishing

tourism industry.


In 1900 the two leading manufacturing industries in Texas were lumbering

and the processing of grain. Since that time there has been a rapid

increase in the number and types of manufacturing plants. During World War

II the value of Texas manufacturing multiplied almost four times.

Manufacturing value today exceeds 53 billion dollars. Texas is the chief

manufacturing state in the South, and the value of its manufacturing is

surpassed only by that of California among the states west of the

Mississippi River.

Most of the increase in industry has been due to the rise of petroleum

refining, which followed the discovery of the great Spindletop oil field in

1901 and has become the most important industry in Texas. Texas now refines

more petroleum than any other state. Ranked second is the manufacture of

chemicals and allied products, which includes organic chemicals and

plastics. The third most important industry is the processing of food

products. This includes meat-packing and the preparation of bakery goods,

flour and meal, and soft drinks. Fourth in importance is tourism.


In farm income, Texas is first among the Southern states and second or

third in the nation. The annual cash income from Texas agricultural

products, estimated at about 9 billion dollars, is usually surpassed only

by the agricultural income of California--and sometimes Iowa. Texas has

about 160,000 farms, more than any other state. Some farms contain

thousands of acres. The average size is about 838 acres (339 hectares).

Texas leads all the states in the production of cotton, cattle, wool, and

sorghum grain. Irrigation is a major factor in crop production. Much of the

irrigated land is in the High Plains. Other large irrigated areas are the

lower Rio Grande valley, the Coastal Prairies, the Pecos Valley, and the

Rio Grande Plain.

Livestock and related products usually account for more than half the

yearly farm income. Crops account for the rest. Texas leads nationally in

the number of cattle, horses, sheep, and lambs. Cattle ranks in value as

the most important commodity in almost every Texas county.

The state 's chief cash crop is cotton. Texas leads the nation in cotton

lint and cottonseed. The major producing counties are Gaines, Dawson,

Terry, Cameron, and Martin. Sorghum grain is usually second in value. Wheat

for grain is the third most valuable crop; the Panhandle is noted for its

wheat. Corn ranks fourth in value. Other farm products are milk, eggs,

chickens, hay, pigs, peanuts, rice, turkeys, wool, oats, and mohair. Texas

ranks among the first five states in the production of broomcorn, flaxseed,

grapefruit and oranges, pecans, sweet clover seed, sweet potatoes, carrots,

and onions.


The mineral resources of Texas yield an annual value of about 45 billion

dollars--more than that of any other state. Most of the income is derived

from petroleum, in which Texas leads the nation. The East Texas field is

one of the most productive in the world. Top producing counties in Texas

are Pecos, Yoakum, Gaines, Ector, and Gregg. Gregg was the first county to

produce more than 2 billion barrels of petroleum ever since records have

been kept.

The second and third most valuable minerals are natural gas and coal.

Pipelines carry natural gas, as well as petroleum, from Texas to all

sections of the country. Texas is one of the nation ' s chief sources of

helium, with much of the production centered at Amarillo, Exell, and Dumas.

Cement is fourth in importance. Texas ranks among the leading cement-

producing states. The Gulf Coastal Plain is one of the nation 's richest

sources of sulfur. Magnesium is processed from seawater at Freeport's

electrolytic plant. Among other minerals produced in the state are stone,

sand and gravel, lime, salt, and gypsum.


Because of its huge size, Texas has had to develop a vast network of

transportation routes by road, rail, water, and air. The Texas Department

of Highways and Public Transportation, established in 1917, maintains about

71,000 miles (114,260 kilometers) of state roads.

In addition to the state roads and dozens of federal routes, a number of

highways in the Interstate system cross Texas. Interstates 10, 20, and 40

are major east-west routes. Crossing parts of Texas from north to south are

Interstates 35, 45, and 27. Interstate 30 runs northeastward from Dallas.

The first railroad in Texas was a 20-mile (32-kilometer) line in the

Houston area that was completed in 1853. Transcontinental service became a

reality in 1881, when the Southern Pacific linked the state with

California. Today Texas is served by a statewide network of railroads and

by a number of major airlines. The Dallas-Fort Worth Regional Airport is

the nation's largest in terms of land area and one of the busiest.

Thirteen deepwater ports handle shipments of petroleum products, cotton,

and wheat. Routes of travel are the Intracoastal Waterway (extending

eastward from Brownsville) and the Gulf of Mexico. The Houston Ship

Channel, which opened in 1915, has helped make that city one of the great

United States ports. The other major ports are Port Arthur, Beaumont, Texas

City, Corpus Christi, Port Aransas, and Galveston.


In an average year Texas is visited by more than 40 million tourists. One

of the chief attractions is the rugged land of mountains and canyons in the

Trans-Pecos. This region includes Big Bend National Park and Guadalupe

Mountains National Park. Palo Duro Canyon cuts a 1,000-foot- (300-meter-)

deep slash through the high plains of the Texas Panhandle. The Gulf coast

has many fine beaches and resorts. Near Kingsville in south Texas is King

Ranch, one of the largest in the world. East Texas boasts more than 11

million acres (4.5 million hectares) of woodlands, including four national


San Antonio is famous for the Alamo and San Antonio Missions National

Historical Park. Dallas hosts the state fair each October and the Cotton

Bowl football game on New Year's Day. In Arlington are Six Flags Over

Texas, an amusement park styled after the American West, and the home

stadium of the Texas Rangers professional baseball team. In professional

football, the Dallas Cowboys play in Texas Stadium, in Irving, and the

Houston Oilers play in the famous Astrodome, also home of baseball's

Houston Astros. There are three Texas basketball teams: the Dallas

Mavericks, the Houston Rockets, and the San Antonio Spurs.


The first schools in the Texas region were informal classes for Native

Americans held at the missions of Spanish priests. There were only a few

private schools in the area at the time of the Texas declaration of

independence in 1836. One of the republic's charges against Mexico was that

it had "failed to establish any public system of education."

In 1839 the Republic of Texas began setting aside public land for

education. An act establishing a state school system was passed in 1854. A

permanent school fund was established with a grant of 2 million dollars,

and provision was made for setting up school districts. In 1949 the Gilmer-

Aikin laws reorganized the public school system to equalize educational

opportunities. Common school districts were consolidated from more than

3,000 to fewer than 1,000.

The largest of the state schools is the University of Texas, located in

Austin, with branches at Arlington, Dallas, El Paso, Odessa, San Antonio,

and Tyler; health science centers at Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio;

cancer centers at Houston and Bastrop County; a health center at Tyler; and

a medical branch at Galveston. The divisions of the Texas A&M University

System are located at College Station, Prairie View, Stephenville, and


Some of the other state-supported institutions are Lamar University, at

Beaumont; Midwestern State University, at Wichita Falls; Pan American

University, at Edinburg; Texas Southern University, at Houston; the

University of Houston, also at Houston, with branches at Houston (Clear

Lake City, Downtown College branches) and Victoria; Texas Tech University,

at Lubbock; and Texas Woman's University, at Denton. Other large

institutions include Southern Methodist University, at Dallas; Texas

Christian University, at Fort Worth; Baylor University, at Waco; St. Mary's

University of San Antonio, at San Antonio; Abilene Christian University, at

Abilene; Trinity University, at San Antonio; Rice University, at Houston;

and Texas Wesleyan College, at Fort Worth.

Government and Politics

Under Mexican rule Texas was governed first from Saltillo and then from

Monclova (both in Mexico). In 1835-36 one or more governmental functions

were carried on at San Felipe de Austin, Washington on the Brazos,

Harrisburg, Galveston, Velasco, and Columbia. Houston served as the capital

in 1837-39; Austin, in 1839-42; and Washington on the Brazos, in 1842-45.

Austin has remained the state capital since 1845. Texas is governed under

its fifth constitution, which was adopted in 1876.

The chief executive officer of the state is the governor, who is elected

every four years. The legislative branch consists of the Senate and the

House of Representatives. Heading the state judiciary is the Supreme Court

and Court of Criminal Appeals.

The Democratic party dominated Texas politics from the beginning of

statehood--with only occasional exceptions--until the 1970s. Sam Houston

was elected governor as an independent in 1859, and Republicans were

elected in 1870 and 1979. Likewise, in presidential elections Texas voted

Democratic in every election after the American Civil War until 1928 and

again until the 1950s. In recent years the Republican party has been

gaining strength. A Dallas oil-drilling contractor, William Clements, was

elected governor in 1978 and reelected in 1986--the first Republican to

head the state since Reconstruction.

John N. Garner of Uvalde was the nation's first vice-president from Texas

(1933-41). Dwight D. Eisenhower, who served from 1953 to 1961, was the

first Texas-born president. Vice-President Lyndon B. Johnson of Johnson

City became the second president from Texas on Nov. 22, 1963, after the

assassination of John F. Kennedy while riding in a Dallas motorcade. The

governor of Texas, John B. Connally, who was riding in the same car as

President Kennedy, was wounded. Johnson took the oath of office as

president immediately after Kennedy' s death; he was elected president in

1964. George Bush was a resident of Texas when he was elected vice-

president in 1980 and 1984 and when he was elected president in 1988.

Sam Rayburn of Bonham holds the record for length of service as speaker of

the United States House of Representatives--17 years, beginning in 1940.

One of the first African American women to serve in Congress, and the first

from the Deep South, was Barbara Jordan of Houston, first elected in 1972.

The wife of a former governor of Texas, who had been impeached, Miriam A.

Ferguson was the second American woman (by two weeks) to serve as a

governor (1925-27 and 1933-35). More than any other state, Texas has

elected women to high political offices in several of its cities. In the

1980s women were elected to the top post in Houston, Dallas, San Antonio,

Corpus Christi, and El Paso. In 1990 another woman, Ann Richards, was

narrowly elected governor of the state.


Six national flags have flown over Texas during its colorful history. The

first was Spain's banner, from 1519 to 1685. In 1685 the French explorer La

Salle raised the French flag over a short-lived coastal colony. In 1691

Texas again came under the Spanish flag, which was replaced by the banner

of Mexico in 1821. From 1836 to 1845 the Lone Star banner flew over the

Republic of Texas. The Stars and Stripes became the official flag in 1845,

but during the American Civil War, from 1861 to 1865, it was replaced by

the Confederate flag.

The first European to visit what is now Texas was Alonso Alvarez de Pineda,

who mapped the coast in 1519. Cabeza de Vaca, a Spanish noble, was the

first to explore the area. Shipwrecked near what is now Galveston in 1528,

he was captured by the Karankawa Indians and traveled with them for eight

years before escaping. In 1541 Francisco Coronado crossed the Panhandle in

search of gold. Later, parties of Spaniards camped in the wilderness, but

they left no settlements.

The French explorer La Salle missed the mouth of the Mississippi River in

1685 and sailed into Matagorda Bay. He pushed inland and built Fort St.

Louis, which two years later was wiped out by Native Americans already

living in the area. Fear of French influence hurried the Spanish into

extending missions into eastern Texas.

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 more

hostile. 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


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


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.

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