When Texas Was Its Own Country
1839: The flag of the Republic of Texas, the 'Lone Star' state was admitted to the Union in 1845. Source: (Photo by MPI/Getty Images)
Today, it seems strange to think that Texas could still be its own country. Imagine needing a passport to visit Houston or having to exchange your money to buy something in Austin? If Texas were an independent country, neither Dwight Eisenhower or Lyndon Johnson, the two U.S. presidents who were born in Texas, would have been able to become president. Texas’s independence was brief (only about ten years). So here's the story of when, before there were 50 states, quizzically, Texas was its very much own country, if only briefly.
Texas Won Independence From Mexico
Texas and the surrounding area, known as the Mexican Texas, declared its independence from Mexico in 1836 in an event known as the Texas Revolution. During Texas’s war for independence, several notable battles were fought. The Battle of the Alamo was perhaps the most famous. On April 21, 1836, the war ended and Texas became a sovereign nation, though Mexico refused to acknowledge it. The new country was named the Republic of Texas and the citizens called themselves Texians, not Texans.
The United States Recognized the Republic of Texas
Even though Mexico refused to recognize the Republic of Texas, the United States did. Texas designed its one flag and established its own laws. The Republic of Texas was much larger than today’s state of Texas and included parts of Oklahoma, Louisiana, Colorado, New Mexico, Arkansas, and Kansas. Ongoing skirmishes with Mexico were fought over territories that are now south of the border.
Sam Houston was Named President of Texas
Sam Houston was not technically the first president of the Republic of Texas, but he is the man that is most closely linked to it. David G. Burnet served as the new country’s president for a few short months in 1836, only to be replaced by Houston. Houston held the office from 1836 to 1838 and again from 1841 to 1844. Between his two terms, Mirabeau Lamar helped the post.
Native Americans were Upset with the Establishment of the Republic of Texas
Much of the new Republic of Texas overlapped with the Comanche Indian nation and the Comanche weren’t too happy to fall under the rule of the new country. The conflict between the Texians and the Comanches led to incidents of violence. Both Native Americans and settlers attacked and raided each other. Settlements were burned, men were killed, and women on both sides of the conflict were raped and tortured while prisoners. During Sam Houston’s first term as president of Texas, he negotiated a peace treaty with the Comanche, but his efforts were undone with the next president, Mirabeau Lamar took office and negated the peace treaty with the Native Americas. An attempt at peace negotiations in 1840 ended with the murders of 34 Comanche chiefs in San Antonio.
For Fugitive Americans, the Republic of Texas was a Perfect Hide-Out
The Republic of Texas was large and mostly unsettled. This made it a perfect hiding spot for fugitives from the United States and Mexico who were fleeing the law in their counties. The Texan frontier was the very epitome of the Wild West, with lawless bandits and gunfights and vigilante justice. The Texians were strong, independent, and hardy because they were forced to be in order to survive in the rugged, violence frontier.
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