Wednesday, July 20, 2011

175 Years of Texas History

Howdy LIFEers! Weeeeellll, I reckon this musta been one of THE most interestin' and thought provokin' LIFE classes we ever done had. Lotsa facts and history flyin' around the room, and folks just a scratchin' their heads tryin' to remember back to their grade school histry class. Yessir, it was a fascinatin' class: so fascinatin' that we ran over time and folks just stayed to keep learnin' more. But of course we all stayed, this class was about a subject near 'n dear to our hearts: Texas history.

Professor Thomas Kelly (a yankee, but we won't hold that against him) joined us to teach us all about the facts (and dispel some fictions) about the Lone Star State. Some interesting highlights:

  • The original Tejas (state of Mexico) encompassed the south-east portion of the current state. The Republic was much bigger in part because after the battle of San Jacinto, Santa Ana withdrew his troops to the south side of the Rio Grande. In the treaty of Velasco, Santa Anna agreed to withdraw his troops from Texas (Tejas he thought). But since he withdrew to the Rio Grande, the Rio Grande became the new boundary of Texas.

  • Texas was a Republic for 9 years, but it applied for US statehood each year of those 9 years, so one could argue it was a republic by default. The US rejected Texas' application for several reasons; possible war with Mexico, possible war with the Indians, and concerns about the massive debt Texas would enter the union with due to its recent war with Mexico.

  • True or false: Texas is the only state with the right to fly the state flag at the same height or above the national flag. False. There were no rules about flag flying at the time of the Republic, and the Lone Star flag wasn't made the official state flag until 1933. The official US flag code allows any state flag to fly at the same height as the national flag, provided the national flag is on the left side, from the viewer's perspective. The Texas flag code also states that when on a single flag pole, the national flag must be on top.

  • True or False: Texas has a treaty with the US that allows it to split into 5 states someday. Trick question. Texas has no treaty with the US. It was annexed by an act of Congress in 1845 (and we went to war with Mexico in 1846). The annexation allowed Texas to someday be broken up into 5 smaller states, mostly because of slavery. Other states (namely California) entering the union at the time were entering as free states, and southerners wanted to maintain the balance of slave states to non-slave states, so they reserved the right to create more (slave) states out of Texas, although most Texans were not slave owners. This was all settled with the Compromise of 1850 (where Texas got its current shape), and the entire topic was rendered moot by Article 4, Section 3 of the Constitution.

  • Does Texas have any special laws? Yes! Texas is the only state that was granted the right to own its public lands. This is huge and for some reason few people know about this. More than 225 million acres of land were public at the time of annexation, which didn't do much for the state at first until the discovery of..oil! Massive profits from the oil sales went into Texas educational funds, which are still being used today.

Please read Professor Kelly's slide show below, and check out the links to the Texas state web pages for more information on (or verification of) today's history lesson.

Ya'll come back now, ya' hear!

You can learn more Texas history at the state’s official website:
Narrative History of Annexation of Texas:
The actual annexation document:

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