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The Nation Expands

Texas Annexation, 1845

The Spanish were the first to colonize the states that today make up the American southwest, including the state of Texas. In the waning years of the Spanish empire, in the early 19th century, Spain decided to allow some Americans to settle in Texas. In 1821 Moses Austin obtained permission to lead a group of 300 American families in creating a new settlement there. After his death, his son Stephen Austin took over the plan and secured permission — this time from the newly independent Mexican government — to proceed with the settlement. By 1835, approximately 20,000 American, Mexican, and European settlers had arrived in Texas, bringing with them an additional 4,000 slaves. The Mexican government attempted to limit the influx of American immigrants, to no avail.

In 1835, fighting broke out between the Mexican Army and Anglo-American colonists who were angry with the Mexican government for attempting to limit the practice of slavery and for violating the Mexican constitution. In 1836, they declared Texas an independent state, called the Republic of Texas. After a decisive Texan victory at the Battle of San Jacinto later that year, fighting stopped. The Mexican government, however, never recognized the new state, and for the next decade, the Lone Star Republic had a shaky existence. It was under constant threat of invasion from Mexico, and the government did not have enough money in its treasury to work effectively.

In 1845, the Republic of Texas voluntarily asked to become a part of the United States, and the government of the United States agreed to annex the nation. Mexican leaders had long warned the United States that if it tried to make Texas a state, it would declare war. And, almost immediately after Texas joined the union, the United States and Mexico went to war about where the proper border for the state of Texas should be. The Republic of Texas included the present-day state of Texas as well as portions of New Mexico, Kansas, Colorado, and Wyoming.

Map of land acquired by the Texas Annexation
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