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ARCHIVES  June 2006, Week 3

ARCHIVES June 2006, Week 3

Subject:

FW: Web exhibit: Hard Road to Texas: Texas Annexation 1836-1845

From:

Laura Saegert <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Laura Saegert <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Mon, 19 Jun 2006 13:39:08 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (44 lines)

The Texas State Library and Archives Commission now has a new web exhibit called "Hard Road to Texas: Texas Annexation 1836-1845." This exhibit includes numerous 
> documents and images from the Texas State Archives, and tells the story of the long and bruising process by which Texas became a state. The exhibit can be found at: 
> 
> http://www.tsl.state.tx.us/exhibits/annexation/index.html
> 
> Here is some additional information about the exhibit. Please feel free to forward this message to anyone who might be interested. 
> 
> ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
> 
> A new online exhibit from the Texas State Library and Archives, titled, "Hard Road to Texas: Texas Annexation 1836-1845," is bringing some new insight into the long and bruising process by which Texas joined the United States. The exhibit is featured on the TSLAC website at http://www.tsl.state.tx.us/exhibits/annexation/.
> 
> With the help of 56 documents, photographs, and maps, the exhibit documents the nine-year period in which Texas existed as an independent republic, and the ups and downs of its stormy courtship with the United States. 
> 
> It's a "behind the scenes look at an event that was the crucial moment in Texas history, and one of the monumental moments in the expansion of the United States," says Liz Clare, the digital imaging specialist at TSLAC who coordinated the new exhibit.   
> 
> Much of the story is told through a decade of Republic of Texas diplomatic correspondence. Texas envoys write home to President Houston and Secretary of State Anson Jones of the delicate negotiations, which were blocked for years by abolitionist Senators deadset against the expansion of slavery. 
> 
> Blocked from joining the Union, Texas developed its own unique national pride and culture that persists even today. But even while coming to prize independence, Texas found itself weak and bankrupt, newly menaced by a Mexico that never recognized her right to exist. With historical repercussions that can only be guessed at today, the country> '> s leaders seriously considered taking Texas into the British Empire. The correspondence reveals fascinating details of this intriguing "what might have been." 
> Other documents reveal more about the Mexican point of view during the period. As one of Sam Houston's correspondents reported, Mexicans believed that "they have been witness of the management and intrigues with which the United States have tenaciously endeavored to acquire a part of the Territory of Mexico with the same punic faith with which they obtained the Floridas. ... What will be the alternative preferred by  the people of the U.S. War! immediate War!!" 
> "You can see the roots of political and historical debates that are still in contention today," says Chris LaPlante, director of Archives and Information Services for TSLAC.  
> The online exhibit begins with an overview of Texas's Spanish roots and the factors that led Spain and Mexico to invite thousands of Anglo-American colonists to populate the rugged land. A map drawn by American explorer Zebulon Pike in 1810 shows Texas as part of the internal provinces of New Spain. But by the time of the Texas Revolution in 1836, most Texans and Americans assumed that the Republic of Texas government would be a short-lived fig leaf that enabled the swift annexation of Texas by the United States. Tied together by blood and business, closer to busy New Orleans than weak and disorganized Mexico, it seemed only natural that Texas would become the latest territorial expansion to a United States that had already bounded from the East Coast to the Rocky Mountains in less than the span of one human lifetime. 
> Instead, Texas was rejected in its bid for annexation when it became clear to President Andrew Jackson that the United States Senate--and the country as a whole--would split apart along sectional lines if the Texas issue came to a head. For years to come, Texas would go its own way. Much of the unique Texas pride can be traced to this Republic of Texas era, when Texans stood alone, fa> cing big risks, big hardships, and big dreams. 
> Dreamers like President Mirabeau Lamar involved Texas in adventures to try to make Texas a continental power to rival, rather than join, the United States. These Texans believed that Mexico was so weakened by constant revolution and upheaval that Texas could pick off the best parts, including the Santa Fe trade and the seaports and mineral wealth of California. Instead, their adventures left Texas on the edge of total disintegration and subject to bloody border raids by Mexico, which seemed poised to invade and retake the country they had lost at San Jacinto. In response, hard-headed politicians like Sam Houston turned again to the United States, only to be rejected even more vehemently than before by the opposition of Northern politicans like John Quincy Adams, who called Texas the > "> misbegotten and illegitimate progeny> ">  of the slaveholding South. By the end of 1842, Houston concluded that an alliance with Britain was the best bet to save Texas. 
> "People don't know that Sam Houston and Great Britain were serious about exploring the idea of Texas coming under the protection of Great Britain," Clare says. "Britain wanted a source of cotton that would enable them to cut ties with the American South, which was unpopular in Britain because of slavery. And Houston wanted to preserve Texas independence at all costs. He was even willing to explore the subject of abolition with the British. But he had to keep these talks as secret as possible from the Texas Congress and the people, who wanted to fight Mexico and join the United States. Later, when annexation finally occurred, Houston was able to claim he'd planned it all along." 
> The Texas flirtation with Britain got the attention of leaders in the United States in a big way. "President John Tyler and his secretary of state were both dyed-in-the-wool Southerners," Clare points out. "Along with other southern politicians, they recognized that a British-dominated Texas would doom the way of life they cherished. At the same time, northern politicians knew that Texas annexation would greatly strengthen the South and slavery. The stage was set for a battle royal in Washington, one that had very little to do with the hopes and needs of ordinary Texans, but everything to do with the sectional split in the country."
> Letters, speeches, and political cartoons are included in the exhibit, hinting at the passions that dominated American politics for months to come. The "Texas question" would wreck the careers of some of America's most famous political leaders and make new stars out of others unknown before the debate started. The sometimes wide-eyed correspondence of Texas diplomats reveals just how little control Texas had over the discussion of its future. Included in the exhibit, too, is the declaration of war issued by the Mexican government when it thought annexation negotiations had failed, and their diplomatic protests when the measure ultimately succeeded. 
> "The annexation of Texas was a diplomatic success story for Texas and ensured Texas's survival, but it unleashed unexpected historical forces," LaPlante notes. "The Mexican War was a direct result of annexation, with the huge territorial expansion that resulted. The second enormous consequence of annexation was that it was really the Trojan Horse that broke apart the many compromises that had held North and South together. Texas annexation was one of the most significant steps along America's path to the Civil War." 
> 
> 
> 
> 

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