In order to encourage immigration, the state government made the public lands available at very cheap prices. Families disembark their wagons for a welcome rest at Fort Concho. As one observer has noted, army forts served "as the oasis in the desert" for many a weary traveler. Courtesy Fort Concho NHL
Texas perpetuated the land policy of the republic and thereby continued to attract immigrants. In 1854, the legislature passed the Texas Preemption Act, through which the state offered homesteaders 160-acre parcels of land for as little as fifty cents an acre (as compared to the concurrent U.S. price of $1.25 an acre.) (See p. 117.)
The first federal census taken in Texas, 1850, revealed that 212,000 persons (including slaves) inhabited the state. By the eve of the Civil War, the Texas population had tripled to over 604,000. (See pp. 116-117.)
Origins of the Texas Population, 1850 (See Table 5.1 on page 118.)
The production of cotton increased from about 58,000 bales in 1849 to 431,463 bales in 1859. While sugar and wool increasingly became cash commodities raised in Texas, cotton remained the state’s staple. Cotton, sugar, and wool constituted the main exports. (See pp. 117, 119.)
Between 1848 and the eve of the Civil War, lands worked by slaves produced lucrative returns for planters, the profits auguring cotton’s and the slave system’s westward expansion.
Only about one-third of all Texas farms at mid-century had slaves as part of their workforce. Texans constituting a planter elite (landholders who owned more than 100 slaves) amounted to only a small minority. In reality, the 20 percent of planters heading the list of slaveowners monopolized 96 percent of the entire Texas population. Most Texas slave owners held fewer than five bondspeople. (See pp. 117-118.)
This document permits the transportation of four slaves from the port of New Orleans to the port of Galveston, Republic of Texas.
The reverse side, listing the slaves, is signed by Ashbel Smith, a medical doctor who had been Surgeon General of the Republic of Texas and was later a founder of the U.T. Medical School.
Many Native Americans welcomed African Americans into their villages. Even as slaves many African Americans became part of a family group, and many intermarried with Native Americans - thus many later became classified as Black Indians. Therefore Black Oklahoma evolved in many areas as biracial communities within Indian nations. This is a unique history, which developed in many of the western communities where the two groups came together.
Juan Cortina and his supporters occupy Brownsville and proclaim the Republic of the Rio Grande. Cortina sought the restoration of all former Mexican land between the Nueces and Rio Grande. Cortina initially defeats a force of Texas Rangers and local authorities, but when they are reinforced by army troops, he retreats into Mexico where he wages a guerilla war for another ten years.
The state government’s official policy toward Indians in the mid-1850s was to put the Indians on reservations.
Hovering goddess-like above the westward moving pioneers, this allegorical female came to symbolize the virtue of taming the western frontier, what some considered America's "manifest destiny." Painting entitled, "American Progress," by George Crogutt, 1873. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress.
“Narratives portrayed the conflict as one in which while families defended themselves from marauding Indians instead of one in which Anglos moved and occupied Indian land. (Carrigan, p. 74.) The Indian Fighter (1955) starring Kirk Douglas.
John S. "Rip" Ford. As a captain of Texas rangers, Ford played a critical role in protecting the Texas frontier.
Cotton wagons on their way from the gin to the cotton yard in Elgin.Photo courtesy of Leo Foehner, Institute of Texan Cultures, University of Texas at San Antonio.
Early travelers on a packed stage pause for refreshment during their journey on the south Texas frontier. Image courtesy Kinney County Historical Society.
Before the Civil War the government of Texas maintained the university endowment, but it took little action to establish a university campus until much later. (See p. 131)
The largest religious denominations in Texas before the Civil War were Methodists and Baptists. Church leaders prior to the beginning of the Civil War tended to defend slavery. See page 132.
Debating the Compromise of 1850 Senator Henry Clay of Kentucky proposed the Compromise Measures of 1850, a set of five bills favoring compromise among the states on the issue of slavery. President Millard Fillmore signed all five measures into law.
The compromise of 1850 (proposed by Henry Clay): the slave trade should be ended in the nation’s capital; a strong fugitive slave law should be passed; the territories acquired from Mexico should be organized without prohibiting the importation of slaves into those regions; and California should be admitted into the Union as a free state. For Texas, the most important economic consequences of the Compromise of 1850 was the payment of the state’s public debt in return for Texas’s surrender of its claims to New Mexico. (See pp. 133-134.)
Texas Politics in the 1850s Politically, the majority of Texans before the Civil War considered themselves Democrats. The Whigs briefly existed in Texas, attracting professionals, merchants, and prosperous planters. In the mid-1850s, the Know-Nothing party attracted many Texans with its criticism of immigrants and Catholics. See pages 134-135.
Sam Houston Hardin R. Runnels Hardin R. Runnels defeated Sam Houston for the governorship in 1857 on a platform supporting the reopening of the African slave trade. Runnels resided in Old Boston and was buried in a family cemetery in Bowie County in 1873. In the election of 1859, Houston put Runnels on the defensive by criticizing the latter’s inadequate protection of the frontier, highlighting Runnels’ wishes to see the slave trade renewed, and reminding voters of the governor’s preference for secession. Sam Houston’s victory in the 1859 gubernatorial race was hailed as a tribute to Unionism. Unfortunately, it was Houston’s last political position.
Sam Houston was elected governor in 1859. It was his last political position
John Bell Candidate of the Unionist Party (A coalition of Unionist Democrats, ex-Know-Nothings and former Whigs John C. Breckinridge Candidate of the Southern Democrats Stephen A. Douglas Candidate of the Northern Democrats Disintegration of the Democratic Party. Texas Democrats faced an excruciating decision over which Democrat to support. By the summer of 1860, however, most Texans began to swing over to Breckinridge, who most closely mirrored the sentiments of pro-slavery Texans and seemed most likely to win. (See p. 137) Abraham Lincoln
In its declaration of secession, Texas stated that it intended to go to war to preserve a southern way of life that made racial distinctions, in part, by maintaining blacks in a condition of servitude. (See. p. 138)
The two highest-ranking Texans in the Confederate army were Albert Sidney Johnston and John Bell Hood.
Texas-Mexico Trade Routes Texas was economically important to the Confederacy because the Confederacy was able to conduct foreign trade through Mexico by way of Texas. (See p. 142.)
Cotton bales on Matamoros wharf arrived across the Rio Grande from Brownsville, Texas (background)
"There is no parallel in ancient or modern warfare to the victory of Dowling and his men at Sabine Pass considering the great odds against which they had to contend" Jefferson Davis The Battle of Sabine Pass September 8, 1663 In the fall of 1863, Confederate forces under the command of Lt. Richard Dowling turned back a much larger Union invasion force at the battle of Sabine Pass. (See pp. 140-141.)
In Gainesville (Cooke County), North Texas Confederates—responding to reports of a plot by members of the Peace Party to take over local ordnance depots and to revolt at the same time that Unionists forces invaded Texas from Kansas and Galveston—executed some forty-two alleged conspirators (most of the innocent) in October 1862 and proclaimed martial law in the county. (See p. 145)
Some 24,000 Texans perished during the four years of fighting. The war left a legacy of deep personal hatreds. Many sought to continue to fight the Northern Army of Occupation through terrorist organizations such as the Ku Klux Klan.