Cyclopædia of Political Science, Political Economy, and the Political History of the United States

Edited by: Lalor, John J.
(?-1899)
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First Pub. Date
1881
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New York: Maynard, Merrill, and Co.
Pub. Date
1899
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Includes articles by Frédéric Bastiat, Gustave de Molinari, Henry George, J. B. Say, Francis A. Walker, and more.
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TEXAS

III.256.1

TEXAS, a state of the American Union, and the only one which was, before its admission, an independent state, with powers to make war, peace and treaties, send and receive ambassadors, etc. It was at first a part of New Spain, or Mexico, the American claim upon it having been abandoned by the Florida treaty with Spain in 1819 (see ANNEXATIONS, II.); and it participated in the successful revolt against Spanish authority. Jan. 31, 1824, Mexico framed a federal constitution, which went into force Oct. 4. Its fundamental idea was like that of the United States, except that it established the Roman Catholic as the state church, and forbade the use of any other form of worship. March 11, 1827, the "state of Coahuila and Texas" framed a state constitution, patterned after that of the nation in every respect, except its 13th article, as follows. "In this state no person shall be born a slave after this constitution is published in the capital of each district, and six months thereafter, neither will the introduction of slaves be permitted under any pretext."

III.256.2

—American adventurers had already begun to enter the more thinly populated district of Texas, pretending to be good Catholics, and paying little attention to the abolition of slavery. April 1-13, 1833, in convention at San Felipe, they formed a new state constitution, more closely American in design, introducing trial by jury, universal suffrage, and the right of petition; but it was never recognized by the central government. When Santa Anna's new Mexican government, Jan. 31, 1835, undertook to abolish the state governments and transform them into departments, as in France, Texas rebelled. A convention at Austin, Oct. 17 - Nov. 13, 1835, framed a provisional government, and adjourned to Washington, March 1, 1836. On the next day after reassembling, it made a declaration of independence, on the ground that Santa Anna had overthrown the Mexican government and established a military despotism, and that the compact between Texas and Mexico had thus been broken. (See SECESSION, II.) Before its final adjournment, March 17, it had framed a constitution for the republic of Texas. The house of representatives was to be chosen annually, and the senate for three years; and the president was to be chosen by popular vote for three years, but was not immediately re-eligible. "All persons of color, who were slaves for life previous to their emigration to Texas, and who are now held in bondage, shall remain in the like state of servitude." Congress could pass no laws to free slaves, or prevent immigrants from bringing them into the republic. Free negroes were not to be allowed to become or remain inhabitants; and slaveholders could not free slaves, unless with the consent of congress, and on condition of sending the freedmen out of the republic. Under this constitution Texas maintained her independence, which was recognized by the various commercial nations. The story of her annexation to the United States is elsewhere told. (See ANNEXATIONS, III.)

III.256.3

—BOUNDARIES. The eastern and northern boundary of Texas was fixed by the Florida treaty of 1819 with Spain. (The line will be found under ANNEXATIONS, II.) This line was confirmed by treaty of Jan. 12, 1828, with Mexico, and April 25, 1838, with Texas. The southeastern, boundary was natural, the gulf of Mexico. The northwestern and western boundary was a matter of far more difficulty. Volumes have been written to prove that Texas, under the French Louisiana claim, to which the United States succeeded in 1803, and which the United States abandoned in 1819, extended westward to the Rio Grande; and that its reannexation, in 1845, should cover the same territory. All this argument seems needless. After the establishment of the republic of Mexico, the western boundary of Texas was entirely a matter of internal decision in Mexico. The "state of Coahuila and Texas" extended to the Rio Grande; but the national existence of Texas was as much a secession from Coahuila as from Mexico, and the western boundary of the republic of Texas never extended beyond the Nueces river. It is true that the Texan congress, Dec. 19, 1836, defined the western boundary of the republic as the Rio Grande to its head, and thence due north to latitude 42°, about the latitude of Boston. But such a paper declaration, whether it extended to the Nueces, the Rio Grande or the isthmus of Panama, was evidently of no force unless successfully supported by arms. It was so supported, and the authority of Texas was extended up to the Nueces, but never beyond; and the effort to carry Texas jurisdiction beyond, the Mier expedition, was a pronounced failure. Nevertheless, President Polk, in 1846, assumed authority to order the American forces into the disputed territory, and thus brought on the Mexican war. (See WARS, V.) At the end of the war the federal government was in a most embarrassing position. To acknowledge the full claims of Texas would have been to add to her enormous territory the present territory of Arizona, and a large part of Kansas and Colorado; to deny them would have been a confession that the whole nominal cause of the war was fraudulent. Feb. 11, 1850. Texas formally reaffirmed her boundary of 1836. Sept. 9 (see COMPROMISES, V.), congress proposed the following northern and western boundary for Texas, latitude 36° 30' from longitude 100° west to longitude 103° west; thence due south to latitude 32°; thence due west to the Rio Grande, and down that river to the gulf of Mexico. Texas was to cede all claims outside of the boundary to the United States, and the United States to pay to Texas $10,000,000 in 5 per cent. bonds, to run fourteen years. Texas accepted the proposition, Nov. 25, and the boundary was settled.

III.256.4

—The joint resolution of March 1, 1845, consenting to the annexation of Texas, stipulated that "new states, of convenient size, not exceeding four in number, in addition to the said state of Texas, and having sufficient population, may hereafter, by the consent of said state, be formed out of the territory thereof." Such consent was given by the convention of 1866, but was not made use of by congress at the time. It is now practically impossible to obtain any such consent from the state; and its size must remain undiminished until the development of separate interests within it shall produce a division naturally.

III.256.5

—CONSTITUTIONS. The first constitution of the state was framed by the convention at Austin, July 4 - Aug. 27, 1845, which on its first day accepted the proposition of annexation made by the United States. The senate was to be chosen for four years, by districts; and the representatives, chosen for two years, were apportioned to the counties according to population. The governor was to be chosen by popular vote, to serve two years, but not to be eligible more than two terms in succession. The capital was to be Austin until 1850, and was then to be fixed by popular vote. Judges of the supreme court were to be appointed for six years, removable on address of two-thirds of each house. The slavery provisions of 1835 were retained; but trial by jury was reserved to slaves accused of crimes of a higher grade than petit larceny. The constitution was ratified by popular vote Oct. 13, and the state was admitted by joint resolution of Dec. 29, 1845. The first legislature met Feb. 16, 1846, and the governor was inaugurated three days after. Popular vote in 1850 fixed the capital at Austin, where it has since remained.

III.256.6

—A convention at Austin, Feb. 10 - April 2, 1866, amended the constitution by substituting for the slavery provisions an abolition of slavery. "African slavery, as it heretofore existed, having been terminated within this state by the government of the United States by force of arms, and its re-establishment being prohibited by the amendment to the constitution of the United States." By ordinances the rebel war debt was repudiated, and the legislature was forbidden to assume or pay any part of it; the ordinance of secession was declared null and void, and "the right of secession, heretofore claimed by the state of Texas, distinctly renounced"; and consent was given to the division of the state. The action of the convention was ratified by a light popular vote, June 25.

III.256.7

—A reconstruction convention at Austin, June 1 - Aug. 31, Dec. 7, 1868 - Feb. 6, 1869, framed a state constitution, which was ratified by popular vote Nov. 30 - Dec. 3, 1869. Its first section declared its purpose to be "that the heresies of nullification and secession, which have brought the country to grief, may be eliminated from future political discussion"; and to this end it declared the constitution of the United States, and laws and treaties made and to be made in pursuance thereof, to be the supreme law. It abolished slavery and forbade the importation of coolies; gave the right of suffrage to males over twenty-one, on one year's residence; made the number of representatives ninety, and of senators thirty, both to be chosen by districts; extended the term of the governor to four years, of supreme court judges to nine years, and of district judges to eight years. Persons disqualified to hold office by the 14th amendment were disfranchised. The ordinance of secession and the rebel war debt were declared null and void from the beginning. The state was readmitted to representation by act of March 30, 1870, on the fundamental condition that the constitution should never be so amended as to deprive any class of citizens of the right of suffrage, of the right to hold office, or of school rights, as there secured.

III.256.8

—The present constitution was framed by a convention at Austin, Sept. 6 - Nov. 24, 1875, and ratified by popular vote, Feb. 17, 1876. Its principal changes were the substitution for the first section of a declaration that "Texas is a free and independent state, subject only to the constitution of the United States"; the change of numbers to ninety-three in the house and thirty-one in the senate; the reduction of the governor's term to two years; and the provision of separate schools for white and colored children, but with impartial privileges to both.

III.256.9

—GOVERNORS. J. P. Henderson, 1846-7; Geo. T. Wood, 1847-9, P. H. Bell, 1849-53; Edward M. Pease, 1853-7; H. G. Runnels, 1857-9; Sam Houston, 1859-61; Francis B. Lubbock, 1861-3 Pendleton Murray, 1863-5; A. J. Hamilton, military governor, 1865-6; J. W. Throckmorton, 1866-7; Edward M. Pease, 1867-70; Edmund J. Davis, 1870-74; Richard Coke, 1874-6; Richard Hubbard, 1876-9; Oram M. Roberts, 1879-83.

III.256.10

—POLITICAL HISTORY. Until the close of the rebellion, there was never any real opposition to the democratic party in the state. All the governors, congressmen, United States senators and state officers were democrats. In 1856 the popular vote for the Fillmore electors reached 33 per cent. of the whole; with this exception the democratic popular vote in presidential elections was always during this period over 70 per cent of the whole. Even in local politics the extent of the state's territory was an insurmountable obstacle to the rise of any real political interest. Even in 1861 there was very little political contest. The opposition to the dominant secession party was merely a variety of secession feeling. It was represented by the governor, Houston, and desired mainly the return of Texas to the position of an independent republic, and fresh acquisition of territory on the side of Mexico. With this design the governor for some time refused to summon a special session of the legislature for the purpose of calling a convention. The confederate states party then issued a private call for a convention, to meet Jan. 28, 1861; the governor yielded, and summoned the legislature for Jan. 21; and that body legitimatized the convention, stipulating that any ordinance of secession should be submitted to popular vote. The ordinance of secession was passed, Feb. 1, by a vote of 166 to 7, ratified by a popular vote of 34,794 to 11,235, Feb. 23, and went into effect March 2. The convention, March 20, declared the seat of Gov. Houston vacant. March 23, the constitution of the confederate states was ratified.

III.256.11

—Until 1863 there was a steady influx of slaves from other southern states; after July 4, 1863, Texas and Louisiana were isolated from the rest of the confederacy by the opening of the Mississippi. The close of the rebellion found Texas with an increased black and a decreased white population. June 17, 1865, A. J. Hamilton was appointed military governor, and under his control the convention of 1866 was held and the revised constitution adopted. The "conservative," or democratic, party nominated Gov. Throckmorton, who was elected by 48,631 votes to 12,051 for E. M. Pease, republican. The new legislature, almost entirely democratic, refused to ratify the 14th amendment, and requested the withdrawal of federal troops from the state. In 1867 the reconstruction acts took effect. March 19, Maj. Gen. P. H. Sheridan took command of the department. He almost immediately became dissatisfied with the state government, and removed Gov. Throckmorton July 30, and most of the other state officers Aug. 29, replacing them by republicans. Aug. 29, Sheridan was superseded by Gen. Hancock, who soon came into collision with the new governor, Pease. The latter distrusted the state courts, and wished to have criminals tried by military commission, which Hancock declined to allow. July 28, 1868, Gen. J. J. Reynolds took command of the state.

III.256.12

—The provisions of the reconstruction acts for registration and voting had reduced the democratic party to a nullity. In the dominant party there were two factions. The radical republicans, headed by E. J. Davis, wished to maintain the disfranchisement of ex-rebels, and to divide the state. The conservative republicans, headed by the former military governor, Hamilton, opposed both of the leading features of the radical programme. The latter naturally received all the support which the democrats could give them. The convention of 1868-9 was stormy throughout, and at its final adjournment Davis and Hamilton became the opposing candidates for governor. Davis was elected, and the radicals also obtained a plurality in the legislature over both the conservatives and the democrats.

III.256.13

—The new legislature authorized the governor, under specified conditions, to declare martial law, and organized a state police force. In 1870, during the sitting of the legislature, martial law was accordingly declared in three counties, and on one of them a penalty of $50,000 was imposed and collected. The legislature protested against this action; the democrats and conservatives united to oppose it; and in the autumn elections they secured three of the state's four congressmen. In 1873 the republican party of the state was finally overthrown. For governor, Richard Coke had 85,549 votes, and Davis 42,663, and the democratic majorities for other officers were equally heavy. Jan. 5, 1874, the state supreme court declared the law unconstitutional under which the election had been conducted. Gov. Davis therefore refused to give up his office, and appealed to President Grant for federal troops to support him. They were refused, for the reason that the governor had signed the election law, had run for office under it, and should now submit to the result of the election. He then desisted from opposition. Since that time the state has been overwhelmingly democratic in all elections. In 1880 the vote for governor was 166,303 for Roberts, democrat: 64,372 for Davis, republican; and 33,670 for Hamman, greenbacker. In 1882 there were twenty-nine democrats and two republicans in the state senate, and sixty-eight democrats, seven republicans, six independents, and two greenbackers in the house. One of the state's six congressmen, 1879-83, is a democratic greenbacker.

III.256.14

—Among the political leaders of the state have been the following, all democrats unless otherwise specified: Richard Coke, governor 1873-7, United States senator 1877-83; David B. Culberson, congressman 1875-83; Andrew J. Hamilton, congressman 1859-61, military governor in 1862, provisional governor 1865-6; Morgan C. Hamilton (elder brother of the preceding), radical republican United States senator 1870-77; John Hancock, district judge 1851-5, congressman 1872-7; Sam Houston (see his name); David S. Kaufmann, representative and senator 1839-45, congressman 1846-51; S. B. Maxey, confederate major general, and United States senator 1875-87; Roger Q. Mills, congressman 1873-83; John H. Reagan, congressman 1857-61, confederate postmaster general 1861-5, congressman 1875-83; Thos. J. Rusk, secretary of war of the republic 1836-8, chief justice 1838-42, and United States senator 1846-56; Gustave Schleicher, congressman 1875-9; James W. Throckmorton, one of the seven voters against secession in 1861, governor 1866-7, congressman 1875-9; Lewis T. Wigfall, United States senator 1860-61, confederate states senator 1862-5.

III.256.15

—See authorities under ANNEXATIONS, III. COMPROMISES, V.: 2 Poore's Federal and State Constitutions; 2 Hough's American Constitutions; Kennedy's Rise and Progress of Texas (1844), H. S. Foote's Texas and the Texans (1841); Rankin's Texas in 1850; Olmsted's Journey through Texas (1857); De Cordova's Resources and Public Men of Texas (1858), 16 Democratic Review, 282 (the presidents of Texas); Lester's Sam Houston and his Republic, and review of it in 5 Whig Review, 566; Yoakum's History of Texas (to 1846); Gouge's Fiscal History of Texas (1852); Jones' Official Correspondence relating to the Republic of Texas (1859); Green's Expedition against Mier; Kendall's Texan Santa Fé Expedition (1850); Smith's Reminiscences of the Texas Republic (1876); Texas Almanac, 1873-5.

ALEXANDER JOHNSTON.

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