Republic of Texas Diplomatic History
Following the victory at San Jacinto, the new Republic of Texas, led by President Sam Houston and Secretary of State Stephen F. Austin, immediately petitioned the United States for annexation. The vast majority of Texans supported this policy. President Andrew Jackson of the United States supported it also, but the majority of Congress and the American people did not. The United States knew annexation of Texas would mean war with Mexico, which had as yet refused to admit their loss of Texas. Also there was growing anti-slavery feelings in the northern states, who did not wish to see another slave state added to the United States. So the best President Jackson could do for his old friend Sam Houston was to recognize Texas Independence in 1837. The U.S. was the first country to do so.
President Houston spent the rest of his first term trying to interest European nations in recognizing Texas independence, but with no success. Also Mexico refused all efforts by Texas to make permanent peace. So when Mirabeau Lamar was elected President of Texas in 1838, he and Texas still faced a generally hostile world.
President Lamar decided to reverse Houston’s non-aggressive policies and begin his administration by withdrawing the petition for U.S. annexation. The Republic of Texas would stand alone. He sent a new envoy to Europe to push for diplomatic recognition and to secure loans if possible. France, in 1839, became the first European country to recognize Texas independence. Finally, Lamar rebuilt the Texas navy and unleashed it upon Mexican shipping in the Gulf in an effort to force Mexico to make peace with Texas. President Lamar’s policies met with some successes, eventually Holland, Belgium, and England would all recognize the Republic of Texas. But he failed to secure either a loan that could have solved Texas’ monetary problems, or peace with Mexico. When Lamar left office in 1841, the diplomatic status of Texas was improved because of European recognition, but the central problem of Mexican hostility and failure to grant official recognition remained.
Sam Houston returned in 1841 and of course began to reverse many of Lamar’s policies. Houston attempted to sell the navy and tried to ignore Mexico again, in hopes that if left alone, Mexico would finally give up hopes of re-conquering Texas. Houston still hoped eventual annexation to the U.S., but now embarked upon a new plan in order to secure it.
President Sam Houston and his new Secretary of State Anson Jones now promoted close and friendly relations with England. In 1842 England and Texas ratified treaties promoting commercial cooperation and pledging to stop the African slave trade. Texas even promised to assume one million dollars of the outstanding Mexican debt to English banks, if England would pressure Mexico for peace and independence. These closer ties with England of course, worked to promote annexation within the United States. The southern states feared the loss of slave territory and the northern states feared a loss of trade with Texas, if Texas came under the influence of England. By the end of Houston’s second term in 1844, the annexation of Texas had become a major part of the U.S. presidential election of 1844, strongly supported by the Democratic candidate James K. Polk, who would eventually win.
However in Texas, Dr. Anson Jones was elected to succeed Sam Houston as President in September of 1844, and he wished to offer the people a choice between annexation and safe, official independence. So despite the U.S. congress voting on February 28, 1845, to offer annexation to Texas, Jones at first ignored it. Through diplomatic pressure and work of the English government, first begun when Jones was Secretary of State, Mexico finally agreed to grant full independence to Texas in May of 1845. But the Mexican offer was only good on the condition of Texas promising not to join the U.S. Nonetheless, Dr. Jones ecstatically called for a Convention of Delegates to meet in July of 1845 to consider what he proudly thought was a noble choice; full independence, or annexation to the United States. Unfortunately for Anson Jones, the vast majority of the people of Texas overwhelmingly supported annexation, as was demonstrated in the votes of the Annexation Convention of July 4, 1845, and a later vote of all the people on October 3, 1845. In fact a large number of people even unfairly accused Anson Jones of trying to defeat annexation by waiting until after he had won recognition from Mexico to consider it. Thus Anson Jones unwittingly ruined himself politically by working so hard to offer Texas a choice.
So despite Anson Jones’ best efforts, or perhaps because of them, the Republic of Texas came to an end. On February 19, 1846, President Jones turned over the governmental powers of Texas to its newly elected Governor, James Pickney Henderson. He closed the official transfer of power with these memorable words: “The final act in this great drama is now performed; the Republic of Texas is no more.”
Texas now became the 28th state of the United States, still the only independent country to voluntarily join the United States.
Answer the following questions that follow:
1. Who were the first two Texas leaders that pushed for the U.S. annexation of Texas?
2. What were the 2 reasons that many Americans first opposed annexation of Texas?
3. Who was the first country to recognize Texas independence and when?
4. Who became President of Texas in 1838 and how did he begin his administration?
5. How did Lamar hope to “encourage” Mexican recognition?
6. What 4 European countries finally agreed to recognize Texas?
7. Who became President of Texas in 1841, and how did he change Texas foreign policy?
8. What 2 policy changes between England and Texas did Houston promote?
9. Which candidate in the 1844 U.S. Presidential election favored the annexation of Texas?
10. Who was elected President of Texas in 1844?
11. What did Mexico finally agree to in May of 1845 and under what conditions?
12. How did most Texans vote in October of 1845, and why did this hurt Anson Jones politically?