Antebellum Texas

6353 words 26 pages
ANTEBELLUM TEXAS. In the drama of Texas history the period of early statehood, from 1846 to 1861, appears largely as an interlude between two great adventures-the Republic of Texas and the Civil War.qqv These fifteen years did indeed lack the excitement and romance of the experiment in nationhood and the "Lost Cause" of the Confederacy. Events and developments during the period, however, were critical in shaping the Lone Star State as part of the antebellum South. By 1861 Texas was so like the other Southern states economically, socially, and politically that it joined them in secessionqv and war. Antebellum Texans cast their lot with the Old South and in the process gave their state an indelibly Southern heritage.
When President Anson
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This conflict arose from the Lone Star State's determination to make the most of the Rio Grande as its western boundary by claiming an area reaching to Santa Fe and encompassing the eastern half of what is now New Mexico. In March 1848 the Texas legislature decreed the existence of Santa Fe County, and Governor George T. Woodqv sent Spruce M. Bairdqv to organize the local government and serve as its first judge. The people of Santa Fe, however, proved unwilling to accept Texas authority, and United States troops in the area supported them. In July 1849, after failing to organize the county, Baird left. At the same time a bitter controversy was developing in Congress between representatives of the North and the South concerning the expansion of slavery into the territory taken from Mexico. The Texans' western boundary claims became involved in this larger dispute, and the Lone Star State was drawn into the crisis of 1850 on the side of the South.
President Zachary Taylor, who took office in March 1849, proposed to handle the Mexican Cession by omitting the territorial stage and admitting California and New Mexico directly into the Union. His policy angered southerners in general and Texans in particular. First, both California and New Mexico were expected to prohibit slavery, a development that would give the free states numerical superiority in


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