Texas, one of the West South Central states of the United States. It borders Mexico on the southwest and the Gulf of Mexico on the southeast. To the west is New Mexico, to the north and northeast lie Oklahoma and Arkansas, and Louisiana bounds Texas on the east. Austin is the capital of Texas. Houston is the largest city.
Texas is the size of Ohio, Indiana, and all the New England and Middle Atlantic states combined, and its vast area encompasses forests, mountains, deserts and dry plains, and a long, humid, subtropical coastal lowland. Texas’s wealth of mineral resources is almost unequaled among the other states. The rapid economic development stimulated by these resources and the state’s vast size have made Texas an American legend. Oil wells, chemicals, ranches, and cattle have played a major part in that legend.
For more than 100 years, Texas was part of the Spanish Empire in America. When Mexico gained its independence from Spain in 1821, Texas was for a while joined to Mexico. The section from San Antonio southward retains the flavor of the Hispano-Mexican period in its architecture, foods, and festivals.
The name Texas is derived from tejas or teyas, the rendering by the Spanish in the mid-16th century of the Caddo people’s word for friends or allies. It gradually became used to denote the region north of the Río Grande and east of New Mexico, and was officially applied as Texas when the area was organized as a republic in 1836. Texas was an independent republic until it joined the Union on December 29, 1845, as the 28th state. Its single-star flag dates from its independent period and has given Texas the nickname the Lone Star State.
Texas is the second largest state in the nation, after Alaska, and has an area of 695,622 sq km (268,581 sq mi), including 13,095 sq km (5,056 sq mi) of inland water and 1,046 sq km (404 sq mi) of coastal water over which it has jurisdiction. Extending for 1,240 km (770 mi) from east to west and for 1,290 km (800 mi) from north to south, the state comprises 7 percent of the land area of the United States. The mean elevation is 520 m (1,700 ft).
Texas can be divided into four natural regions, or physiographic provinces: the Gulf Coastal Plain, the Central Lowland, the Great Plains, and the Basin and Range province.
The Gulf Coastal Plain, a subdivision of the Coastal Plain, makes up most of eastern and southern Texas and occupies more than one-third of the state. Near the coast this region is mostly flat and low-lying. It rises gradually to 300 m (1,000 ft) farther inland, where the land becomes more rolling. Belts of low hills cross the Gulf Coastal Plain in many areas. In these higher areas the stream valleys are deeper and sharper than those along the coast.
The Central Lowland, a subdivision of the Interior Plains, occupies much of north-central Texas. The section of the Central Lowland in Texas is known as the Osage Plains. The land in this region has elevations ranging from 150 m (500 ft) in the east to 800 m (2,600 ft) on the western edge. Several belts of low hills cross the Central Lowland, running in a north-to-south direction.
The Great Plains, also a subdivision of the Interior Plains, extends over most of northern and central Texas. The part of the Great Plains that occupies northern Texas, or the Panhandle, is called the High Plains. Another name for this area is Llano Estacado, or Staked Plain. The elevation of the High Plains ranges from 750 m (2,500 ft) to more than 1,200 m (4,000 ft). The land is flat, except for a few eroded river valleys.
The southern part of the Great Plains in Texas can be divided into the Edwards Plateau and the Central Texas section. The Edwards Plateau is generally level and differs from the rest of the Great Plains in that it is underlaid with hard limestone, rather than with softer and more porous rock. The Central Texas section, which is hillier and rockier than the rest of the Great Plains in Texas, is often called the Hill Country. The eastern edge of the Edwards Plateau and of the Central Texas section is marked by the long ridge known as the Balcones Escarpment. It divides these regions from the lower Gulf Coastal Plain.
Two small subdivisions of the Great Plains are seen in Texas, the Pecos Valley in the southwest and the Plains Border in the northeastern corner of the Panhandle. The Pecos Valley is mostly flat and rocky. The Plains Border is level or gently rolling.
The Basin and Range province, a subdivision of the Intermontane Plateaus, lies to the west of the Great Plains in the extreme western part of Texas. Running through the central part of this region are several rugged mountain ranges. Between the mountain ridges and to the west of them are high dry basins or plateaus. The Basin and Range province in Texas is divided into two sections, the Mexican Highland and the Sacramento section. The Sacramento section has more extensive plateaus than the Mexican Highland, and contains the highest point in Texas, Guadalupe Peak, at 2,667 m (8,749 ft) above sea level.
|B||Rivers and Lakes|
Texas’s largest river is the Río Grande, which flows southeastward for 2,100 km (1,300 mi) along the border between Texas and Mexico. The Río Grande carries little water during most of the year, but floods occur after periods of heavy rain.
The principal rivers that flow across the central part of the state from the Great Plains or Central Lowland to the Gulf of Mexico are the Colorado, Trinity, and Brazos rivers. The Colorado River is particularly important because it has been dammed to form several large artificial lakes. Two other large rivers are the Red River, which forms most of the boundary between Texas and Oklahoma, and the Sabine River, which marks part of the border between Texas and Louisiana. Shorter rivers that flow across the Gulf Coastal Plain include the Nueces, the San Antonio, the Guadalupe, the Lavaca, and the San Jacinto.
Most of the large lakes in Texas have been formed by dams. Among the largest natural lakes in the state is Caddo Lake, along the Louisiana border. Caddo Lake is not a single open body of water, but a winding network of channels and inlets. Large artificial lakes include Lake Texoma, on the Red River; Toledo Bend Reservoir, on the Sabine River; and Sam Rayburn Reservoir, on a tributary of the Neches River.
Texas has a coastline of 591 km (367 mi) along the Gulf of Mexico. However, long narrow islands called barrier islands extend along most of the coast; if the shoreline of all the islands and bays is taken into account, the coastline is 5,406 km (3,359 mi) long. Between most of the barrier islands and the mainland are shallow lagoons. The largest island along the coast is dune-filled Padre Island, most of which has been made a National Seashore.
Eastern Texas has a humid subtropical climate, while a semiarid low latitude climate prevails in central areas, and an arid low latitude climate in the extreme west. Along the coast the climate is much milder, with fewer extremes in temperatures. Hurricanes sometimes hit the coastal areas of Texas from late July through September, and tornadoes are common in north-central Texas in April and May.
Summers are hot throughout the state, and temperatures exceeding 35°C (95°F) are relatively common. Average July temperatures range from 28° to 30°C (82° to 86°F) over most of Texas. Winters are generally mild, except in the extreme northern parts of the state. The coldest winter weather is brought by north winds, called northers, that sweep down the Great Plains. The winds get warmer as they pass over the state, however, and by the time they reach the coast, temperatures are generally above freezing. Average January temperatures range from 16°C (60°F) in the extreme south to 1°C (34°F) in the northern Panhandle.
Precipitation in Texas decreases steadily from east to west. Along the Texas-Louisiana border almost 1,400 mm (55 in) of rain falls each year. The central part of the state has 640 mm (25 in) of precipitation, and the extreme western part of the state has less than 250 mm (10 in). Rainfall is generally greatest during the summer. Snow is fairly uncommon in Texas, except in the higher mountains and in the High Plains.
The growing season, or the period between the last killing frost in spring and the first killing frost in fall, ranges from 320 days along the coast to 180 days in the Panhandle. In most of the state the first killing frost in fall comes in about the middle of November and the last hard frost in spring occurs toward the end of March.
Much of eastern Texas and the Gulf Coastal Plain has red and yellow soils that are mostly sandy and reasonably productive with the proper use of fertilizers. Parts of the Gulf Coastal Plain and central Texas section have soils based on weathered decayed limestone. This limestone, with its thick cover of native grasses, has formed a rich, nearly black soil. It is one of the best types of farming soil in Texas, although it becomes hard when dry. When wet, it becomes gummy and difficult to plow.
Many of the soils of southern Texas are rich, especially along the lower Río Grande, which has fertile alluvial soils. However, the soils in this area are often not productive because of scanty rainfall.
Most of the High Plains has rich reddish-chestnut soils that are productive with adequate water. Farther south, the Edwards Plateau has thin, poor soils. Most of the land in this area is used for grazing livestock. The Basin and Range province has some fertile alluvial soils in the river valleys of the Pecos and the Río Grande. In most other parts of the area the soil is too salty for farming.
Texas’s vegetation changes gradually from east to west as the climate becomes more arid. Forests cover just 10 percent of the state’s land area. Eastern Texas has forests largely made up of loblolly pines and shortleaf pines. The undergrowth of these forests usually includes several types of ferns. West of the pinewoods is an area of mixed pine and hardwood forests called the post oak belt. Several kinds of oaks, as well as sweetgums, hickories, and elms, grow there. Farther west the forests are thinner and the trees smaller. Mistletoe, a parasitic plant, often grows on the trees of this region. Much of central Texas is grassland, with thickets of junipers known as “cedar breaks.” Southern Texas and parts of the Great Plains are mainly grasslands, with clumps of mesquite trees. The mesquite is highly efficient in extracting water and minerals from the soil and therefore grows well in arid climates. The most common grasses are the big bluestem, found in the less arid regions, and the little bluestem.
Some parts of western Texas have desert vegetation. The plants in this region generally have few leaves and flower only in moist seasons. They send their roots far into the earth to gather as much water as possible. Some, such as the cacti, have thick spongy tissues that store water. The higher elevations of western Texas have some fir and pine trees.
The fields and roadsides of central Texas have many colorful wildflowers, especially in late spring. Among the most notable wildflowers are the bluebonnet, which is the state flower; the Indian paintbrush; and the prickly pear, a type of cactus that is common in dry areas and that bears large yellow flowers on the edges of its thorny leaves.
Texas’s wild animals have been greatly reduced in number by settlement and by extensive hunting and trapping. The white-tailed deer is by far the most important game animal. There are also many coyotes, which live mostly in the rough country of southwestern Texas. Other large animals still occasionally found include pronghorns, cougar, and black bear.
Smaller animals include the rabbit, squirrel, skunk, and raccoon. The prairie dog, a rodent that once existed in huge colonies on the prairies, has become relatively scarce. Two unusual Texas animals are the nine-banded armadillo, a small slow-moving creature with a scaly shell-like skin, and the peccary, or javelina, which resembles a small pig.
Texas has a variety of reptiles. Probably the best known is the western diamondback rattlesnake, one of the most dangerous poisonous snakes. Other poisonous snakes in Texas include the coral snake, the copperhead, and the cottonmouth. There are more than 85 species of nonpoisonous snakes in the state. Many alligators live in the lakes, rivers, and bayous of eastern and coastal Texas, and there are several kinds of turtles. Small reptiles include a variety of lizards, notably the horned lizard.
Texas’s birdlife is the most varied of any state. Among the best-known birds that live in Texas all year is the mockingbird, which is the state bird. Jays, wrens, woodpeckers, sparrows, and titmice are common in the eastern and central parts of Texas.
Among the large migratory birds that winter in Texas, especially around the lakes and lagoons of the Gulf Coast, are many species of ducks and geese, as well as the nearly extinct whooping crane, a great white bird that stands about 1.5 m (about 5 ft) tall and whose numbers are slowly recovering through rigid protection. Birds found in the interior of Texas include the wild turkey and the roadrunner. A few golden eagles live in the mountains of the Basin and Range province.
Fish are plentiful in the waters off the Texas coast. Commercial marine catch includes shrimp, crab, oyster, snapper, flounder, and drumfish. Among the most popular saltwater game fish are the tarpon and sea-trout. Of the freshwater fish caught in Texas the most common are catfish, bass, and sunfish.
Texas’s most serious environmental problem is the establishment of an adequate supply of water. More than 200 reservoirs are maintained for water supply, recreation, flood control, and irrigation. Underground water supplies are also widely used for irrigation.
Soil conservation and the protection of Texas’s wildlife are also of primary concern. There are state organizations, notably Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, as well as federal agencies involved in Texas’s conservation program. Soil conservation in the state is carried out by 212 soil conservation districts, which cover about 99 percent of the state’s total land area. Among the various soil conservation projects are the reseeding of grasses and rangelands to control wind and water erosion, the terracing of croplands in hilly areas, and the rotation of crops in areas where the fertility of the soil has been impaired by extensive growing of a single crop.
The Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission is the major state agency involved in controlling environmental pollution.
In 2006 the state had 43 hazardous waste sites on a national priority list for cleanup due to their severity or proximity to people. Progress was being made in efforts to reduce pollution; in the period 1995–2000 the amount of toxic chemicals discharged into the environment was reduced by 20 percent.
Few states possess as wide a variety of resources as Texas, and few support economic activities of comparable variety. The economy of Texas has closely reflected key technological developments that have occurred during the state’s history. The widespread use of barbed wire in the 1880s enabled improvements in cattle breeding and ranching. By the 1920s the ravages of the boll weevil elsewhere in the southern United States, combined with advances in irrigation techniques, led to greatly increased cotton production in the state, sustaining a major industry that has endured to the present. Commercial production of oil began in 1894. However, the first large-scale production resulted from the discovery of petroleum at Spindletop, near Beaumont, in the southeastern part of the state, in 1901. During the 20th century Texas became the leading oil-producing and oil-refining state in the United States. At the same time, the state’s economy shifted gradually from dependence on agriculture and lumbering to large-scale manufacturing, spurred by industries associated with petroleum, such as the production of petrochemicals and the manufacture of equipment for the oil and gas industry. Oil, cotton, and cattle have now been joined by hundreds of other business and industrial activities. Some of these reflect further technological developments, such as those of the aerospace and computer industries. A further stimulus to diversification was the decline of oil prices in the mid-1980s, which hurt the state’s energy-producing industries. The Texas economy benefited from the many federal military installations located in the state and from other U.S. facilities such as the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, near Houston. A number of major corporations have headquarters in Texas, especially in Houston and the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
Texas had a work force of 11,487,000 in 2006. The service industries, which include such activities as dry cleaning and computer programming, contributes the largest share of the state’s gross product and employs the most workers (38 percent). Another 20 percent work in wholesale or retail trade; 17 percent in federal, state, or local government, including those in the military; 9 percent in manufacturing; 19 percent in finance, insurance, or real estate; 6 percent in construction; 20 percent in transportation or public utilities; 3 percent in farming (including agricultural services), forestry, or fishing; and 2 percent in mining.
In 2005, only 5 percent of the workers in Texas were unionized. The state has a right-to-work law, which prohibits union membership as a condition of employment.
In 2005 there were 230,000 ranches and farms in Texas. Some 32 percent had annual sales of more than $10,000. Many of the others were sidelines for operators who held other jobs. Farmland occupied 52.5 million hectares (129.8 million acres). Most of the land on farms was rangeland, and only 30 percent was cropland.
Texas ranked second among the states in income from sales of all farm products, fifth in income from crop sales, and first in income from sales of livestock and animal products in 1997. The crops grown range from those typical of temperate climates, such as the wheat and sorghum grain grown in the High Plains, to those that thrive along the subtropical Gulf Coast, such as rice and citrus fruits. Texas leads the nation in the production of cattle and of sheep and lambs. It is also an important producer of cotton, sorghum grain, wheat, dairy products, rice, corn, vegetables, poultry and eggs, greenhouse and nursery products, hogs, peanuts, hay, and oranges. Cattle, cotton lint, poultry and eggs, and dairy products are the leading sources of farm income. Proceeds from livestock sales accounted for 67 percent of total farm income in 2004.
The ranches of Texas raise Hereford, Shorthorn, Angus, and Brahman cattle. The Santa Gertrudis, the only recognized breed to be started in the United States, was developed on the King Ranch in south Texas. Cattle production has shifted from the drier areas of western Texas to the more humid eastern sections. Cattle ranching is heavily concentrated along the Gulf Coast and in the southern Río Grande plain south of the Edwards Plateau. The drier areas in western Texas, notably the Edwards Plateau, have remained important for the production of sheep and goats. Texas is especially famous for its Angora goats, which yield most of the mohair produced in the United States.
|A1||Patterns of Farming|
One of the most important developments in Texas’s agriculture has been the westward movement of cotton production. This shift has been stimulated by the increased use of irrigation, employed on 14 percent of the state’s cropland. Cotton, long the chief crop in the Black Prairies of eastern Texas, has become a major crop in the irrigated areas of the High Plains. Grain sorghum is the other major crop on these irrigated lands. Irrigation agriculture is also important in portions of the lower Río Grande Valley, where vegetables, citrus fruits, sugarcane, and cotton are grown. Farther north, in the area known as the Winter Garden, centered on Crystal City, vegetables and melons are the leading crops. They are also grown under irrigation. Around El Paso and Pecos, lands are irrigated mainly for cotton production. Rice culture, also under irrigation, dominates the Texas Gulf Coast from the Louisiana-Texas border to Lavaca Bay.
Most of the corn and wheat grown in Texas is dryfarmed, or grown without irrigation. Corn is grown in central and eastern Texas, and wheat, also irrigated in places, comes mainly from the plains of the Panhandle.
With its long Gulf coastline, which includes numerous bays and estuaries, commercial fishing in Texas is almost exclusively a saltwater business. Shellfish are the most valuable catch, with shrimp accounting for nearly nine-tenths of the income from fishing in 1997. Smaller quantities of crabs and oysters are taken. The most important commercial finfish include snapper, black drum, and tuna. Leading centers of commercial fishing are Brownsville-Port Isabel, Aransas Pass-Rockport, and Freeport. Menhaden, an inedible fish used for animal feeds, industrial oils, and fertilizer, is also caught.
Peak production in lumber was reached in the early years of the 20th century, and thereafter it declined as a result of the severe depletion of forest resources. The cut has increased, however, since the 1930s because of the emphasis placed on the scientific cutting of trees and on reforestation practices. The yellow pine is the most valuable tree crop. Harvested from the forests of eastern Texas, in the area of Lufkin and Camden, the timber is used chiefly in the manufacture of pulp and paper. Some hardwood is also cut and utilized for furniture and construction lumber.
Texas has for many years led all other states in the value of mineral production. Petroleum, natural gas, and natural gas liquids accounted for 93 percent of the mineral value in 1997. However, the reserves of oil and gas that were recoverable under existing economic and technological conditions were increasingly being depleted in the late 1990s.
The most valuable non-fuel minerals extracted in 1997 were portland cement, crushed stone, sand and gravel used for construction, salt, lime, and magnesium metal. Texas is the country’s leading supplier of magnesium. Texas is the second largest producer among the states of portland cement, crushed stone, salt, sulfur, gypsum, crude helium, ball clay, and talc.
Because a vast amount of equipment and relatively few workers are required in petroleum operations, only 2 percent of Texas wage earners are employed in mining activities. Mineral resources are widely distributed throughout the state, with some form of mineral wealth found in almost all of the 254 counties of Texas. Petroleum, the leading mineral, is produced in approximately 200 counties. However, there are three major petroleum-producing areas in the state: the East Texas Oil Field, centering on the city of Kilgore; the Texas Gulf Coast region; and the Permian Basin in western Texas. Of the seven leading petroleum-producing counties, all but one are in the west. In the interests of conservation, Texas closely regulates its petroleum production. Natural gas production in Texas is also widespread, but it is more highly concentrated than petroleum production. The leading gas producing counties are in the Gulf Coast and Permian Basin areas.
Manufacturing has expanded rapidly in Texas. In 1996 income generated by manufacturing in the state was $117 billion dollars; about 1,055,000 people earned wages in manufacturing companies. In terms of the numbers of workers employed, the leading industries in Texas are the manufacturers of industrial machinery, electrical equipment, fabricated metals, processed foods, and chemicals. In terms of total industrial income generated in the state, however, the chemical industry leads. It is followed by petroleum refineries, makers of machinery, food processors, electronic goods manufacturers, and firms making fabricated metals and transportation equipment.
A well-defined belt of manufacturing activity extends along the Gulf Coast, encompassing the Beaumont-Port Arthur-Orange area, Houston, the Galveston-Texas City area, Freeport, Port Lavaca, and Corpus Christi. The development of these areas has been spurred by the presence of raw materials, the availability of natural gas for the generation of electric power, and the fact that the coastal cities have access to the sea and can reach world markets. Chemical products, especially petrochemicals, or those made from petroleum, are major products of the Gulf Coast. One of the major end products is synthetic rubber, of which Texas accounts for much of the nation’s production. Although oil refining is found in almost every part of the state, one of the world’s densest concentrations of refineries is in the Houston-Beaumont area. Houston is also a noted manufacturer of oil-field equipment and other products for the oil industry, such as storage containers. Tugs and barges used in offshore drilling operations are produced in Beaumont, Port Arthur, and Galveston.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) operates the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center in Houston. The center has attracted many aerospace industries that require highly trained specialists, and research plays an important part in its operations.
A second belt of manufacturing cities extends from south to north, all the way to the Oklahoma border, and includes such cities as Sherman, Denison, Dallas, Fort Worth, Waco, Temple, Austin, and San Antonio. Dallas has factories that manufacture oil-field equipment, automobiles, and cotton-gin equipment, and the city is a leading center for the electronics and aerospace industries. Other industries in Dallas include cement manufacturing, chemical production, and food processing. Fort Worth is one of the major producing centers for airplanes and helicopters in the United States, and it also has a share in Texas’s aerospace industry. The primary center in Texas for meat packing is Fort Worth. Another leading city in this north-south industrial belt is San Antonio. The diversified manufactures of this city include petroleum products, food products, and portland cement. However, San Antonio is most noted as the home of a number of large Army and Air Force bases that employ thousands of civilian and military personnel.
Away from the major manufacturing belts are several other important industrial centers. These include Odessa and Midland, in the western Texas petroleum district, which specialize in oil refining, oil-field equipment, and the manufacture of chemicals. Lubbock is the center for cotton trade and marketing for the High Plains area and is among the world’s largest centers for cottonseed-oil production. Amarillo, in the Panhandle, is a leading food-processing center and the commercial center of the region.
Because of its ample electric power supply, Texas has become an important processor of ores brought in from other states and from foreign countries. One of the world’s largest copper refineries is in El Paso, and the only tin smelter in the United States is located in Texas City. Copper is also refined at Amarillo, where there is a plentiful local supply of natural gas. Corpus Christi has zinc-smelting operations and plants that process bauxite into finished aluminum.
Texas’s large supply of natural gas, together with its ample lignite reserves, has enabled the state to meet rapidly increasing demands from its growing population and industries for electric power. Texas ranks first among the states in electricity production. In 2005, 89 percent of the electricity generated in the state came from conventional steam power plants fueled by natural gas or by coal. The state’s 4 nuclear power plants produce 10 percent of the electricity generated. Two nuclear plants are at Glen Rose, near Fort Worth, and two at Bay City, in southeastern Texas. Only 0.3 percent of Texas’s electrical generation comes from hydroelectric facilities. Large hydropower plants are at Buchanan Dam on the Colorado River and at Possum Kingdom Dam and Whitney Dam on the Brazos River.
Texas has a good highway system that reaches all parts of the state but is especially dense in the more populous eastern sections. In 2005 the state had 489,516 km (304,171 mi) of highway, more than any other state. The total included 5,203 km (3,233 mi) of the federal interstate highway system, which connects the largest cities with adjacent states and Mexico.
Texas also has more railroad track than any other state, some 16,489 km (10,246 mi) in 2004. Of the goods shipped by rail and originating in the state, 35 percent are chemicals and 21 percent are nonmetallic minerals.
Air transportation has been especially important to Texans because of the great distances they must often travel from one city to another. There are 31 airports in Texas, including private airports. Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport was the nation’s third busiest airport in 1996, handling 26.6 million passengers. Two airports in Houston also rank among the nation’s busiest.
One of the most interesting aspects of freight transportation in Texas is the intensive use made of pipelines to transport oil and natural gas. From the time that natural gas began to be utilized as a fuel, instead of being wasted during petroleum-extracting operations, pipelines were constructed to transport the natural gas. It is estimated that gas from Texas reaches three-quarters of the United States by pipeline. Pipelines also move crude oil from fields in Texas to refineries along the Gulf Coast and to various points outside Texas. Refined petroleum products also move by pipeline into the interior of the United States. One of the most ambitious pipeline projects undertaken to date, about 2,480 km (about 1,540 mi) long, was built in the early 1960s. It brings refinery products from Houston to points in the eastern United States, including Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and New York City, which is the pipeline’s terminus.
Water transportation plays an important part in Texas commerce. The state has 13 deepwater ports along the Gulf Coast, which have access to the Atlantic Ocean. They are also served by the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, a section of the Intracoastal Waterway system. This sheltered water route stretches the length of the Gulf and Atlantic coasts, enabling barges to shuttle among Gulf Coast ports and easily reach ports on the Mississippi River and on the East Coast.
Houston is Texas’s busiest port and ranks among the top three ports of the United States. Corpus Christi, Texas City, Port Arthur, and Beaumont are next in importance after Houston. The other deepwater ports are Freeport; Galveston; Harbor Island; Port Lavaca; Brownsville and Port Isabel, in the extreme south of the state; and Orange and Sabine Pass, near the Louisiana border. Ships reach the ports of Houston and Beaumont by means of ship canals, because these ports lie inland from the Gulf of Mexico. Victoria, on the Guadalupe River, is an important port for inland waterborne commerce.
The greater part of the tonnage handled by Texas ports is destined for other parts of the United States. Petroleum and petroleum products make up a large part of these shipments. Texas ports also handle a large volume of ores, such as aluminum, imported from foreign countries. They export large quantities of wheat, sorghum, sulfur, and cotton.
|IV||THE PEOPLE OF TEXAS|
The total population of Texas has increased greatly over the years. In 1900 there were only 3,048,710 persons in the entire state. In 2000 the population was 20,851,820, an increase of 22.8 percent over ten years earlier. The state ranks second among the states in population, after California. The average population density is 35 persons per sq km (90 per sq mi).
The first Texans were Native Americans, but there remains only one small reservation in the state, in Polk County, where members of the Alabama and Coushatta peoples still live. The French and Spanish were the first Europeans to reach Texas, but few of them settled in this land; most were explorers, missionaries, soldiers, or traders. Indeed, most of the people who live in Texas are descendants of people who came from other parts of the United States or from Mexico. The largest number of Mexicans and Mexican Americans live in southern Texas, especially along the Río Grande and in such cities as San Antonio and Corpus Christi. Many of them still speak Spanish in their homes and read the Spanish-language newspapers published in several southern Texas cities. Many families emigrated from Germany and other parts of central Europe to central Texas in the middle of the 19th century. The names of some of the towns in central Texas, such as New Braunfels, Fredericksburg, and Schulenburg, reflect their German origin.
In 2000 whites constituted 71 percent of the population, blacks 11.5 percent, Asians 2.7 percent, Native Americans 0.6 percent, Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders 0.1 percent, and those of mixed heritage or not reporting race 14.2 percent. Hispanics, who may be of any race, were 32 percent of the people.
The first towns in Texas grew up along rivers and near springs, where there was plentiful water. There was little early settlement on the dry plains of western Texas. Later, with the coming of the railroads, new towns sprang up along the railroad routes. Still later a new generation of towns was built or expanded in the parts of Texas where large oil fields were discovered.
In 1910 more than three-quarters of the population lived on farms or in rural communities of less than 2,500 people. By 1970 only one-fifth of the people lived on farms or in small towns, a proportion that has remained fairly stable. In 2000 urban areas were home to 83 percent of the state’s population. This shift to larger cities was due to two factors. Farming was mechanized and industries in the cities grew very rapidly, thus providing employment for rural dwellers leaving the farms.
The Gulf Coast section of the Coastal Plain is dominated by a belt of seaport cities, almost all of which are large oil and natural-gas centers.
Houston, with a population of 2,144,491 in 2006, is the dominant city on the coast. It is a shipping point for goods produced throughout the Southwest and has the central administrative offices of many oil, gas, and pipeline companies. Beaumont, with 109,856 people, and Port Arthur, with 55,745, are twin seaport cities in southeastern Texas. Galveston, with 57,523 people, and Texas City, with 44,274, are seaports on Galveston Bay south of Houston. Galveston is located on an island, and its long beaches on the Gulf side of the island make it a popular summer resort. Texas City leans more toward manufacturing. Corpus Christi, with 285,267 people, is the major city in the southern part of the Gulf Coast section.
The Black Prairies, stretching down the northwestern edge of the Coastal Plain, originally constituted Texas’s richest cotton-farming country. The farm population has declined there, but the cities have grown. Dallas, with 1,232,940 people in 2006, for example, is at the center of one of the fastest growing regions of the country. Just west of Dallas, between Dallas and Fort Worth, is Arlington, with a population of 367,197. Arlington is an industrial and tourist center.
San Antonio, with 1,296,682 people in 2006, was first settled by Spaniards. It became the capital of their Texas territory during the late 18th and 19th centuries. Later its growth was spurred by the development of the surrounding rich Black Prairies farming area. Austin has a population of 709,893 and is the capital city of Texas. Waco, with 121,496 people, is a transportation and distribution center.
Fort Worth, with 653,320 people in 2006, is the major metropolitan center of the Central Lowland. Although Fort Worth and Dallas are only 50 km (30 mi) apart, Dallas tends to face east in its business interests and Fort Worth is more concerned with the farmlands, ranchlands, and oil fields to the west. Wichita Falls, with 99,354 people, is another large city in the Central Lowland. Its rapid growth has been spurred by the discovery of large petroleum deposits nearby.
The Basin and Range province is largely unpopulated. Great expanses of land are too mountainous and dry to support human habitation. Some scenic parts of this country are held in state and national parks, yet there are also important ranchlands there. El Paso, with 609,415 people in 2006, is the major city in the Basin and Range province.
The eastern Texas section of the Coastal Plain, or that portion of the Coastal Plain lying inland from the Gulf Coast and east of the Black Prairies, was one of the first parts of the state to be settled by farmers from states to the east. It was a cotton-growing region, and after the abolition of slavery many of the cotton lands were farmed by black and white tenant farmers, operating largely as sharecroppers. In 1930, in some of the counties of eastern Texas, as many as 60 percent of the farmers were tenants. It is in this part of Texas that the farm population has declined the most. Farm tenancy has also dropped sharply. Some counties have lost as much as half their population since the 1930s.
The southern Texas section of the Coastal Plain is much more thinly populated than the Gulf Coast section. There are no seaports, except at the mouth of the Río Grande, and not many large towns. Generally this land is ranching country. There are only two sizable concentrations of population, the city of Laredo and a cluster of cities near the mouth of the Río Grande. Laredo, with a 2006 population of 215,484, is located on the Mexican border. Through the city is funneled a great deal of traffic and trade between Mexico and the United States. Brownsville, with 172,437 people, is the largest of a belt of cities that dominates the Río Grande Valley from the Gulf Coast to a point 100 km (60 mi) inland.
The High Plains section of the Great Plains extends over most of the Texas Panhandle. The population has increased considerably as ranching has given way to crop farming. More important, several towns and cities have grown very rapidly as agricultural or petroleum and natural gas centers. Amarillo, with 185,525 people in 2006, has been replaced by Lubbock, with 212,169 people, as the largest city of the High Plains. Lubbock has grown rapidly with the development of irrigated cotton farming in the surrounding area.
The Edwards Plateau, the rough southern part of the Texas Great Plains, is thinly populated. Some people in the rugged Hill Country support themselves through tourism. San Angelo, with 88,300 people, is the only city of substantial size on the plateau.
About one-third of those participating in religion in Texas are Baptists, while about one-quarter are Roman Catholics. The Methodists, Pentecostals, and Lutherans also have membership of significant size.
|V||EDUCATION AND CULTURAL INSTITUTIONS|
Although the president of the Republic of Texas, Mirabeau Buonaparte Lamar, urged the Texas congress to establish public schools in 1838, public education was little developed until the annexation of Texas to the United States. Private schools, known as Cornfield schools, provided teachers who rotated among the plantations and communities during the 1840s and 1850s.
The public educational system was launched by a law passed in 1854. Then, under the constitution of 1876, a state board of education was created and part of the revenue raised from taxation and from the sale of public lands was set aside to support public education. The discovery of oil on the lands that were earmarked for the support of schools and colleges subsequently increased the value of the Permanent School Fund and the University Endowment Fund.
A commissioner of education, appointed by the governor, and 15 elected members of the state board of education oversee the public education system of Texas. Some school districts are directly responsible to this agency, and others are supervised by locally elected county superintendents. Progress has been made to improve educational facilities for the rural population, as well as for the rapidly growing urban population. Significant developments have been the enforcement of compulsory attendance laws for children from the age of 6 to 18, the closing of all one-room schools, and a drastic reduction in the number of school districts. Private schools enroll 6 percent of the state’s children.
In the 2002–2003 school year Texas spent $8,598 on each student’s education, compared to a national average of $9,299. There were 15 students for every teacher (the national norm was 15.9 students per teacher). Of those older than 25 years of age in 2006, 78.6 percent had a high school diploma, while the average for the nation as a whole was 84.1 percent.
Texas has a comprehensive system of colleges and universities. In 2004–2005 the state had 109 public and 99 private institutions of higher education. The oldest institution of higher education in Texas is Southwestern University, in Georgetown, founded in 1840. Other notable schools include Baylor University, in Waco; Rice University, University of Houston, and Texas Southern University, all in Houston; Texas Christian University, in Fort Worth; and Southern Methodist University, in Dallas. The Texas A&M University System includes Texas A&M University, in College Station, and nine other campuses. The University of Texas has principal campuses in Arlington, Austin, Brownsville, Dallas (in Richardson), Edinburg (University of Texas-Pan American), El Paso, Odessa (University of Texas of the Permian Basin), San Antonio, and Tyler. Lamar University, in Beaumont; University of North Texas and Texas Woman’s University, in Denton; Sam Houston State University, in Huntsville; Southwest Texas State University, in San Marcos; Stephen F. Austin State University, in Nacogdoches; and Texas Tech University, in Lubbock, are also highly regarded public universities.
There are 557 tax-supported public library systems in the state, circulating each year an average of 4.5 books for each resident. The largest public libraries are in Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio.
The libraries of the University of Texas at Austin, the sixth largest research library in North America, consist of four separate collections that include more than seven million volumes.
The Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum is also located on the Austin campus. The Armstrong Browning Library at Baylor University has original manuscripts by 19th-century English poet Robert Browning.
The Houston Museum of Natural Science, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, the Dallas Museum of Natural History, the Dallas Museum of Art, and Science Place in Dallas are only some of the many museums in these cities. Valuable art collections have been acquired by the Amon Carter Museum in Fort Worth, the Marion Koogler McNay Art Museum in San Antonio, the Elisabet Ney Museum in Austin, and the El Paso Museum of Art. Of historical interest are the Texas Memorial Museum of the University of Texas at Austin, the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum at Canyon, and the Witte Museum in San Antonio.
Texas journalism had its start in 1813, when two newspapers, Gaceta de Tejas and El Mejicano, were published in Nacogdoches. An early English-language newspaper of significance was the Telegraph and Texas Register, first published at San Felipe in 1835. The state had 77 daily newspapers in 2002. Those with the largest circulations were the Houston Chronicle, the Dallas Morning News, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, the San Antonio Express-News, and the Austin American-Statesman.
In 2002 Texas had 213 AM and 294 FM radio stations and 101 television stations. The first radio station in the state, WRR in Dallas, began operation in 1920. The first commercial television station was WBAP-TV in Fort Worth, which went on the air in 1948.
|E||Music and Theater|
Interest in music and drama is a vital part of Texas’s cultural tradition, and the state has contributed significantly to national achievements in these fields. Most sizable cities and most colleges and universities have local concert series and theaters. The most prominent locally supported orchestras are the Houston, Dallas, and San Antonio symphony orchestras. The Dallas Opera and Houston Grand Opera provide opera seasons. The Kalita Humphreys Theater, designed by the American architect Frank Lloyd Wright, houses the Dallas Theatre Center. Other active groups are the Casa Mañana at Fort Worth, the Alley Theater in Houston, and the Little Theater in San Antonio.
|VI||RECREATION AND PLACES OF INTEREST|
Many recreational and scenic attractions are found in Texas. There are tall pine forests in the eastern part of the state, rugged mountains and colorful deserts in the southwest, and interesting historic landmarks in such cities as San Antonio.
In about 350 places the Texas landscape has been altered with artificially created lakes. The lakes have greatly expanded the facilities for fishing and all kinds of other water sports. Hunting is a popular seasonal sport in all parts of Texas, particularly in the central and southern sections, where deer and other wildlife abound. Boating, bathing, and deep-sea fishing draw large numbers of visitors to the winter resorts along the lower Gulf Coast. Other winter vacation centers have been developed in the Lower Río Grande Valley between Brownsville and Mission. These cities are gateways to Mexico, as are Laredo, Del Rio, and El Paso.
|A||National Parks and Forests|
Noted for its rugged scenery and beautiful wild flowers, Big Bend National Park along the Río Grande, is a major tourist attraction. A relatively recent addition to the national park system is Padre Island, a barrier island 180 km (110 mi) long and linked by causeway with Corpus Christi. About 130 km (80 mi) of beach has been included in Padre Island National Seashore. Another park is the Guadalupe Mountains National Park in the southwest. National recreation areas provide access to Amisdad Reservoir on the Río Grande and Lake Meredith on the Canadian River.
The National Park Service administers several important historic sites in Texas. The San Antonio Missions National Historical Park preserves four Spanish missions built during the 18th century. An important post in the 19th-century defensive system of West Texas is contained in the Fort Davis National Historic Site. The Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park in Johnson City and Stonewall includes the birthplace, boyhood home, and ranch of Lyndon B. Johnson, the 36th U.S. President.
Four national forests, Sabine, Davy Crockett, Sam Houston, and Angelina, all in eastern Texas, offer recreational facilities. Agencies of the federal government also administer a national preserve, five national grasslands, and 14 national wildlife refuges. Aransas-Matagorda Island National Wildlife Refuge, north of Rockport, is the winter home of the only flock of Canadian-nesting whooping cranes in the world.
State-protected lands include more than 110 state parks and five state forests. Palo Duro State Park, one of the largest state parks, covers 6,100 hectares (15,000 acres) in the High Plains. Water sports may be enjoyed at Caddo Lake, Atlanta, Possum Kingdom, Lake Whitney, and many other state parks, and bay fishing is available at Goose Island State Park.
A number of state parks preserve the missions, forts, and historic buildings of Texas. In San Antonio is the famous mission-fortress known as The Alamo. Several historic sites associated with the Republic of Texas are included in Washington-on-the-Brazos State Park. East of Houston the San Jacinto Monument commemorates the defeat of the Mexican general Antonio López de Santa Anna in 1836, during the Texas Revolution. Other state historic parks include such sites as the Port Isabel Lighthouse; the Fannin Battleground, near Goliad; and the birthplace of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, in Denison.
|C||Other Places to Visit|
The large meteor crater near Odessa is one of the few known meteor sites in the United States. Once a prosperous mercury-mining town, Terlingua is one of Texas’s ghost towns. The W. J. McDonald Observatory on Mount Locke is operated by the University of Texas.
The earliest version of the rodeo is supposed to have taken place in Pecos in 1884. Most Texas events combine rodeos and barbecues with elements of the Spanish fiesta. These colorful events include Laredo’s Washington Birthday Celebration, a ten-day fiesta celebrated jointly with residents across the border in Mexico; and Brownsville’s costume festival, known as Charro Days, held during the week before Lent. Fiesta San Antonio spans ten days in late April. This major event includes art exhibitions, coronation of King Antonio, pilgrimage to The Alamo, concerts, band festivals, and three parades.
Many Texas festivals are associated with livestock auctions and state fairs. More than 600,000 cattle move through Texas’s largest livestock auction, in Amarillo. The State Fair of Texas, held in Dallas during the fall, draws more than three million people annually. Traditional fair exhibits include prize livestock and horse show performances, and a huge midway. Livestock events draw more crowds to the East Texas Fair in late September, in Tyler.
Some annual events have a sports and recreation emphasis. A series of fishing competitions, including tarpon, billfish, and surf fishing tournaments, occupy Port Aransas from June to September. The July Hot Air Balloonfest in Mesquite attracts thousands of pilots and onlookers from all over the United States for the aircraft flyovers, parachute jumps, arts, crafts, and musical entertainment. The activities of Dallas’s Cotton Bowl Week commence late in December and are climaxed by the New Year’s Day football game.
Other festivals in the state highlight the arts. The Houston International Festival each April celebrates the performing and visual arts with a ten-day outdoor festival of multicultural music, dance, arts and crafts, and food. Texas’s dramatic scenery serves as the backdrop for outdoor drama in several cities. Galveston brings musicals to life at Galveston Island Outdoor Musicals; the spectacular Franklin Mountains are the backdrop for open-air McKelligon Canyon Amphitheater near El Paso.
|E||Sports and Recreation|
Major league professional sports teams in Texas include the Houston Astros and Texas Rangers baseball teams; the Dallas Cowboys football team; the Dallas Mavericks, Houston Rockets, and San Antonio Spurs basketball teams; and the Dallas Stars hockey team. The Babe Didrikson Zaharias Memorial Museum, near Beaumont, honors Zaharias, a leading athlete of the first half of the 20th century. The Texas Sports Hall of Fame is in Waco.
Texas is governed under a constitution adopted in 1876, as amended. Four earlier constitutions had been adopted, in 1845, 1861, 1866, and 1869. An amendment to the constitution may be proposed by the legislature. To become effective, the amendment must be approved by a majority of people voting on the issue in an election.
The chief executive of Texas is a governor, who is elected to a term lasting four years and may be reelected any number of times. The lieutenant governor, who succeeds the governor should the latter resign, die, or be removed from office, is also elected, as are the attorney general, treasurer, comptroller of public accounts, commissioner of agriculture, and commissioner of general land office. The influential Texas Railroad Commission, made up of three people popularly elected to six-year terms, regulates the state’s production of petroleum, natural gas, and coal, as well as its railroads and trucking industry.
The Texas legislature is composed of a Senate and a House of Representatives. The 31 senators are popularly elected to four-year terms, and the 150 representatives are elected to two-year terms. The legislature convenes in January.
The highest tribunals in Texas are the Supreme Court and the Court of Criminal Appeals, each with nine justices popularly elected to six-year terms. The state’s intermediate court of civil appeals is composed of judges popularly elected to six-year terms, and the major trial courts, called district courts, are made up of judges elected to four-year terms. Among the other tribunals in Texas are corporation courts and municipal courts.
Texas is divided into 254 counties, more than any other state, and some 1,171 cities and towns. Each county is governed by an elected commissioners court consisting of a county judge or administrator and four commissioners. Other elected county officers include the county attorney, treasurer, sheriff, and assessor-collector of taxes. Many of the cities used the council-manager or commissioner-manager form of government.
Texas elects two senators and 32 representatives to the Congress of the United States. The state casts 34 electoral votes for president.
Analysis of bones found near the present-day western Texas town of Midland suggests that humans lived in the area as early as 15,000 years ago. Between 1000 bc and the arrival of Europeans several Native American cultures existed in different parts of what is now Texas. A well-developed society existed in the wooded areas of eastern Texas. Abundant rainfall allowed the inhabitants, whom archaeologists call Mound Builders, to raise corn, beans, squash, and tobacco. They built houses of poles, thatch, and mud plaster. They made beautiful pottery and used stone implements. Several mounds, each about 3.8 m (12 ft) high and 46 m (150 ft) long, are thought to have been made by these prehistoric people.
Along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico early inhabitants lived principally on seafood and practiced ceremonial cannibalism. They made pottery that was waterproofed with asphalt. In central Texas large middens, or refuse piles built up over many years, have revealed advances in technology during the Stone Age. More advanced stone implements were found in the top layers of the refuse, and cruder ones were found at the bottom. Dwellings made of stone slabs were discovered along the Canadian River in the Texas Panhandle. The people who lived there hunted and planted corn and beans. An early people, whom archaeologists call Basket Makers, settled in the Texas Panhandle and along the Pecos River. They lived in caves or built shelters of poles and adobe mud. They made baskets, bags, and sandals from the yucca and other plants and raised corn and squash and killed game with a dart-thrower.
When the first European explorers arrived, they found that the settled, agricultural Native Americans living in Texas were usually peaceful. The peoples of eastern Texas belonged to the Caddoan linguistic group and were loosely organized into two confederacies, the Caddo of the Texarkana area and the Hasinai on the upper Angelina and Neches rivers. When Spanish explorers first met the Hasinai, the Spaniards were greeted with the word techas, or allies. The Spanish pronounced the word as Tejas (Texas), and adopted it for both the area and the people. These people lived in small villages with 7 to 15 dome-shaped huts. They were accomplished farmers and raised many different crops. Deer, bears, and fish were plentiful, and these peoples sometimes made long trips to hunt buffalo.
The Karankawa lived along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico. They used dugout canoes to catch seafood from the lagoons along the shore, smearing their bodies with fish oil to repel mosquitoes.
The Wichita and Tonkawa of central Texas hunted and planted beans and corn, but they depended less on farming than did their eastern neighbors. The Coahuiltecan, who lived south of present-day San Antonio, ate beans, cacti, and small animals. The Lipan peoples, who were related to the Apache of the southwest United States, inhabited the western part of Texas. Late in the 18th century, bands of Comanche entered the Texas area and pushed the Apache southward. The Apache and the Comanche depended on the buffalo for food and used its hide for shelter and clothing. The Comanche, in particular, became expert horsemen.
The Spanish were the first Europeans to explore present-day Texas. In 1519 a group led by Alonzo Álvarez de Piñeda mapped the coast of the Gulf of Mexico from Florida to Vera Cruz, spending 40 days at the mouth of the river they named Rio de las Palmas (probably the present-day Río Grande). In 1528 Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca and other members of an expedition led by Pániflo de Narváez were shipwrecked on the Texas coast. Cabeza de Vaca and three others made their way across Texas, wandered through what would become the southwestern United States, and in 1536 reached a Spanish settlement in Mexico. The native inhabitants told Cabeza de Vaca tales about cities full of gold and jewels, which interested the Spaniards. In 1540 an expedition led by Francisco Vásquez de Coronado marched northward from Mexico in search of these cities, called the Seven Cities of Cíbola (actually a village of the Wichita in present-day Kansas) and the city of Quivira (actually a pueblo of the Zuni people in present-day New Mexico). The group spent much time wandering over the Llano Estacado, or Staked Plain, of western Texas and eastern New Mexico in 1541, but found no evidence of cities full of treasure.
At about the same time, the Spanish adventurer Hernando de Soto was exploring the Mississippi River. After de Soto died of fever, his men tried to reach Mexico by an overland route. They traveled through eastern Texas, but when they reached the plains area, they turned back to the Mississippi. The Spanish lost interest in the territory after the disappointing reports of the two expeditions, although in 1598, Juan de Oñate explored the area above the Río Grande.
In 1682 the Spanish established the first mission in Texas at Ysleta, a village near present-day El Paso, to bring Christianity to the native peoples. In 1685 the French explorer René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle, built Fort Saint Louis near Matagorda Bay and claimed for France all the lands drained by the Mississippi River and its tributaries. Soon afterwards La Salle was killed on another expedition, and the men at the fort died from disease or were killed by the native inhabitants. The French claim alarmed the Spanish, however, and they sent several expeditions to find and destroy the French fort. In 1690 churchmen from these expeditions established the first of several missions among the Tejas people of eastern Texas.
The missions were difficult to maintain and were quickly abandoned. The eastern province of what was called New Spain was ignored until 1714, when a French trading expedition crossed Texas and founded a settlement on the Río Grande near present-day Eagle Pass. Again the Spanish were alarmed by the French activities. In 1716, fearing more French incursions into their territory, the Spanish re-created the eastern Texas mission system. More than 30 new missions were established, the most prominent of which was near San Antonio, which was founded as a Spanish town in 1718.
No official boundary had ever been set between the territories claimed by Spain and those claimed by France, and when the United States bought the Louisiana territories from the French in 1803, the boundary was still unknown (see Louisiana Purchase).
Between 1800 and 1820 Spain’s weak hold on the province of Texas became even more insecure. During that time several expeditions by adventurers from the United States entered Texas. One of the earliest of these so-called filibustering expeditions (armed invasions by groups of private citizens) was led in 1800 by Philip Nolan, who was captured and executed by the Spanish. In 1810 Father Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla and his followers, many of whom were in Texas, tried to declare Mexican independence from the Spanish Empire. Although that revolt was crushed, unrest in Texas and in the rest of Mexico under Spanish rule continued. Several times Mexicans seeking freedom from Spain joined American adventurers to try to set up governments in Texas. In 1813, for example, the Republican Army of the North, led by Bernardo Gutiérrez, a Mexican liberal, and by Augustus W. Magee, a former United States Army officer, took control of Nacogdoches, Goliad, and San Antonio. The leaders declared Texan independence and adopted a constitution. However, on August 18, 1813, the revolutionaries were wiped out by Spanish forces at a battle near the Medina River.
In 1819 James Long of Natchez, Mississippi, led the last filibustering expedition into Texas. He captured Nacogdoches, set up a republic, and proclaimed himself president, but Spanish soldiers soon drove him out as well. Long fled to Galveston Island, the base of the French pirate Jean Lafitte, to ask for Laffite’s help in the revolution against Spain, but he refused. Long left Galveston to return to Texas and fight for independence. He was eventually captured and sent to prison in Mexico, where he was killed by a guard. His wife, Jane Long, had remained at Point Bolivar near Galveston when he had returned to the mainland. There she gave birth to a daughter in 1821, the first known Anglo-American birth in Texas.
Although Spain had claimed Texas for more than 300 years, there were only three settlements between the Río Grande and the Sabine rivers: San Antonio, Goliad, and Nacogdoches. Spanish officials realized that more settlers were needed to prevent other countries from trying to claim the land. In 1820 Moses Austin, a United States citizen, asked the Spanish government in Mexico for permission to settle in Texas. Austin died soon after making his request, but his son, Stephen Fuller Austin, was permitted to continue with the project in 1821. Mexico gained its independence from Spain in a revolution that same year, and Austin negotiated a contract with the new government to settle 300 families in Texas (see Mexico: War for Independence). This was the beginning of the empresario system. Empresarios were people who contracted with the Mexican government to bring Roman Catholic settlers to Texas in exchange for 9,300 hectares (23,000 acres) of land for each 100 families that they brought. The first Anglo-American settlements were at Washington and San Felipe de Austin, on the Brazos River, and at Columbus, on the Lower Colorado River. Other American empresarios who founded colonies in Texas included Green DeWitt, Martin de Leon, and Haden Edwards, each of whom was responsible for settling several hundred families.
From 1821 to 1836 the population of Texas increased from about 4,000 to between 35,000 and 50,000 people. Most of the immigrants were from the southern United States. They only pretended to be Catholic, spoke English, did not have much respect for authority, and refused to assimilate. Most importantly, they brought black slaves with them to cultivate cotton. Mexicans, having fought only recently for their freedom from Spain, opposed slavery.
The Anglo-Americans were worried about promised land titles, and as population increased, they wanted to be separate from the Mexican state of Tejas y Coahuila, to which Texas had been joined. Mexican officials, however, were usually too busy with internal political problems to give much attention to the new settlers.
In 1826 the Fredonian Rebellion, a short-lived attempt by a small group of Anglo-Americans in Texas to create the independent Republic of Fredonia, increased Mexican suspicion that settlers were not loyal to Mexico. Realizing that there were more Anglo-Americans in Texas than Mexicans, the Mexican government stationed Mexican troops there, and passed a law that restricted further Anglo-American immigration and prohibited the importation of slaves. In October 1832 a convention of Anglo-Americans met at San Felipe de Austin and petitioned for the repeal of the law. Stephen Fuller Austin, who at first urged the colonists to remain loyal to Mexico, was sent to Mexico City to present the petition, and after several months he was assured that Mexico would take action. However, when a letter he had written advising Anglo-Americans to organize a separate state fell into Mexican hands, he was arrested and spent almost two years in prison. In 1835 Austin returned to Texas, by then convinced that using force to obtain independence was justified.
In 1834 the Mexican politician and soldier Antonio López de Santa Anna deposed the Mexican government and assumed dictatorial powers. He was determined to crush rebellions in Texas and other areas. This determination led to the outbreak of the Texas Revolution. In October 1835 Mexican soldiers were sent to Gonzales, Texas, to retrieve a cannon that had been given to the settlers for use against Native Americans. The settlers, with a few reinforcements, forced the Mexicans to retreat in an encounter that is considered the first battle of the revolution.
In November 1835 a convention of Anglo-American settlers set up a provisional state government, elected a governor and a council, and declared that Texans were fighting for the rights due them under the Mexican Constitution of 1824. Austin and two others were sent to the United States to secure loans. A Texan army was quickly gathered, and won a series of battles in the fall of 1835. However, the Texas forces were defeated at The Alamo, a former mission in San Antonio. On March 2, 1836, during the siege of The Alamo, a convention of American Texans met at Washington-on-the-Brazos and declared independence from Mexico. The delegates chose David G. Burnet provisional president, named Sam Houston commander in chief of all Texas forces, and adopted a constitution that protected the institution of slavery, which had been prohibited by Mexican law.
The Texans defeated Santa Anna and his troops at the Battle of San Jacinto on April 21, 1836. Santa Anna was captured, and forced to recognize Texas’s independence and to withdraw south of the Río Grande.
The Republic of Texas, which existed for almost ten years before becoming part of the United States, was beset by many problems, principally financial ones. Although Texas had much land, until it was farmed by settlers little money would be available. To farm the land, however, white settlers would have to remove the native inhabitants by force. The first Texas election took place in September 1836, and Sam Houston defeated Stephen Austin to become the first president of the new Republic of Texas. Although the new republic was recognized by the United States and by several European countries, Mexico refused to recognize it, arguing that the treaty signed by Santa Anna claimed territory that was not part of the original state of Tejas. The republic asserted that the Río Grande from its mouth to its source was the western boundary of the new country, which would have given Texas parts of present-day New Mexico and Colorado. Mexico maintained that the southern boundary of Texas should be the Nueces River and not the Río Grande.
In 1841 a trading expedition of Texans was sent to Santa Fe as the first step in a plan to secure the western boundaries of Texas. The group was captured by Mexican troops, and the captives were forced to march to Mexico City, where the survivors of the march were imprisoned. Mexican soldiers also periodically crossed into Texas and for short periods occupied San Antonio, Goliad, and Refugio. Finally, in February 1844, the Republic of Texas and Mexico signed an armistice.
Difficulties with Mexico did not prevent more land grants to those who settled in the Republic of Texas. The population increased from an estimated 35,000 to 50,000 in 1821 to between 125,000 and 150,000 in 1836. German immigrants settled in central Texas, and other Europeans also established colonies. Most of the settlers had come from the United States to get the free land Texas was offering. Most of these new settlers joined Houston and his political supporters, who wanted the United States to annex the republic.
As the land was settled, Native Americans were forced out. During the Texas Revolution, Houston had negotiated a treaty with the Cherokee that reserved lands in east Texas for the Cherokee. Texans had not approved the agreement, and now the republic refused to honor it.
As settlers moved in, some Cherokee took matters into their own hands. Perhaps as many as 300 Cherokee joined about 100 Mexicans led by Vicente Cordova to camp on an island in east Texas and announced that they did not support the republic. A Texas army attacked and arrested all the leaders, and distrust between the Cherokee and whites increased.
In December 1838 the Georgia-born soldier and politician Mirabeau B. Lamar was elected president of the republic. Lamar had no sympathy for Native Americans. He ordered the Cherokee out of the country. The Cherokee resisted, but at the Battle of the Neches in 1839 they were defeated and forced to go north to what is now Oklahoma, clearing east Texas for white settlement.
|I||Annexation and the Mexican War|
The United States Senate rejected a treaty to annex Texas in 1844, but it reversed that decision the following year, and Texas joined the Union on December 29, 1845. Under the treaty of annexation, Texas was responsible for all debts incurred by the republic. Mexico immediately broke off diplomatic relations with the United States. U.S. General (and future U.S. President) Zachary Taylor was ordered to the Río Grande to enforce it as the Texas boundary. Mexico, however, held that the boundary was the Nueces River and considered Taylor’s advance a provocation. Mexico sent troops across the Río Grande. Congress responded by declaring war on Mexico on May 13, 1846. Many Texans participated in the Mexican War. Members of the Texas Rangers, a group formed on the eve of the Texas Revolution by Austin to protect Anglo-Americans from attacks by Comanche and Apache, acted as scouts for U.S. troops. Mexico was not defeated until troops under General Winfield Scott invaded Mexico City, which fell on September 14, 1847.
Under the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, signed on February 2, 1848, Mexico relinquished its claims to Texas, and the United States acquired land that would become the states of California, Nevada, and Utah, and parts of Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, and Wyoming. In addition, the United States paid Mexico the sum of $15 million and agreed to settle all legal claims of U.S. citizens against Mexico. Under the Compromise Measures of 1850 the United States paid Texas $10 million for territory on the Upper Río Grande. Texas used the money to pay debt and set up a school fund.
|J||Civil War and Reconstruction|
Southern immigrants to Texas had brought their slaves with them after 1820, but the plantation system for growing cotton had not penetrated much farther than east Texas in 1861, when the American Civil War began. Pro-Union sentiment was strong in west Texas, because of the proximity to Mexico and because west Texans needed federal protection against the attacks of Native Americans, and in central Texas, where German settlers opposed slavery.
Houston, who had been elected governor in 1859, was a staunch Unionist and strongly opposed secession, withdrawal from the United States. Nevertheless, at a convention held in February 1861, delegates voted to secede and join the Confederate States of America. Houston, despite his long service to Texas, was removed from office.
The majority of Texans supported the Confederacy once secession took place. General John B. Hood’s Texas Brigade and Benjamin Franklin Terry’s Texas Rangers made notable contributions to Confederate forces. Early in 1862 an expedition of Texas troops, under General Henry H. Sibley, captured Santa Fe, New Mexico, but they were later forced to withdraw.
Among the few Civil War battles fought in Texas were the Confederate victory at the Battle of Sabine Pass along the Texas-Louisiana border, and the capture of Galveston by Union forces, and its recapture by the Confederates. Because soldiers had not yet heard the news that the war had ended, the last battle of the Civil War occurred near Brownsville more than a month after Confederate General Robert E. Lee had surrendered in Virginia. Black people in Texas did not hear of the Emancipation Proclamation—which President Abraham Lincoln had issued in 1863, to free the slaves in Confederate states—until June 19, 1865, when the Union Army landed in Galveston.
After the Civil War ended in 1865, the Southern states that had seceded from the Union were governed by a combination of appointed federal officials and the army until Congress readmitted them to the union. Ratification of the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments to the Constitution of the United States, was among the requirements for readmission of the states. These amendments, respectively, prohibited slavery, gave citizenship to all born or naturalized in the United States while prohibiting political activity by those who had supported secession, and gave all citizens, regardless of color, the right to vote. The former slaves, or freedmen, were enfranchised (given the right to vote) by the 15th Amendment and, because the Democrats had led the South into the Civil War, blacks joined the Republican Party. Blacks, who could vote and hold office in Texas until they were disfranchised in the early 20th century, were the major source of Republican voting strength. They joined with Northern immigrants to the state and long-time opponents of Texas secession to elect Republican Edmund Davis as governor in 1870.
The early success of the Republican Party in Texas was due primarily to a lack of unity on the part of white voters. Most whites objected to enfranchising blacks and joined the Democratic Party. When white Democrats did unite, they defeated Davis in 1874 but he refused to concede the election. He argued that organizations such as the Ku Klux Klan, a secret terrorist organization that was dedicated to white supremacy, had intimidated black and other potential Republican voters. Angry whites armed themselves and went to the capital in Austin to force Davis to leave office. When he found no support from the federal government, Davis stepped down.
After the Civil War, Texas grew rapidly. Between 1870 and 1900 the population of Texas increased from 19th in the country (818,579) to sixth (3,048,710). In the 1880s railroads opened new lands on the Great Plains and across Texas, and farmers flocked to those areas and planted staple crops—wheat, corn, and cotton—encouraged by new mechanical reapers, barbed wire (which helped control wandering cattle), and better farming techniques. One spur to growth was the end of Native American raids.
During the Civil War and Reconstruction, settlers on the poorly protected western frontier were harassed by Native Americans and were forced to leave the area. Although the U.S. government had begun in 1845 to build a string of forts from the Red River to the Río Grande, the forts had never been a satisfactory method of dealing with the Plains Native Americans. Comanche, Apache, and Kiowa raiding parties easily slipped between the forts to attack settlements. In 1868 a reservation in the Indian Territory (now in Oklahoma) was set aside for the Comanche and the Kiowa, but they continued raiding across the border into Texas, and the Apache left reservations in New Mexico to raid into Texas. In the early 1870s, U.S. troops, which included the all-black 10th and 11th units known as Buffalo Soldiers, began a vigorous campaign to keep Native Americans on the land set aside for them. Federal forces also fought Native Americans with the assistance of the Texas Rangers.
The most effective weapons against Native Americans on the Plains were the decision to exterminate the buffalo by General William Tecumseh Sherman and the expansion of the railroad into the West. These actions destroyed Native American food supplies and forced them onto reservations. It is estimated that almost ten million bison were killed between 1871 and 1880 for sport, for food to feed people laying tracks for the railroad, and for the animals’ hides.
The cattle industry also grew after the Civil War. Since the days of the Spanish missions, there had been cattle in Texas, but because of the long distance to markets, the cattle had little value, except for hides and tallow. Ranching had been neglected during the Civil War, and vast herds of wild cattle roamed southwestern Texas, where the famed longhorn breed originated.
Before the Civil War, cowboys riding horses had rounded up the cattle and driven them from East Texas to Louisiana markets, but after railroads were built from Chicago to Kansas it was possible to send beef to the large Chicago market. The first major cattle drive all the way from Texas to Kansas took place in 1866. As the railroads pushed farther west, the cowboys drove their herds to the railroad terminal points, called cow towns. The cow towns Wichita, Dodge City, and Abilene became identified with cowboys and the cattle trails from Texas. Until railroads began arriving in Texas in the 1880s to make the drives unnecessary, thousands of Texas cattle were herded north each year on various trails, of which the best known was perhaps the Chisholm Trail from San Antonio to Abilene, Kansas.
Cotton, however, not cattle, was the most important influence on the economy of Texas. As the railroads pushed west, they opened new land for growing cotton, which could be shipped to Galveston, Houston, or transported to St. Louis and then into the international trade. In addition, the state gave lands to railroad companies to encourage the companies to lay more tracks. Those companies then sold the land cheaply to settlers who would later ship their farm goods on the trains. By 1890 Texas produced more than 33 percent of the cotton grown in the United States. The crop financed the growth of Texas cities, especially Dallas and Houston.
|L||Postwar Political Development|
As Texas grew, many of its new immigrants came from other Southern states. Southerners were attracted to the state because it had seceded from the Union, the land had not suffered damage during the Civil War, and its economy and racial views were similar to those of other Southern states. The new immigrants were usually Democrats, and as Texas slowly became a one-party state, political battles took place within that party for control of the local and state governments.
In the 19th century, factions, or groups, rather than parties, dominated Texas politics. During the years of the republic and early statehood, sentiment was divided between factions who supported or opposed Sam Houston. The Whig Party had some strength in cities and among the German population, but most Texans disliked the fact that national Whig leaders had opposed annexation of Texas in 1845. Members of the American Party (or Know-Nothings) wanted to prevent foreign-born citizens from holding political office and to reduce what they believed to be foreign influences and ideas, and they gained support in the state in the 1850s. Many Know-Nothings were former Whigs who could neither support the Democrats nor join the developing Republican Party, which most Southerners considered antislavery. Others were followers of Houston, who did not like the drift of the Southern Democrats towards secession.
Hardin R. Runnels, a man who supported the anti-Union, or Calhoun Democrats (named after former Vice President John Calhoun of South Carolina), was elected governor in 1856. Houston challenged Runnels for governor in 1860 and Houston won, but he resigned in 1861 rather than agree to secession. The governors during the Civil War were all anti-Houston men, and after the war ended, they moved into the Democratic Party. In 1874 Richard Coke was elected governor. Coke and his followers were known as Conservative, or Redeemer Democrats. Their policies emphasized economic expansion through government aid to business, noninterference in private enterprise, and few government services. With no other major party for disgruntled voters, opponents of such policies fought the establishment by trying to control the local or state Democratic Party organization. Often, however, they created third parties. Farmers made up the bulk of voters in these third-party movements.
Farm prices fell in the 1880s, as production of staple crops increased around the world, creating a surplus. In Texas, as in the South generally, one result of falling cotton prices was an increase in tenant farming and sharecropping. Sharecroppers raised part of the landlord’s crop and were paid a share of the profits after deductions for living expenses and the cost of tools and supplies. A tenant farmer sold the crop himself and paid the landlord a share of the profits as rent. The landlord chose what crop to raise, and the choice was almost always cotton. Even if the profit was low, the landlord got his share first. The cropper or tenant took what was left or, if none was left, took out a loan to keep going until the next harvest. Unfortunately, cotton prices stayed depressed until the end of the century. Thus the tenants and sharecroppers found themselves in a cycle of debt from which they could not escape. More than 50 percent of both black and white Texas farmers were tenants by the 20th century.
Dissatisfied farmers across the nation responded to these developments by organizing third parties to challenge the Democrats and the Republicans. Both the Greenback Party in the 1870s and the Populist Party in the 1890s advocated an inflated currency to make debts easier to repay, government ownership of the railroads that controlled the prices for transporting crops, and other reforms, such as the direct election of senators. In Texas the Greenback and Populist parties courted Republican voters, mostly blacks. These parties did not advocate outright racial equality, but many Populists argued that economic progress would benefit all who were poor, black and white.
Some leaders of the Democratic Party in Texas responded to the challenges of third parties by advocating similar reforms within their own party. They were called Agrarian Democrats and their most important leader in Texas was James Stephen Hogg. As Texas attorney general (1887-1891), he had successfully prosecuted several railroad companies for anticompetitive activities and helped write the Texas antitrust law in 1891, the second such law in the nation. In his 1890 campaign for governor, he promised stricter regulation of monopolies, including railroads. After his victory Hogg appointed former U.S. Representative and Senator John H. Reagan as chairman of the newly created Texas Railroad Commission. Reagan had achieved national recognition for sponsoring legislation to establish the U.S. Interstate Commerce Commission, which oversaw the operations of railroads across the nation. The Texas Railroad Commission regulated railroads in the state so successfully that it was later given the job of controlling state petroleum production.
In 1892 Hogg defeated challenges from both the Populists and the Conservative Democrats, but when he retired in 1894, the Populist Party threatened to defeat the state Democratic Party in 1894 and 1896 by taking advantage of farmer discontent created by a depression in 1893. In 1894 the Populists elected 22 representatives and two senators to the state legislature. Although Democrat Charles Culberson won the election for governor, the Populist candidate, Thomas L. Nugent, ran a very close second.
The 1896 race for governor was a particularly vicious one. The Populists formed a biracial coalition with black Republicans to unite all tenant farmers in support of wide-ranging economic reforms. In response, the Democrats charged the Populists with racial betrayal and argued that Populist economic reforms were too radical. In an election marked by ballot fraud and racial violence, the Democrats won the election. The Populists tried to reorganize, but returning prosperity in 1897 and endorsement by the Democratic Party of moderate reforms left populism with no political base.
At the end of the 19th century, black Texans suffered from increasing discrimination. In 1896 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Plessy v. Ferguson that laws creating what were called separate-but-equal facilities for blacks and whites did not violate the 14th Amendment. Consequently Texas passed laws that segregated all public facilities and transportation, authorized segregated residential neighborhoods, and restricted black Texans in all aspects of life. The Democratic Party in Texas, as in the South, promised to white voters that these segregation laws—or Jim Crow laws as they were called—would be enforced.
The political contests of the 1890s had already begun to prevent blacks from voting prior to the Plessy v. Ferguson decision. In the bitter and often dishonest local elections of the 1890s, white men’s associations used violence to keep blacks from voting. Democrats argued that the violence and corruption of local elections could be prevented if voters registered by paying poll taxes and nominated candidates by using party primaries. The party wanted primaries to be for whites only to remove the issue of race. The Democratic Party authorized all-white primaries, Texas voters approved a poll tax, and the Terrell Election Laws (1903-1907) mandated party primaries for statewide offices. Black Texans could then vote in general elections that were meaningless, since the state only elected Democratic candidates; but they could not vote in Democratic primaries, which chose state office-holders and the party’s nomination for the U.S. Congress. By the 20th century, Texas had defined blacks as second-class citizens without voting power and had created elaborate legal codes that segregated blacks in all public and private facilities.
Mexican Texans also faced discrimination. Before the Texas Revolution, they had been farmers, small ranchers, and skilled laborers. As Anglo-American ranchers and farmers settled in Texas, the Mexican Texans faced increased competition—as well as taxes, fraud, legal fees, and battles over water rights. Over time most Mexican Texans joined an unskilled labor pool. Disfranchising Mexican Texans after the Civil War proved relatively easy, because most Mexicans in Texas retained their Mexican citizenship. Those who were citizens fell victim to the whites-only primary and the poll tax.
|M||Texas in the Early 20th Century|
Many important Texas politicians endorsed moderate reforms that would increase the power of the state government and allow it to take a more active role in preventing social and economic injustice. These Democrats called themselves Progressives and controlled the party before World War I (1914-1918). The reforms they advocated were mostly those of white middle-class Texans, who were not particularly concerned about racial injustice. Nationally, progressivism was largely an urban movement. In Texas, however, there were no particularly large cities: In 1920 fewer than 33 percent of Texans lived in metropolitan areas, fewer than 20 percent lived in cities of 10,000 or more, and only three of those—Houston, Dallas, and San Antonio—had populations between 200,000 and 300,000 inhabitants.
As a result, progressivism in Texas stressed reforms that changed state institutions, enfranchised white women, and most importantly prohibited the sale of alcoholic beverages, called Prohibition. Texas progressives believed that the sale of alcohol corrupted democratic society and was a moral evil.
Prohibitionists began campaigning for a dry state in 1887. In 1918, influenced by the charge that alcohol interfered with the effort to support World War I, which the United States was fighting in Europe, the legislature passed a law forbidding the sale of alcohol anywhere in the state. In January 1920 the 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibited the sale of intoxicating alcoholic beverages throughout the country.
Middle-class Texas women played a major role in the prohibition movement. Although they could not vote, women could campaign for legislation. Their visibility in the prohibition campaigns, and their active participation in organizations that advocated reforms of education and charitable institutions, increased their desire to vote themselves. The Texas Woman Suffrage Association was organized in 1903 and lobbied hard in 1915 and 1917 to force the legislature to enfranchise women. In 1918 the legislature extended the franchise to women in primary elections, and in 1919 the legislature ratified the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which gave women the vote throughout the country.
The coalition of progressive Democrats that enacted prohibition in Texas also passed laws creating orphanages and state institutions to care for the mentally ill. Progressives voted money for colleges and universities, in particular for scientific agriculture at Texas A&M College (established in 1876) and professional education at the University of Texas (established in 1883). The legislature standardized curriculum in the public schools and extended more state control over them.
The state also reformed the prison system. The convict lease system, under which criminals were rented out for private labor, was abolished, and the state segregated prisoners by sex, age, race, and nature of the offense. All of these reforms extended state control over social institutions and became politically contentious later in the century. Progressive Democrats also passed other legislation that created agencies to improve roads and conserve forests and other natural resources.
|N||Texas in World War I and the 1920s|
Most Texans enthusiastically supported World War I. Texas had voted for Woodrow Wilson, Democratic governor of New Jersey, when he won the presidential election in 1912. Wilson was a Southerner and chose several Texans to serve in his administration. Almost 200,000 Texans served in the military services during the war, including more than 400 women who volunteered as nurses. A number of important army bases were built in Texas, and San Antonio in particular retained active military sites after the war ended. World War I created a connection between the Texas economy and the defense industry, and most Texans, including farmers, prospered in both the years preceding and during the war.
Racial and ethnic tensions, however, increased during the war years. Around military posts in the South, black soldiers objected to Jim Crow laws being applied on army posts and in the surrounding communities. A riot provoked by discrimination in Houston involving the all-black Third Battalion of the 24th United States Infantry ended with a court-martial that severely punished the soldiers involved.
The same surge of patriotism that demanded endorsement of the war effort identified German surnames as un-American. The legislature recommended that books or pamphlets praising German culture, for example, be withdrawn from the public schools, and some Germans in the Texas Hill Country and San Antonio were harassed and beaten.
The Mexican Texans of South Texas were affected by border troubles. The fighting that followed the Mexican Revolution in 1910 had pushed immigrants north of the border to escape the war. In 1916 President Wilson sent the U.S. Army to pursue the rebel Mexican General Francisco (Pancho) Villa, who had raided several Texas towns, and Texas Governor James Ferguson dispatched the national guard and the entire Texas Ranger force to South Texas to maintain order. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, were killed on both sides. Suspecting the new immigrants and the Hispanic population of complicity with the raiders, white Texans violated civil rights in attempts to identify bandit leaders. The Texas Rangers, in particular, were accused of indiscriminately brutalizing Mexican Texans; as a result, many Mexican Texans came to distrust legal authority, in particular the Rangers. After an investigation, the legislature reorganized the Rangers, reducing it to 4 regular companies of 17 men each.
The intolerance continued into the early 1920s. Provoked by the Communist revolution in Russia during the war, many Texans saw any unusual idea as dangerous. The result was the persecution of those who belonged to labor unions, the Socialist Party, or to civil rights organizations. Intolerance was also encouraged by the perception that the values of the city were intruding upon the morality of rural America.
In 1920 the Ku Klux Klan was reborn and spread through the Midwest into rural areas and into the South, Texas, and the Southwest. The organization chose for its leader, or grand wizard, Hiram Evans of Dallas and promised to restore Christian morality to the nation. In Texas the Klan promised to enforce prohibition, stop gambling, discourage divorce, and prevent immoral conduct. It was antiforeign, anti-Semitic, anti-Catholic as well as antiblack. By 1924 Klan supporters in Texas had elected a U.S. senator and may have controlled the police forces and governments of every city except San Antonio and Galveston.
The issue of the Ku Klux Klan and enforcement of prohibition dominated politics in the early 1920s. “Farmer” Jim Ferguson, who had been governor of the state from 1915 to 1917 but had resigned after he was accused of misconduct in office, led much of the fight against the Klan. Ferguson was still a force to be reckoned with despite the fact that he had been banned from public office. In 1924 his wife Miriam “Ma” Ferguson ran for governor, and aided by her husband’s popularity, she defeated the Klan candidate to become the second woman governor in the United States and the first elected to that office. Her victory sealed the Klan’s fate as a public political force.
Dan Moody defeated Ferguson in 1926 and won reelection in 1928. His administration reformed the highway department and modernized both the state administration of schools and the prison system.
Texas Democrats generally did not support the party’s presidential candidate in 1928, New York Governor Alfred E. Smith. Smith opposed prohibition and was a Roman Catholic, both of which irritated many Texans. Some Texas Democrats who opposed Smith organized as “Hoovercrats” to support the Republican nominee, Commerce Secretary Herbert Hoover. Texas voted for Hoover in 1928, the first year that the state supported a Republican candidate for the presidency.
|O||The Great Depression and World War II|
At the onset of the Great Depression, the economic downturn of the 1930s, many Texans assumed that the downturn was an eastern financial collapse and would not affect Texas. By the winter of 1930-1931, however, the price of cotton had dropped to less than a nickel a pound. More than 350,000 Texans were out of work by mid-1932, and at least 25 percent of them had no resources to survive unemployment. Dwindling tax revenues and the lack of industries limited public funds, and private charities had no funds.
Consequently Texans, like other Americans, were anxious for federal aid, and they voted overwhelmingly for Democrat Franklin Delano Roosevelt in the 1932 presidential election over the incumbent Republican Herbert Hoover. Roosevelt promised a New Deal for Americans in his inaugural address, and his domestic programs profoundly affected the Texas economy in the 1930s. Under Roosevelt’s New Deal legislation, the federal government provided direct relief payments to states and individuals for the first time in history. Programs such as the Works Progress Administration and others hired the unemployed to work on public projects.
Putting people back to work meant that many minority Texans were included in the public work projects. At first local white leaders wanted blacks and Mexican Americans excluded from government employment. But under pressure from federal administrators and organizations such as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, which were located in Eastern cities in which blacks could vote, state administrators relented and included minorities in federal programs. Black voters, as a result, switched their allegiance in the 1930s from the Republican Party to the Democrats. Federal courts struck down the all-white primary in 1944. The number of black voters in Texas increased during the early 1940s, particularly in urban areas, where blacks had begun to move during the 1920s. By 1950 blacks were nearly 20 percent of the population of most Gulf Coast cities and nearly that high a percentage in Dallas and Fort Worth.
Many Mexicans in Texas were deported to Mexico during the Great Depression. Large-scale roundups of immigrants, particularly in rural areas, included Texan Mexicans. Federal projects were prohibited from aiding immigrants, and since many Mexican Texans could not prove citizenship, they did not benefit from Roosevelt’s New Deal as much as other poor people. Nevertheless a group of bicultural business leaders in San Antonio and in the Río Grande Valley organized the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) to fight segregation and to create a stronger voice for Hispanics in Texas and in national politics. Members of LULAC tended to vote Democratic, and they financed the first court challenge to the segregation of Mexican American children in separate schools. In 1948 LULAC and members of the Mexican American Legal Defense Fund won lawsuits ending official segregation of Mexican Americans in public facilities in Texas.
The New Deal changed Texas politics in other ways as well. Aided by the National Labor Relations Board (a federal commission that oversaw business-labor relations), higher percentages of Texas workers joined labor unions than ever before. These workers also became ardent Democrats.
Some changes were more subtle. The Agricultural Adjustment Act, for example, began planning deliberate scarcities to raise crop prices. Much of the land taken out of cultivation was marginal land farmed by tenants. Texas farmers began the great migration to the cities and to California. The speed of the migration increased during World War II (1939-1945) when defense-related jobs were created in many cities. Texas, 60 percent rural in 1930, would be 60 percent urban in 1950. After 1950 agriculture remained one of the three legs supporting the Texas economy (farming, oil, and defense-related industries), but it no longer dominated all other economic enterprises. Tenant farming, moreover, had all but disappeared from the state.
Although the oil industry was important to the economy of the Gulf Coast, it did not dominate the state’s economy before 1930. In that year, the great East Texas oil field near Kilgore began production, and the Permian Basin field was discovered in the late 1930s. Much of the Permian field was on state land, and as a result much of the royalties from the field financed education in Texas. So, too, did the income from the tidelands oil, and petroleum became the state’s leading export.
During World War II, Texas benefited from the rapid construction of defense-related factories. An estimated 1,250,000 troops trained at 15 Army military bases. San Antonio became a center for the United States Army Air Force, and clear skies and available land encouraged the construction of more than 40 air bases. The Gulf Coast became a center of naval activity. Although some of these military sites were shut down after the war ended, many remained open, providing jobs as the nation geared up for the Cold War, the economic and diplomatic struggle between the United States and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), that followed World War II.
The demand for oil and petrochemicals (chemicals based on oil or natural-gas) during and after the war made the strip from Houston to Lake Charles in southwestern Louisiana the most industrialized area in the South. The need for paper and pulp products revitalized the East Texas lumber industry. These defense industries hired workers and turned the state away from its rural economic base toward an urban-industrial one.
|P||Politics in Texas|
The political landscape of Texas changed dramatically with the New Deal, World War II, and its aftermath. When Roosevelt won the presidency in 1932, U.S. congressmen from the South, who had possessed little power under Republican administrations, began to have national influence. In 1936 Texas representatives chaired nine congressional committees, and Texan John Nance Garner was vice president. Democrat Sam Rayburn also became a national figure, serving as Speaker of the House of Representatives three times (1940-1947, 1949-1953, and 1955-1961) during his 48 years in Congress. This political power obtained defense contracts, military bases and New Deal relief money for the state. A number of young Texan politicians, notably future U.S. president Lyndon Baines Johnson, adopted a national outlook. These people believed that the future of Texas, because it was now connected to the national economy, was no longer either predominately rural or Southern.
Opposition to the New Deal centered in third-party activity, and it remained there throughout the 1950s. In Texas, the third-party factions called themselves Texas Regulars in 1944 and Dixiecrats in 1948. Their strategy was to vote for third-party electors in presidential elections and vote for Democratic candidates for state and local office. That way the elites could retain local and state political influence.
The third-party strategy had little success in Texas. Roosevelt won in 1940 and 1944 with more than 70 percent of the popular vote, and President Harry S. Truman (1945-1953) defeated the Dixiecrats just as soundly. In 1952 and 1956 more traditional Democrats, led by Governor Allen Shivers, voted for the Republican Dwight David Eisenhower for president rather than Democrat Adlai Ewing Stevenson. The success of President Eisenhower failed to create support for the state Republican Party, however, and Democrats retained control of local, state, and congressional offices.
Throughout the 1950s, the Texas Democratic Party became more moderate. Traditional Democrats were challenged by a liberal wing of the party that supported government-directed social programs and complete integration of public facilities. Although they could only muster about 40 percent of the popular vote, liberals could defeat any very conservative candidate who ran for statewide office. Under their pressure, however, the state government provided more money to education, established minimum salaries for school teachers, and expanded and improved colleges and universities. The state government reduced its own costs, updated the prison system, and improved the highway system.
Shivers is considered the first of the modern Texas governors; yet he opposed racial integration. His successor, Price Daniel, Sr. (1957-1963), reorganized the agency responsible for welfare, and during his term the legislature enacted a sales tax, guaranteeing a dependable source of revenue for the state. More importantly, no Texas governor after Shivers ever considered passing legislation that would interfere with integration. Both Texas senators and most Congress members refused to sign the infamous Southern Manifesto, a pledge never to support Brown v. Topeka Board of Education (1954), the Supreme Court ruling that ordered desegregation of public schools.
|Q||Texas Politics 1961-1985|
Moderate Democrats continued to control Texas politics in the 1960s. United States Senator John Kennedy of Massachusetts selected U.S. Senator Lyndon Johnson from Texas as the Democratic vice-presidential nominee in 1960, and the Democratic ticket narrowly carried both Texas and the nation. Despite the influence of moderate Democrats in Texas, Dallas won a national reputation as a center of right-wing extremism after Lee Harvey Oswald assassinated President Kennedy while he was riding in a presidential motorcade through the city in November 1963. City and state leaders worked hard after the assassination to erase that image and demonstrate that Texas was a modern and moderate state.
Johnson assumed the presidency and won reelection in 1964, overwhelming Barry Goldwater, the Republican nominee. Johnson’s War on Poverty program, a series of measures to promote economic development in depressed urban areas, and his Great Society plan, which included a new housing bill, a Medicare program to help provide medical care for the elderly, and additional antipoverty measures, were controversial in Texas. The majority of Texas Democrats supported them despite reservations because Johnson was a native son and because a label of extremism might dampen economic growth.
Nevertheless, a number of white Texans objected to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, a sweeping civil rights bill outlawing racial discrimination in public accommodations and by employers, unions, and voting registrars. They also opposed the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which suspended use of voter-qualification tests that had sometimes served to keep blacks off voting lists. Many white Texans also objected to policies that favored minority-owned companies and job applicants as well as aid to minority citizens, hallmarks of the Johnson presidency. Texas strongly supported the Vietnam War (1959-1975), and the state’s leadership had little patience with the antiwar demonstrations common in the late 1960s. Like many other Americans, social changes in the 1960s bothered many Texans, but a strong conservative reaction only came in the 1980s.
Black Texans and Mexican Texans made significant political gains in the 1960s. The successful attack on voting restrictions sent several blacks, including Barbara Jordan of Houston, to the Texas legislature, and in 1966 Jordan was the first black woman elected to the state senate. In 1972 Jordan was elected to the United States House of Representatives, where she earned national attention for her eloquent speech in favor of impeaching President Richard M. Nixon (1969-1974) during the Watergate affair. She also delivered the keynote address at the 1976 Democratic National Convention.
Texas passed a state law specifically declaring segregation illegal in 1969, but most white Texans thought the civil rights movement had gone far enough. Blacks, however, were registered to vote and were an integral part of the Democratic Party. So too were Mexican Americans, who had become more militant, with many of the young calling themselves Chicanos and speaking of Brown Power. The militancy had subsided by the early 1970s, but not before the organization of a political party, La Raza Unida. These new Hispanic voters registered as Democrats and controlled local and state politics south of San Antonio. The Democratic Party had to remain moderate once the registration of minorities increased.
John Connally, President Johnson’s long-time friend and political protégé, won the 1962 election for governor. He was more cautious about government-sponsored social change than the president, but went along with the civil rights legislation.
He was the state’s most forward-looking governor in economic terms. Connally worked to expand the community-college system, upgrade the university system (in particular the University of Texas and Texas A&M University), increase pay for teachers, and institute other measures to support scientific and specialized training. Connally spent most of his energy attempting to create a business climate that would bring new industry into the state.
Most historians believe that Connally’s political success delayed the growth of the Republican Party in Texas for at least a decade. Johnson had persuaded the legislature to pass a law in 1960 that would allow him to run for vice president and for reelection to the U.S. Senate at the same time. When he was elected vice president, he resigned as a U.S. senator, and was replaced by John Tower, a Republican.
|Q2||Growth of the Republican Party|
Senator Tower was the first Republican to be elected U.S. senator from Texas since Reconstruction. Tower won two more terms to the U.S. Senate, demonstrating that a Republican could win in Texas. By 1963 there were more than 100 local Republican clubs that were opposed to regulation of oil and gas and the integration of public schools. Their growth was limited by the popularity of Governor Connally, but more conservative Democrats began to donate money to Senator Tower’s campaigns in the late 1960s. In general, club members endorsed the Republican candidate, U.S. Senator Barry Goldwater of Arizona for president in 1964.
In 1968 both President Johnson and Governor Connally announced their retirement from public life. Texans voted for Minnesota Democrat and U.S. Vice President Hubert Humphrey for the presidency, but former Vice President Richard Nixon won the election. When Nixon was reelected in 1972, he carried Texas and most of the rest of the nation. The pall of the Watergate scandal caused the state to vote for Democrat Jimmy Carter in 1976, but the election disguised a growing state Republican Party that won new adherents in the suburbs, and recruited well among more conservative Democrats. These new Republicans supported the conservative Republican Ronald Reagan, former governor of California.
The new Texas Republican Party showed its strength in 1978 when Republican Bill Clements, a Dallas oilman and friend of Ronald Reagan, was elected governor. Clements was not a particularly successful governor. He battled with the Democratic legislature, failed to pass much of his program, and his abrasive personality alienated many potential voters. He did, however, give the Republican Party credibility by demonstrating that Republicans could win statewide elections. He lost his first reelection attempt and then won again in 1986. By that time the nature of Texas politics and the Texas economy had begun to change drastically.
|R||The Texas Economy|
In the 1960s the population of Texas passed that of Ohio and Illinois to become the third largest state in the nation by 1975. In 1970 slightly more than 70 percent of Texans, both black and white, lived in urban areas, the same percentage as in the rest of the nation. About 12 percent of Texans were black, compared to 35 percent in 1870, but the Mexican American population had grown to 20 percent, up from less than 5 percent in 1900.
The character of Texas cities had changed, too. No city had adequate public transportation. Private automobiles encouraged the growth of interstate highways, although new highway systems often divided established neighborhoods. Whites escaped both school integration and a perceived crime threat by moving from city centers to the suburbs. Each year the inner cities housed a higher percentage of the poor and black and Hispanic people while tax revenues declined.
In the 1960s the economy of Texas remained centered on oil, defense and agriculture. Oil created new jobs, which attracted new settlers, which in turn encouraged real estate, financial, and manufacturing booms. Farms continued to grow in size, and the 1970 U.S. census reported that less than 3 percent of the population owned farms. East Texas and west Texas became almost uninhabited, with an occasional island city that served the vast territory. No one discounted the importance of agriculture to the Texas economy, however; somewhere between 20 and 25 percent of the state was involved in the $33 billion “agribusiness” industries. Many towns or cities, for example San Antonio, listed military bases as their major employer. In addition, the location of the manned-space center near Houston and the 1958 development of the microchip attracted high-tech defense contractors to the Houston and Dallas-Fort Worth areas. Although the economy was much different than that of prewar Texas, it remained one based on raw materials and defense.
|R2||The 1970s and 1980s|
In the mid-1970s and early 1980s, the Texas economy and population grew spectacularly. In 1973 members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) placed an embargo on oil to the United States and other supporters of Israel, ending the stability in oil prices that had existed for the previous 25 years. The price of Texas oil tripled and then doubled again after 1979. Texas oil profits caused real estate prices to soar, construction to skyrocket, and banks to enjoy unprecedented growth. Texas agriculture, however, suffered from the high oil prices, which increased the cost of running machinery and petrochemical fertilizers and pesticides. Nevertheless, the economic boom brought 2.5 million people to Texas between 1970 and 1985.
In the early 1980s, after world oil demand decreased and the embargo collapsed, oil prices dropped quickly. Real estate and banking fell into a depression that was accented by a reduction in the increase in defense spending, particularly after the end of the Cold War. By the mid-1980s the Texas economy had been badly damaged.
The collapse in oil prices cut the state’s revenue 20 percent. Governor Mark White, Jr., who had defeated Bill Clements in 1982, made a temporary sales tax increase permanent and tried innovative ways to raise new revenue. At the same time, advised by a committee including billionaire Texan H. Ross Perot, White introduced and passed a number of public school reforms, a pay raise for public school teachers, and other measures to improve public services, including the prison system. He was defeated in 1986 by Clements.
Successive governors—Democrat Ann Richards (1991-1995) and Republican George W. Bush (1995-2000)—pledged to not institute an income tax, and state revenues did not expand. When the state was affluent in the 1970s and 1980s, governors after Connally did not seem concerned about improving the state’s infrastructure and services. They agreed that gradual improvement could take place with expanding revenues. The collapse of the economy left Texas with roads and bridges needing repairs and relatively low salaries for state employees.
In addition, the state was under a court order to improve and modernize state prisons, which had been neglected since 1950. Governor Richards allotted more funds to improve prisons, roads, and bridges, but that decreased money for public and higher education. In the 1990s, Texas voters increased their opposition to taxes and spending for public services.
Beginning in 1989 the state’s economy improved, and lost its reliance on raw materials industries. Service industries, high-tech companies, finance, and trade all prospered in the 1990s. The number of people in trade and trade-related jobs increased, and many areas of Texas benefited from the North American Free Trade Agreement(NAFTA). This 1994 agreement signed by Canada, the United States, and Mexico called for the gradual removal of tariff and trade barriers. The areas of Texas that benefited were concentrated in the industrial triangle of Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, and San Antonio. Other parts of the state—east Texas, south Texas, and the Panhandle—did not fully recover from the economic collapse and have not received the expected benefits from NAFTA. Areas along the border, in particular, have lost manufacturing and assembly plants to Mexico, and the growth of new service industries has not eased high unemployment.
Texas has also continued to lose petroleum-related and defense jobs. In addition, Texas farmers faced drought conditions in the late 1990s. West Texas agriculture was hit hardest by extremely dry weather in 1998, although most other regions of the state were also affected.
Despite these few problem areas, the general economic recovery in Texas since 1989 has attracted new immigration to the state. White immigrants continued to move from the Northern states into Texas, mostly to the suburbs of the large cities in the industrial triangle. These newcomers tended to vote Republican, joining with Republican voters in west Texas to make the Republican Party important in state elections. That growth matched the national trend, and the majority of Texans voted for the Republican candidate Ronald Reagan and his running mate, the Texan vice-presidential candidate, George Bush, in the 1984 and 1988 presidential elections. Bush’s son, George W. Bush, was elected governor in 1994 and reelected in 1998. When Bush was elected president of the United States in 2000, he resigned the governorship, and Lieutenant Governor Rick Perry became governor. Perry is also a Republican. The state has two Republican U.S. senators , Kay Bailey Hutchison and John Cornyn, and the party has made strong gains in the state legislature and county elections. Texas is changing from a largely Democratic state to a largely Republican one, and Texas Republicans usually represent the most conservative wing of the national Republican Party.
Texas’s population grew by 1.5 million in the early 1990s, making the state the second largest in the country—after California. In the 1980s and 1990s the largest immigrant group came from south of the U.S. border, mostly from Mexico, but also from other Latin American countries. Mexican immigration to Texas, both legal and illegal, has made Hispanics the largest minority in the state. An increase in the Asian population, primarily from the countries of Southeast Asia, began in the 1980s and continued in the 1990s. Demographers predict that by 2010 Texas will have a population composed of 36.7 percent non-Hispanic whites; 9.5 percent blacks; 45.9 percent Hispanics (who may be of any race); and 7.9 percent of other racial and ethnic groups.
The new immigrants tended to join black Texans in the inner cities, or settle in the Río Grande Valley, south of San Antonio. They usually vote Democratic and have a much lower income level than whites who live in suburbs. Texas thus confronts the problem, as does the nation, of politically powerful and affluent suburbs that surround poor cities in which the inhabitants have been historically disenchanted with the political process.
In 1993 a 51-day standoff between federal law-enforcement officials and members of the religious group the Branch Davidians took place near Waco, resulting in the deaths of as many as 80 group members and four federal agents. The Branch Davidians, a religious movement that had split from the Seventh-Day Adventists in the 1930s, had moved to Waco in 1934. In the early 1990s anticult activists, including some former Branch Davidian members, accused the group of various abuses, including illegal ownership of weapons. The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) decided to search their compound in Waco for illegal weapons. The ATF raid on February 28, 1993, however, turned into a gunfight in which four agents were killed along with as many as five Davidians. The raid was followed by a lengthy standoff between agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Branch Davidians. The standoff ended on April 19, when federal agents injected tear gas into the buildings in an attempt to force the occupants out. A fire broke out, and although some escaped the blaze, 75 Branch Davidians remained inside and perished, including 25 children. Both the FBI and U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno came under heavy criticism for the siege of the Waco compound. In late October and early November 1995 the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee held hearings concerning the ATF’s procedures, and representatives for the ATF argued that their procedures had been changed to prevent any similar situations from occurring.
The history section of this article was contributed by Robert A. Calvert. The remainder of the article was contributed by Robin W. Doughty.