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View series: The United States: a territorial history

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Texan Independence

This map is part of a series of 20 animated maps showing the history of The United States: a territorial history.

Soon after gaining independence, Mexico invited settlers to move into parts of its territory. A large number of American and European settlers arrived in Texas and established cattle ranches and cotton farms.

By 1830, there were nearly 20,000 foreigners living in the region, mostly from the southern areas of the United States, together with about 1,000 black slaves.

At this point, Mexico decided to place limits on the immigration of Americans and then changed the country’s constitution to abandon its federal structure, a move that also abolished the region’s autonomous status. This led to a rebellion by American settlers with support from Mexicans living in Texas.

Early in 1836, the Mexican army led by General Santa Anna laid siege to the Alamo, an abandoned Spanish mission on the outskirts of San Antonio, where 200 partisans were fighting for Texas’ independence. There were no survivors when the mission finally fell and this tragic episode served to strengthen the Texans’ determination to fight on. Several weeks later, with their stirring battle cry ‘Remember the Alamo’, they triumphed over the Mexican troops at San Jacinto and created the Republic of Texas.  

The independence of Texas was recognized by London and Paris, but the new State’s constitution accepted slavery which, for a while, prevented the US Senate’s vote in favour of its admission to the Union.   

Texas was finally admitted as a member of the United States in 1845 with frontiers that stretched as far as the Rio Grande.

However, tensions between the two countries continued and war broke out the following year.

After winning the war, the United States forced Mexico to give up a large number of territories as far as the Pacific Ocean. A few years later, in 1853, the United States purchased a small section of Mexican territory that was needed for the construction of the future transcontinental railroad.