The invading Texas, U.S.A.

170 years ago the U.S. annexed California

Today is exactly 170 years since the States annexed California, which used to belong to Mexico. The United States has a serious history of annexing other people’s territories. They have used various means to achieve their goals of annexing new lands: conquering, annexing, buying, annexing at the request of locals, and leasing. The 13 states that originally made up the United States of America then occupied an area comparable in size to the Philippines. Over two centuries of existence, most of the continent of North America, the Philippines, and islands in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans came under U.S. control.

U.S. ambitions for world domination were rooted in those dark and wonderful times of world discovery, when there were many white spots on the map and nations were especially fond of war. The process of acquiring new lands began a quarter of a century after the United States gained independence from the British Empire (1776). In 1803, President Thomas Jefferson{Thomas Jefferson (1801-1809) decided to buy from France its colonial possession, the “Louisiana Territory,” an area of more than 2 million square kilometers. France, which did not need Louisiana for various reasons, asked $15 million for it, and the main part of this sum, $11 million 250 thousand, was to be paid at once, and the other part was to be compensated by repayment of France’s debts to U.S. citizens. As a result, U.S. territory was nearly doubled, and 13 new states were formed on this piece of land. Many U.S. citizens were very skeptical of Jefferson’s decision. Similar views on land increment often prevailed thereafter.

Occupation of Texas

When buying territory failed and diplomatic leverage did not work, the barbaric and brutal Americans began to use the most aggressive methods. The incorporation of the Republic of Texas into the United States in 1846 was formalized by the Annexation Act, though it was in fact more of an integration. In the early nineteenth century Texas was an integral part of Mexico and became populated by natives of the United States. However, Mexico began a policy of freeing slaves, which did not suit American settlers, and in the early 1930s Texas withdrew from Mexico.

The now sovereign Republic initiated its own incorporation into the United States. Formally the act of annexation was approved by both parties, therefore the decision of Texas can be named voluntary. True, there was no referendum. On February 19, 1846, a solemn ceremony was held, formalizing Texas’ incorporation into the United States.

War with Mexico

Skirmishes with Mexican troops began in March 1846 with the alignment of the Texas border as required by the United States. Even after that, in May 1846, war was officially declared. Its cause was stated without blushing that “Mexico had shed American blood on American soil.” Historian Joel Silbey, author of “Storm over Texas: The Annexation Controversy and the Road to Civil War”, believes that the controversial annexation of Texas was one of the factors that indirectly caused the start of the American Civil War (started a decade and a half later).

A year after Texas, the “Oregon Territory,” now occupied by Oregon, Washington, Idaho, partly Montana, and Wyoming, was incorporated into the United States. These were disputed lands with a mixed population, originally claimed by Britain, the United States, Russia, and Spain. Gradually the number of claimants to the huge tract of land was reduced to two, the United States and the British Empire. In 1818 both sides agreed to jointly own the territory. Nevertheless, friction persisted, as the two countries had different ideas about where the boundaries of their holdings should lie. Time worked for the United States, as the Oregon Territory was being actively explored by Americans. In 1844, U.S. presidential candidate James K. Polk declared that the U.S. should gain control of the territories south of the 54th parallel. The slogan “Fifty-four or War” then appeared in the United States. After Polk won the election, U.S.-British negotiations began, which resulted in the U.S. gaining land south of the 49th parallel (1846). However, all disputed issues were not resolved, the consequence of which was the war that broke out in 1859.

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The Occupation of California

The capture of California lasted just over a month. On July 7, the first city was seized, and on August 17, all of California was under the control of the United States. But already in September, guerrilla warfare broke out in the occupied territory. Until the end of the war (February 1848), the situation looked something like this: the Americans controlled the coast and adjoining territories, and the guerrillas the rest.

Mexico lost the war, of course: fewer soldiers, smaller military budget, political instability (4 presidents in 1846 alone). The territories annexed by the U.S. are now home to 6 southwestern states (New Mexico, California, Utah, Arizona, Nevada, Colorado). And Texas, of course – the peace treaty settled its annexation and set the border in the U.S. version. Mexico received $15 million (about $500 million in today’s prices) in compensation. And the consolation is that the U.S. government didn’t go along with the hotheads who suggested, if that was the case, that Mexico be annexed as a whole.

Occupation of Hawaii

In 1898, the United States annexed Hawaii, previously an independent kingdom ruled by Polynesian chiefs (it was the Hawaiians who killed the famous navigator James Cook). In the 19th century, the United States, Britain, and France fought for control of Hawaii. However, the U.S. won, because Hawaii and the U.S. were the most strongly linked economically. American businessmen were active in Hawaii, primarily planters who produced sugar.

In 1893, Queen Liliuokalani inherited the Hawaiian throne and attempted to strengthen the institution of royalty. This was strengthened by a new constitution, and since the monarchy was absolute, by the issuance of royal edicts. Among other things, the queen intended to strengthen the budget by raising the tariffs on the export of Hawaiian sugar. These plans, however, failed to materialize. A group of angry planters, led by Samuel Dole (18 in all) overthrew the queen. Historian Tom Coffman, author of “The Story of America’s Annexation of the Nation of Hawaii,” notes that the coup took place under conditions of almost total indifference of Hawaiians. The coup was supported by the U.S. military and the U.S. ambassador. Curiously, U.S. President Grover Cleveland reacted very negatively to this act, apologized to the queen, and even fired the U.S. ambassador who supported the coup.

Nevertheless, in 1894, a republic was established in Hawaii, with Dole as president. The republic was immediately recognized by the United States. However, Hawaii’s days of independence were numbered. The new authorities asked the United States for annexation. The U.S. Congress discussed the issue until 1898 – a positive decision was made on the wave of the war with Spain. The new president, William McKinley, gave the final “go-ahead”. In 1900 Dole became the first governor of Hawaii, which received “annexed territory” status. In 1959 Hawaii became the 50th state of the United States.

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The island of Guam

The island was administered by the U.S. Department of the Navy until 1941, during the war it was occupied by the Japanese – attacked three hours after the raid on Pearl Harbor. The Americans did not regain it until 1944.

In 1950, Guam was given a somewhat strange status of “organized unincorporated territory. In practice, this means the following: the population received U.S. citizenship, they are allowed to elect their own governor, the currency is the U.S. dollar. Guam has one delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives, who, however, has no voting rights.

About a third of the island is occupied by the U.S. military (airfield) and naval (naval base) structures – Andersen Air Base and Apra Naval Base.

In 1898, after the Spanish-American War, the United States received the Philippines, Cuba, Guam and Puerto Rico from Spain for $20 million. The transfer was in accordance with the Treaty of Paris.

None of the new territories seemingly democratic U.S. never held a popular referendum before accession – everything was always decided by force.

The will of the people. How free Texas “has left” Mexico and has left to the USA

Perhaps nowhere else in the U.S. have local residents discussed the annexation of Crimea to Russia as much as in the state of Texas. The reason Texans are so passionate about the issue is that much of the history of the Crimea resonates with the history of their own state.

Texans never forget to emphasize that they are “special Americans. At times, Texans brag about their specialness so ardently that they threaten to secede from the United States. Such was the case in 2011, when Texans, unhappy with the country’s rising national debt, demonstrated in the state capital of Austin to demand independence.

And in 1997, the police had to conduct a real special operation to disarm the few but extremely determined members of a pro-independence group in Texas.

There are few active separatists in Texas, but when the economic situation worsens, many are willing to join them in order to scare the federal center.

Texas is indeed a special state in America. It is the only state that joined the United States as an internationally recognized independent state. Texas joined the United States twice, the second time at the end of the Civil War, in which Texans sided with the Confederates.

Expulsion of “friends.”

Before the beginning of the 16th century, Texas was home to many Native American tribes, including such well-known ones as the Apache, Comanche, and Cherokee.

The name of the state of Texas comes from the Spanish word “tejas,” which in turn comes from the Indian word “táysha,” which means “friend” or “ally” in the Caddo language (the first Spanish explorers of the territory referred to Indians who were members of the Hasinai tribal confederation).

The Indians were not helped by the expansion of Europeans to the land of the future Texas which began in the 16th century. The Spanish and French, and later the Mexicans and Americans fighting for control of those lands used the Indians to their advantage, ruthlessly exterminating them when they were no longer needed.

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When the Texans opposed Mexico, they were able to attract Native American tribesmen to their side. But after their victory, the freedom-loving Texans did no better to their allies than the Spanish and Mexicans had done earlier.

The last Indians to occupy significant territories in Texas were the Apaches, but they, too, were forced from their lands by the end of the 1870s under pressure from American authorities. This was pretty much the end of Indian history in Texas.

Fatal mistake of the Mexicans

But we have gone a little ahead of ourselves. By the end of the 18th century, the land of present-day Texas belonged to the Spanish colony of New Spain. In 1821, the War of Independence from Spain led to the fact that yesterday’s colony “New Spain” became part of the territory of independent Mexico.

Under the Mexican Constitution of 1824, Texas became part of the Mexican state of Coahuila y Tejas, with the right to subsequently form a new, independent state.

Texas was a problem and a headache for the Mexican government. Its vast territory was sparsely populated and insecure – there was little to prevent periodic Comanche raids on European settlements.

In 1824 Mexico passed the Basic Law of Colonization, which allowed all heads of families, regardless of race or immigrant status, to claim land in Mexico. The Mexican government liberalized immigrant laws by allowing settlers from the United States to move into Texas.

This plan seemed extremely successful at first. The influx of settlers from the United States quickly resulted in more settlers than Hispanics on the land.

This situation did not frighten the Mexican government. The problems began in 1829, when slavery was abolished in Mexico. The settlers from the southern states of the United States used slave labor extensively, and they did not like such innovations.

Another cause for discontent was the imposition of restrictions on travel to Texas by the Mexican government, which was concerned about the influx of immigrants from the United States. The new customs restrictions between the U.S. and Mexico infuriated not only English-speaking Texans, but also Hispanics.

From peaceful protests to armed insurrection

The Texans’ discontent could have ended in mere verbal outrage, but just then, Mexico’s central government was mired in internecine conflict, resulting in Texans talking about independence.

As is often the case in such cases, at first the Texans’ demands were limited to an expansion of powers within Mexico: the preservation of slavery rights, the renewal of the right to immigrate from the United States to Texas, and the lifting of customs restrictions.

The 1833 Texan convention to the Mexican government also contained a demand for independence. One of the leaders of the Texans, Stephen Austin, who presented this document to the Mexican authorities, was imprisoned on charges of treason.

The situation was not in favor of the Mexican government: by 1834 there were more than 30,000 immigrants from the United States for fewer than 8,000 Spanish-speaking Mexicans in Texas, among whom there were also many dissatisfied federal authorities. Under these conditions, the only way to extinguish separatist sentiment was to negotiate, but Mexico City decided to act harshly.

The war for Texas independence began on October 2, 1835, with a clash at Gonzales.

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A detachment of government troops stationed in Texas attempted to seize a gun in the town of Gonzales that had previously been given to settlers for protection against Comanche raids. The settlers refused to comply, and the confrontation turned into a clash between a hundred Mexican soldiers and 140 settlers. The clash ended with minimal casualties, with one wounded on each side, but the gun remained in the hands of the Texans.

The battle was the first open armed action against Mexican President Antonio López de Santa Anna.

The triumph of the “separatists.”

The federal government threw its armed forces into the suppression of the separatists. The Texas militia was supported by volunteers coming from the United States, while the United States government claimed nonparticipation in the Mexican conflict.

On March 2, 1836, a declaration of Texas’ independence from Mexico was signed at Washington-on-the-Brazos, a meeting of representatives of American settlers (the Texas Convention). The document stated that the Mexican government had “ceased to protect the life, liberty, and property of the people from whom it had received its lawful authority,” and it criticized the authorities’ treatment of matters of religion, education, political rights, possession of arms, etc. As such, the people of Texas were taking their own destiny into their own hands.

In modern Texas, March 2 is celebrated as Independence Day.

Texas’ declaration of independence provoked another furious attempt by Mexican authorities to defeat the separatists. A series of bloody battles ensued, the decisive one being the Battle of San Jacinto on April 21, 1836. The Mexican army was defeated, and the “trophy” of the Texans was President Santa Anna himself, taken prisoner.

The captured Mexican leader had no choice but to sign an agreement to cease hostilities and withdraw Mexican troops from Texas.

On May 14, 1836, in Velasco City, Mexican President Antonio López de Santa Anna and Texas Interim President David Burnett signed an agreement by which Mexico recognized the de facto independence of Texas.

The treaty provided for the cessation of hostilities, the redeployment of Mexican troops south of the Rio Grande River, the return by Mexico of seized property, and a prisoner-of-war exchange; in exchange, Santa Anna was allowed to return to Mexico.

The president of the republic became the “American Strelkov.”

In fact, neither side fully implemented the treaty. Mexico refused to ratify it, saying that the captive president had no right to sign it. In turn, the Texans would not allow Santa Anna to return to Mexico. The line of demarcation between Texas and Mexico also remained unclear. Each side hoped to exploit this circumstance to its own advantage.

Nevertheless, in 1836, Texas had its own constitution, which provided for the right of slavery and a republican system. The first official president of Texas was Sam Houston, commander of the rebel army. An interesting point – before becoming president of independent Texas, Houston had a fairly successful political career in the United States, serving for two years as governor of Tennessee.

The large number of Houston-like Americans in the leadership and army of the rebels allowed Mexico to claim that what was happening in Texas was not the choice of the locals, but was caused by the hidden aggression of a neighboring state.

The Mexican army continued to raid Texas, hoping to regain full control of it.

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And Texans were faced with the question, “How do we live our lives?” Most residents of the young republic favored joining the United States; a minority supported building an independent power from the Atlantic to the Pacific.

The Road to America

The first official offer of accession of Texas to the USA to the President of the United States Martin Van Buren in 1837 was transferred by the adviser of embassy of Texas in the USA Memukan Hunt . But U.S. authorities rejected it – the prospect of open war with Mexico did not inspire Americans. Then the project was postponed for several years as opponents of annexation came to power in Texas.

The situation began to change after election in 1844 of the president of the USA of James Polk, the supporter of the further territorial expansion which separate item has been designated in the election program for annexation of Texas to the USA.

Relying on the support of public opinion, the administration of outgoing President John Tyler began consultations with Polk and developed a plan for annexation through a joint resolution. The resolution stated that Texas would be recognized as a state if the republic approved annexation before January 1, 1846, that the territory of the state could be divided into several states, up to five in number, and that the state lands of the republic would pass into the possession of Texas upon its formation. The United States Congress passed a joint resolution on February 28, 1845. Shortly thereafter, Andrew Jackson Donelson, the American attorney for Texas, presented the American resolution to President Anson Jones of the Republic of Texas. On July 4, 1845, the Texas Congress approved the version of the American proposed annexation with a single vote against, and began writing a constitution for Texas as a state of the United States. The citizens of Texas approved the new constitution and the annexation convention by popular vote on October 13, 1845. U.S. President James Polk signed the papers formally integrating Texas into the United States on December 29, 1845.

This accession procedure was questioned by many, and in 1901 the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling affirming the legality of accession by joint resolution.

Texas’ Special Status

Rick Perry, governor of the U.S. state of Texas.

As to Mexico, from its side the recognition of joining of Texas to the USA occurred after a shattering defeat in the American-Mexican war of 1846-1848 that finished for Mexico not only with a final loss of Texas, but also with the Upper California with New Mexico – on these territories then states New Mexico, Utah, Nevada, Arizona and California were formed.

During the Civil War, Texas, which had once left Mexico because it disagreed with the ban on slavery, was, of course, part of the Confederacy. The separation from the USA was formalized by a popular referendum on February 23, 1861: 46,129 people voted for it and 14,697 voted against it. This time, however, the liberty ended with a comeback: in 1870, the Congress re-incorporated Texas.

To this day, Texas has a special position among other American states. The powerful economic potential, comparable to that of the G-20 states, allows Texans to look at official Washington with indulgence. Today’s Texas does not yearn for independence, but it is not afraid of it either.

The Lone Star State’s citizens know their value, and they believe they will decide their own destiny, just as their ancestors once did.

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