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Texans: Best History of the Admission of Texas?


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#1 of 25 Dennis Nicholls

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Posted February 12 2009 - 04:17 AM

Maybe some of you Texans can help me here.

I'd like to be pointed towards a historical reference discussing the nitty-gritty details of the admission of Texas to the Union. I'm not interested in culture, parties, speeches, etc., but rather the legislative steps towards admission. For example, I have heard that Texas was offered admission to the Union in an act of Congress permitting Texas to enter as from 1 to 5 states, but that Texas decided to come in as a single large state (forfeiting up to 8 Senators!). Why was this decision taken?

I'm also interested in a discussion about what was different about the admission of Texas, since it entered the Union as an independent country as opposed to a former territory of the US.
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#2 of 25 Jay Taylor

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Posted February 15 2009 - 12:48 PM

Dennis, here's a link to a Wikipedia article on the Republic of Texas. Scroll down to "Statehood". The article contains numerous links to reference material on the subject.

Republic of Texas - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Here's a portion of the article that I found particularly interesting:

Quote:
The annexation resolution has been the topic of some historical myths—one that remains is that the resolution granted Texas the explicit right to secede from the Union. This was a right argued by some to be implicitly held by all states at the time, up until the conclusion of the Civil War.

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#3 of 25 Dennis Nicholls

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Posted February 15 2009 - 01:58 PM

Jay,

That's a help but there's a problem or two.

Quote:
The original controversy about the legality of the annexation of Texas stems from the fact that Congress approved the annexation of Texas as a territory with a simple majority vote approval. However, Texas was an independent republic before it was annexed, and Congress would need a two-thirds majority to annex another country.[citation needed] Because the two-thirds majority was virtually impossible, Congress annexed the state as a territory.

That "citation needed" is a problem. I'm trying to write a book and a rule these days is "thou shalt not cite to wikipedia". But I can take a look at the bibliography therein.
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#4 of 25 Adam Lenhardt

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Posted February 15 2009 - 07:11 PM

A quick read of the constitution would seem to contradict that. The only language addressing the admission of new states into the union comes in Article IV:
Article IV, Section. 3.New States may be admitted by the Congress into this Union; but no new State shall be formed or erected within the Jurisdiction of any other State; nor any State be formed by the Junction of two or more States, or Parts of States, without the Consent of the Legislatures of the States concerned as well as of the Congress.

The Congress shall have Power to dispose of and make all needful Rules and Regulations respecting the Territory or other Property belonging to the United States; and nothing in this Constitution shall be so construed as to Prejudice any Claims of the United States, or of any particular State.

However, I think I read somewhere that Texas was forced to give up control over its coastal waters upon admission, because the other coastal states didn't control their off-shore waters.

#5 of 25 Dennis Nicholls

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Posted February 28 2009 - 09:17 AM

I spent some time with a pile of Texas history books down at the Boise State U library last week. I checked out what appears to be the best history on the admission: Slavery and the Annexation of Texas by Frederick Merk. LOC # F 390 .M55 (1972). Merk was the Gurney Professor (Emeritus) of American History at Harvard.

As far as I've read it the case is made that the US move was in response to British offers to extend loans (on very favorable terms) to "buy out" the slaves if Texas banned slavery. Southerners - including President Tyler - hit the panic button, and pushed to annex and then admit Texas as a state. Texas had survived a decade after independence as an independent republic since the US thought annexing Texas would lead to another war with Mexico. Mexico thought an independent Texas could always be reconquered at some later date: US annexation would cut this off.
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#6 of 25 ChristopherDAC

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Posted March 01 2009 - 05:38 PM

That's an interesting hypothesis, but it may not place enough emphasis on the considerable pro-annexation sentiment which existed in both Texas & the United States. A history of the Revolution of '36, for example, will show that the Federal commander in Louisiana mobilized against Santa Anna, using as a pretext a theory which placed the border considerably to the west of the line accepted in diplomacy between Texas & the USA. Both for the considerable economic advantages, & for the military security, annexation was a major goal of the foreign policy of the Republic. I would suggest looking up Houston's appeal to the secession conference of '61, reminding them of the great lengths to which Texas went to secure its membership in the Union & the strong motives behind it.

This is not to pretend that the slavery issue was not a live one, or that there were not forces in the USA promoting the annexation as a state of any piece of territory where they could introduce the slave system, but Texas was a very different case from the usual targets of the 'filibusters'.
If you will inquire into the economic situation of the Republic, you will understand why "British offers to extend loans on very favourable terms" could be an extremely powerful incentive. The problem of refunding the considerable debt contracted during the Revolution & later on for outfitting the Navy & various other purposes was a vital one, & one which ended up being part of the annexation settlement. Texas is no longer alone in history as the only country ever to issue only paper money and no coins, but it remains unique to my knowledge in having completely retired its issue of paper.

I believe an inquiry into the case will reveal that Texas retains rights over territorial waters. The Federal claim takes precedence, but due to an old conflict between Spanish and English legal theories, the State claim extends out farther (or did — things are changing, especially with the Law of the Sea Treaty), creating an anomalous zone belonging to Texas but not to the USA. (And don't get a Texan started on Spanish land grants… )

#7 of 25 Dennis Nicholls

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Posted March 13 2009 - 04:44 AM

I've finished the book by Merk and it's quite a good read. It appears that the notion of British intervention may have just been a "red herring" after all.

The other good book - and one Merk uses too - is The Annexation of Texas by Justin H. Smith. LOC #F 390.S647 (1911) Smith's book has some good background on the odd fact that Texas may have been a portion of the original Louisiana Purchase land, later traded to Spain for Florida. The description of what we bought from France in 1803 was somewhat sketchy.

But Merk's book is much more helpful in my case since it specifically deals with the issues of the constitutionality of annexation by treaty vs. by statute.

What I learned is that Texas was first annexed as a territory then a few months later admitted as a state.
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#8 of 25 Chris Lockwood

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Posted March 13 2009 - 08:55 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jay Taylor
The annexation resolution has been the topic of some historical myths—one that remains is that the resolution granted Texas the explicit right to secede from the Union. This was a right argued by some to be implicitly held by all states at the time

And I still believe they all have that right- if a state joined the union voluntarily, why can't it leave voluntarily?

"Civil War" is not a valid answer to that, BTW. Just because some states didn't recognize the other states' right to leave does not mean that right doesn't exist.

BTW, I'm told that Texas was not "admitted to the union"- Texas annexed the US.

#9 of 25 Jay Taylor

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Posted March 13 2009 - 10:32 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Lockwood
And I still believe they all have that right- if a state joined the union voluntarily, why can't it leave voluntarily?

I'm with you Chris! But I'd rather not discuss the repercussions or we'd tread into unallowed discussions on this forum. Posted Image
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#10 of 25 Dennis Nicholls

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Posted March 13 2009 - 11:58 AM

Heck I'd much rather watch an argument over which is worth more: Florida or Texas. Posted Image
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#11 of 25 Adam Lenhardt

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Posted March 13 2009 - 03:45 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Lockwood
And I still believe they all have that right- if a state joined the union voluntarily, why can't it leave voluntarily?

"Civil War" is not a valid answer to that, BTW. Just because some states didn't recognize the other states' right to leave does not mean that right doesn't exist.
Yes it is. Some powers are defined in the courts, and some powers are defined on the battlefield. Eleven Southern U.S. states felt they had the legal power to succede from the Union and sought to exercise that right. The executive authority of the United States felt differently and went to war over the issue. When Lee surrendered to Grant at Appomattox, the Confederate states effectively fell back into ranks and accepted the opinion of the United States executive on the matter. Whatever other powers are still reserved to the states, the power to unilaterally withdraw from the union is not one of them.

...At least until the next war over the matter.

#12 of 25 Chris Lockwood

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Posted March 15 2009 - 09:05 AM

Sorry, Adam, I don't buy that argument.

If the US invaded and annexed Canada, would that make it legal, as long as the Canadians were unable to stop it?

#13 of 25 Adam Lenhardt

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Posted March 15 2009 - 11:43 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Lockwood
If the US invaded and annexed Canada, would that make it legal, as long as the Canadians were unable to stop it?
Apples and oranges. Each of the fifty states joined the union voluntarily.

#14 of 25 Dennis Nicholls

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Posted March 15 2009 - 01:57 PM

The US invaded Canada on two occasions IIRC. Both times the Canucks whipped our ass. We haven't tried again since around 1814 or thereabouts.

After the Civil War, the southern states were made an offer to rejoin the Union. The alternative was continued military government. All they had to do was ratify the 13th and 14th Amendments, and then they could rejoin. All would be forgiven to a large extent.

Actually I'm working on a book in which Canada does voluntarily join the Union. Of course, this takes place after the UK joins the Union as a half-dozen states.
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#15 of 25 Francois Caron

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Posted March 15 2009 - 04:03 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dennis Nicholls
Actually I'm working on a book in which Canada does voluntarily join the Union.
Including Québec? Posted Image

#16 of 25 Dennis Nicholls

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Posted March 15 2009 - 08:06 PM

I'll have to let you buy my book when it comes out...I'm not posting too many spoilers here.

Quote:
would that make it legal

To quote Theodore Roosevelt, "why spoil the beauty of a thing with legality?" Much of expansionist US policy was probably extra-legal when it comes right down to it. Jefferson was quite concerned about the Constitutionality of the Louisiana Purchase, but he went ahead with it anyway. The Texas example is another. Should annexation be by treaty, negotiated by the Executive branch and with 2/3 Senate concurrance (Art. II sec. 2 para. 2), or by statute as a purely Legislative exercise (Art. IV, sec. 3, para. 1)? Tyler tried a treaty but lost the Senate vote, so then plan B was a statute that only required a 50% majority in Congress.

(Strictly speaking there's a real constitutional question over West Virginia, whose admission clearly doesn't comport with Art. IV, sec. 3, para. 1.)

I'm actually convinced that a treaty of annexation is the wrong way to go when dealing with a sovereign state. A treaty between countries A and B over territory C makes sense in that both A and B remain in existance to enforce the treaty. But a treaty between countries A and B over territory B makes no sense: country B ceases to exist and thus a "treaty" becomes a nullity.

The real treaty that cemented Texas as a state was the peace treaty between the US and Mexico at the end of the Mexican War of 1846-1848.
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#17 of 25 Kevin Hewell

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Posted March 15 2009 - 08:40 PM

Quote:
The real treaty that cemented Texas as a state was the peace treaty between the US and Mexico at the end of the Mexican War of 1846-1848.

Can't argue with that.

Now pass over some of that good Tex-Mex food.

#18 of 25 Dennis Nicholls

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Posted March 15 2009 - 09:01 PM

Quote:
that good Tex-Mex food.

Oy veh. That's as political a topic as which state has real BBQ. You want to get us both banned? Posted Image
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#19 of 25 Chris Lockwood

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Posted March 16 2009 - 05:12 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Adam Lenhardt
Apples and oranges. Each of the fifty states joined the union voluntarily.

My comment was valid since the other person's point was that whatever happens in war is OK.

I'm the one saying the states joined the union voluntarily, so why can't they leave voluntarily? Still waiting for an answer to that.

#20 of 25 Jay Taylor

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Posted March 16 2009 - 08:09 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dennis Nicholls
Actually I'm working on a book in which Canada does voluntarily join the Union. Of course, this takes place after the UK joins the Union as a half-dozen states.

Quote:
Including Québec? Posted Image

Imagine what the phone menus will be:

Press 1 for American Slang
Press 2 for Queen's English
Press 3 for Cockney
Press 4 for Spanish
Press 5 for French
Press 6 for Canadian, Eh?
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