A giant among states, vast Texas was once a sovereign nation. During 300 years of rule by Spain, it had sprawled like a sleeping giant, its riches undeveloped and its colonization limited to a few missions, supported by presidios (military posts). When Mexico became an independent country in 1821, Texas became a Mexican state and new settlers from the United States were welcomed. The large influx of Anglo-American colonists and African American slaves led to skirmishes with Mexican troops. After a successful war of independence against Mexico, the Texans raised the Lone Star flag over their own republic in 1836. This government was officially recognized by the United States and by several European countries. Then in 1845 Texas accepted annexation by the United States and was admitted to the Union as the 28th state.
Texas is second only to Alaska in area. It covers more territory than the total area of five Midwestern states, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Michigan. There are 254 counties in Texas. Its largest county, Brewster, is about as big as Connecticut and Rhode Island combined. Its smallest, Rockwall, is only 147 square miles (381 square kilometers) in area. For a time Texas had a peak mileage of more than 17,000 miles (27,358 kilometers) of main-track railroad, but the total has been declining ever since the 1930s. Cotton, first raised on the Blackland Prairies, has long been the most important crop of Texas. Much of it is now grown on the Great Plains, an achievement made possible by the discovery of a sandy, water-laden subsoil beneath the area’s dry surface. On the Rio Grande irrigation has given rise to a great fruit-growing belt, while along the Nueces River vegetable crops are harvested in an 11-month growing season. Texas leads the nation in beef production, an industry that began to flourish in 1866, when cowboys first drove wild longhorns north to market. Today scientifically bred cattle are raised on the plains.
gold,” or crude oil, was found in Texas in the 19th century, but it was the discovery of the gigantic east Texas oil field in 1930 that revolutionized the agrarian state. Although much of the wealth of modern Texas stems from its widespread petroleum-bearing oil wells, industry in general has become increasingly diversified since the end of World War II. The name Texas comes from a Caddo Indian word meaning “friends” or “allies.” The Spanish explorers pronounced the word tejas and gave this name to the area. The nickname Lone Star State comes from the single star in the Texas flag, which was officially adopted by the Republic of Texas in 1839. The Texas and Hawaii flags are the only state emblems that originally flew over recognized independent countries.
The location of Texas, the Lone Star State, stretches across the south-central region of the United States. Its southwestern and southern boundary is formed by the Rio Grande. Across the river are the Mexican states of Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo Leуn, and Tamaulipas. On the southeast Texas borders on the Gulf of Mexico for 367 miles (591 kilometers). To the east are Louisiana and Arkansas, with the Sabine River forming the boundary with Louisiana for 180 miles (290 kilometers). To the north is Oklahoma, with the Red River providing the boundary line for 480 miles (772 kilometers). New Mexico is to the west. The Lone Star State is both longer and wider than any other state except Alaska. Its greatest length, from north to south, is 801 miles (1,289 kilometers), a figure that includes the Panhandle, which extends north of the upper Red River for about 133 miles (214 kilometers). The state’s greatest width is 773 miles (1,244 kilometers). Both of the overall distances are greater than the airline mileage between New York City and Chicago. The area of the state is 266,807 square miles (691,027 square kilometers), including 4,790 square miles (12,406 square kilometers) of inland water surface.
Texas has a wide variety in its geology, minerals, soils, vegetation, and wildlife. Its elevation ranges from sea level along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico to 8,751 feet (2,667 meters) at Guadalup The Gulf Coastal Plain covers southern and eastern Texas and includes about 40 percent of the state’s area. Along the coast are many long barrier beaches, such as Padre Island, separated from the mainland by lagoons. Galveston is the largest of the bays. The plain extends 150 to 250 miles (240 to 400 kilometers) inland to a series of hills that sweep across Texas from Denison on the Red River to Del Rio on the Rio Grande. The western part of this line (between Austin and Del Rio) is called the Balcones Escarpment. The Gulf Coastal Plain may be divided into five distinct sections. They are the Rio Grande plain in the south, the coastal prairies (from the San Antonio River to the Sabine River), the Pine Belt, or Piney Woods from the Louisiana line westward about 100 miles (160 kilometers),followed by the Post Oak Belt, west of the Pine Belt, and last but not least the Blackland Prairies, along the western edge of the Gulf Coastal Plain from the Red River to a point near San Antonio, Guadalupe Peak in Culberson County.
Within the state are four large natural regions. The Central Lowland covers the eastern edge of the Panhandle and the north-central part of the state. It extends southward to include Fort Worth, Abilene, and Colorado City.
The eastern part of this region includes the Grand, or Fort Worth, Prairie, sandwiched between the East and West Cross Timbers belts. The remainder of the Central Lowland consists of rolling plains. The Great Plains extend over most of the Panhandle and west-central and central Texas. This vast tableland ranges in elevation from 2,500 to 4,700 feet (760 to 1,430 meters). In the Panhandle are the High Plains, or Llano Estacado (Staked Plain), a dry, flat, treeless area. To the east the central Texas section extends almost as far as Waco and Austin. The southeastern extension of the Great Plains is the Edwards Plateau. Across the lower Pecos River the plain continues westward as the Stockton Plateau. This section is sometimes called the Trans-Pecos. The Basin and Range Region covers the extreme western part of the state. It has a series of rugged mountain ranges and dry, sandy basins. In Hudspeth County is the Diablo Plateau, or Bolston, between the Guadalupe and Hueco mountains. In a southward loop of the Rio Grande is a rugged area that includes Big Bend National Park. The Chisos Mountains lie within the park. Thousands of acres in the upper Rio Grande valley near El Paso are irrigated from Elephant Butte Reservoir in New Mexico. Most of the rivers of Texas flow in a southeasterly direction into the Gulf of Mexico. From the state’s eastern border to its western border, the largest of these rivers are the Sabine, Neches, Trinity, Brazos, Colorado (of Texas), Guadalupe, San Antonio, Nueces, and Rio Grande with its chief branch, the Pecos.
The northern edge of the state lies in the Mississippi River basin. Within this section are the Canadian River, which flows across the Panhandle, and the Red River, on the Texas-Oklahoma border.
The climate of Texas has three main types. A narrow strip along the coast has a marine climate tempered by winds from the Gulf of Mexico. Here temperatures are fairly uniform, with pleasant summers and mild winters. The Gulf coast area, from Brownsville northward, can experience severe ocean-borne storms, including destructive hurricanes. The mountain climate of western Texas brings dry, clear days with dramatic dips in temperature at nightfall. The rest of the state has a continental and subtropical climate with cool winters and very hot summers. Quick temperature changes are common in this area.
The warmest part of the state is the lower Rio Grande valley, which has an average annual temperature of 90°F (+35° C).
The coldest is the northwest Panhandle, with a 54° F (12° C) average. Average annual precipitation (rain and melted snow) varies from 58 inches (147 centimeters) in the extreme eastern par
t of the state to less than 10 inches (25 centimeters) near El Paso. In most parts of the state, the greatest amount of rainfall occurs between April and July and is especially heavy during May. Snowfall is generally limited to the northern plains area, where it averages about 15 inches (38 centimeters) annually. Natural Resources Texas has a rich supply of natural resources.
The eastern part of the state is a productive farming region with fertile soil and ample rainfall. Where western Texas can be irrigated, it has huge grazing areas and valuable cropland. Almost 10 percent of the state is forested. The largest amount of timber is in eastern Texas, where the forest area extends over 43 counties. The chief commercial trees are several varieties of pine and oak, elm, hickory, magnolia, sweet gum, black gum, and tupelo. The mineral resources, led by petroleum, are the most valuable in the nation. The major commercial advantages of the state are its excellent ports for trade with Central and South America. The Gulf coast yields valuable catches of shrimp. The chief conservation problem is the maintenance of an adequate water supply, particularly in western Texas and in the large urban and industrial centers. Since 1930 many dams have been built to provide flood control, power, and irrigation. Today about one fourth of the reservoirs have a storage capacity of more than 100,000 acre-feet each. The largest is Toledo Bend, on the Sabine River. Next in size are Amistad, on the Rio Grande, and Sam Rayburn, on the Angelina. Other large projects include Lake Texoma, formed by Denison Dam, on the Red River and Falcon Reservoir, on the Rio Grande. Amistad and Falcon serving both the United States and Mexico. The Texas Water Commission administers water rights and control. There are also many separate river authorities and water districts. Timber conservation is directed by the Texas Forest Service, a division of Texas A&M University. Wildlife is protected by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. The federal Department of the Interior maintains 11 national wildlife refuges, including the Aransas refuge, along the coast. Regarding the people of Texas, the early Native American residents of Texas were the Caddo in the southeast, the Tonkawa in the southwest, and the Atakapa and Karankawa along the coast.
Later the Comanche moved into central and western Texas from the north. Fierce Plains Indians, the Comanche were not brought under outside control until about 1875. This action opened the Panhandle and the western plains to settlement.
During the early days of Spanish rule, Texas attracted few new settlers other than missionaries. By 1806 the population was no more than 7,000. After the establishment of a colony of Anglo-Americans by Stephen Fuller Austin in 1821, similar settlers came in increasing numbers. Many came from the South, bringing slaves with them. Later, newcomers arrived from the East and Midwest. Today most of the migration into Texas comes from Oklahoma, Louisiana, and Arkansas. Of the Texas-born people living in other states, the largest number are in California. Texas has more than 3 million people of Hispanic origin, most of whom are concentrated along the Rio Grande and in southern Texas. The state also has more than 2 million African Americans, chiefly in the south and east. Almost 6 percent of the people are foreign born – mainly emigrants from Mexico. The population also includes about 50,000 Native Americans and about 39,000 people of Chinese and Japanese descent.
Texas has 16 cities with a population of more than 100,000. The largest is Houston, a financial and industrial center. The city is connected to Galveston Bay by the 52-mile (84-kilometer) Houston Ship Channel, along which is one of the world’s greatest concentrations of industry. With the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) nearby the area is also a focus of the space industry.
Dallas, the second largest city, is a fashion, insurance, and finance center. Third in size is the historic city of San Antonio, home of the famous mission turned military post, the Alamo, and the chief trade center of southern Texas. Nearby are four bases of the United States Air Force, Brooks, Kelly, Lackland, and Randolph.
Located on the Rio Grande, El Paso serves as a busy gateway to Mexico and is the chief trade center of western Texas. West of Dallas is Fort Worth, a noted livestock and grain market. Austin, the sixth largest city, is the state capital and is located in the south-central part of Texas, having developed according to plans laid out in 1839. The next largest city in the state is Corpus Christi, a year-round resort and deepwater port located on the Gulf of Mexico. Lubbock, the commercial hub of a rich cotton-growing area in the Great Plains, and Amarillo are the chief cities of the Panhandle. Beaumont, the chief city of the Sabine-Neches industrial area in the extreme southeast, is noted for its shipments of petroleum. Waco is an agricultural and industrial center on the Brazos River about halfway between Dallas and Austin. Between Dallas and Fort Worth is Arlington, an industrial and commercial center for the automotive and aerospace industries. Wichita Falls is a petroleum center in north-central Texas. Galveston, a cotton – and sulfur-shipping port on the Gulf of Mexico, also boasts a flourishing tourism industry. About manufacturing, in 1900 the two leading manufacturing industries in Texas were lumber and grain processing. Since that time there has been a rapid increase in the number and types of manufacturing plants.
During World War II the value of Texas manufacturing quadrupled. The manufacturing value today exceeds 53 billion dollars. Texas is the chief manufacturing state in the South, and the value of its manufacturing is surpassed only by that of California among the states west of the Mississippi River. Most of the increase in industry has been due to the rise of petroleum refining, which followed the discovery of the great Spindletop oil field in 1901 and has become the most important industry in Texas.
Texas now refines more petroleum than any other state. Ranked second is the manufacture of chemicals and allied products, which includes organic chemicals and plastics. The third most important industry is food processing. This includes meat-packing and the preparation of bakery goods, flour and meal, and soft drinks. Fourth in importance is tourism.
As for farm income, Texas is the first among the Southern states and second or third in the nation. The annual cash income from Texas agricultural products, estimated at about 9 billion dollars, is usually surpassed only by the agricultural income of California, and sometimes Iowa.
Texas has about 160,000 farms, more than any other state. Some farms contain thousands of acres. The average size is about 838 acres (339 hectares). Texas leads all the states in the production of cotton, cattle, wool, and sorghum grain. Irrigation is a major factor in crop production. Much of the irrigated land is in the High Plains. Other large irrigated areas are the lower Rio Grande valley, the Coastal Prairies, the Pecos Valley, and the Rio Grande Plain. Livestock and related products usually account for more than half the yearly farm income. Crops account for the rest. Texas leads nationally in the number of cattle, horses, sheep, and lambs. Cattle ranks in value as the most important commodity in almost every Texas county. The state chief cash crop is cotton.
Texas leads the nation in cotton lint and cottonseed. The major producing counties are Gaines, Dawson, Terry, Cameron, and Martin. Sorghum grain is usually second in value. Wheat grown for grain is the third most valuable crop, as the Panhandle is noted for its wheat.
Wheat grown for grain is the third most valuable crop, as the Panhandle is noted for its wheat.
Corn ranks fourth in value. Other farm products are milk, eggs, chickens, hay, pigs, peanuts, rice, turkeys, wool, oats, and mohair. Texas ranks among the top five sta
tes in the production of broomcorn, flaxseed, grapefruit and oranges, pecans, sweet clover seed, sweet potatoes, carrots, and onions.
The mineral resources of Texas yield an annual value of about 45 billion dollars, more than that of any other state. Most of the income is derived from petroleum, in which Texas leads the nation. The East Texas field is one of the most productive in the world. Top producing counties in Texas are Pecos, Yoakum, Gaines, Ector, and Gregg. Gregg was the first county to produce more than 2 billion barrels of petroleum ever since records have been kept. The second and third most valuable minerals are natural gas and coal. Pipelines carry natural gas, as well as petroleum, from Texas to all sections of the country. Texas is one of the nation’ s chief sources of helium, with much of the production centered at Amarillo, Exell, and Dumas. Cement is fourth in importance. Texas ranks among the leading cement-producing states. The Gulf Coastal Plain is one of the nation ‘s richest sources of sulfur. Magnesium is processed from seawater at Freeport’s electrolytic plant. Among other minerals produced in the state are stone, sand and gravel, lime, salt, and gypsum.
With respect to transportation, because of its huge size, Texas has had to develop a vast network of transportation routes by road, rail, water, and air. The Texas Department of Highways and Public Transportation, established in 1917, maintains about 71,000 miles (114,260 kilometers) of state roads. In addition to the state roads and dozens of federal routes, a number of highways in the Interstate system cross Texas. Interstates 10, 20, and 40 are major east-west routes. Crossing parts of Texas from north to south are Interstates 35, 45, and 27. Interstate 30 runs northeastward from Dallas. The first railroad in Texas was a 20-mile (32-kilometer) line in the Houston area that was completed in 1853. Transcontinental service became a reality in 1881, when the Southern Pacific linked the state with California. Today Texas is served by a statewide network of railroads and by a number of major airlines. The Dallas-Fort Worth Regional Airport is the nation’s largest in terms of land area and one of the busiest. Thirteen deepwater ports handle shipments of petroleum products, cotton, and wheat. Routes of travel are the Intracoastal Waterway (extending eastward from Brownsville) and the Gulf of Mexico. The Houston Ship Channel, which opened in 1915, has helped make that city one of the greatest United States ports. The other major ports are Port Arthur, Beaumont, Texas City, Corpus Christi, Port Aransas, and Galveston.
Regarding recreation, in an average year Texas is visited by more than 40 million tourists.
One of the chief attractions is the rugged land of mountains and canyons in the Trans-Pecos. This region includes Big Bend National Park and Guadalupe Mountains National Park. Palo Duro Canyon cuts a 1000 foot/300 meter-deep slash through the high plains of the Texas Panhandle. The Gulf coast has many fine beaches and resorts. Near Kingsville in south Texas is King Ranch, one of the largest in the world. East Texas boasts more than 11 million acres (4.5 million hectares) of woodlands, including four national forests. San Antonio is famous for the Alamo and San Antonio Missions National Historical Park. Dallas hosts the state fair each October and the Cotton Bowl football game on New Year’s Day. In Arlington are Six Flags Over Texas, an amusement park styled after the American West, and the home stadium of the Texas Rangers professional baseball team. In professional football, the Dallas Cowboys play in Texas Stadium, in Irving, and the Houston Oilers play in the famous Astrodome, also home of baseball’s Houston Astros. There are three Texas basketball teams: the Dallas Mavericks, the Houston Rockets, and the San Antonio Spurs.
As for education, the first schools in the Texas region were informal classes for Native Americans held at the missions of Spanish priests. There were only a few private schools in the area at the time of the Texas declaration of independence in 1836. One of the republic’s charges against Mexico was that it had “failed to establish any public system of education.” In 1839 the Republic of Texas began setting aside public land for education. An act establishing a state school system was passed in 1854. A permanent school fund was established with a grant of 2 million dollars, and provision was made for setting up school districts. In 1949 the Gilmer-Aikin laws reorganized the public school system to equalize educational opportunities. Common school districts were consolidated from more than 3,000 to fewer than 1,000. The largest of the state schools is the University of Texas, located in Austin, with branches at Arlington, Dallas, El Paso, Odessa, San Antonio, and Tyler. It also has health science centers at Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio, oncology centers at Houston and Bastrop County, a health center at Tyler, and a medical branch at Galveston.
The divisions of the Texas A&M University System are located at College Station, Prairie View, Stephenville, and Galveston.
Some of the other state-supported institutions are Lamar University, at Beaumont; Midwestern State University, at Wichita Falls; Pan American University, at Edinburg; Texas Southern University, at Houston; the University of Houston, also at Houston, with branches at Houston (Clear Lake City, Downtown College branches) and Victoria; Texas Tech University, at Lubbock; and Texas Woman’s University, at Denton. Other large institutions include Southern Methodist University, at Dallas; Texas Christian University, at Fort Worth; Baylor University, at Waco; St. Mary’s University of San Antonio, at San Antonio; Abilene Christian University, at Abilene; Trinity University, at San Antonio; Rice University, at Houston; and Texas Wesleyan College, at Fort Worth.
Regarding government and politics under Mexican rule, Texas was governed first from Saltillo and then from Monclova (both in Mexico).
In 1835-36 one or more governmental functions were carried on at San Felipe de Austin, Washington on the Brazos, Harrisburg, Galveston, Velasco, and Columbia. Houston served as the capital in 1837-39; Austin, in 1839-42; and Washington on the Brazos, in 1842-45. Austin has remained the state capital since 1845. Texas is governed under its fifth constitution, which was adopted in 1876. The chief executive officer of the state is the governor, who is elected every four years. The legislative branch consists of the Senate and the House of Representatives. Heading the state judiciary is the Supreme Court and Court of Criminal Appeals. The Democratic party dominated Texas politics from the beginning of statehood, with only occasional exceptions, until the 1970s.
Sam Houston was elected governor as an independent in 1859, and Republicans were elected in 1870 and 1979. Likewise, in presidential elections Texas voted Democratic in every election after the American Civil War until 1928 and again until the 1950s. In recent years the Republican party has been gaining strength. A Dallas oil-drilling contractor, William Clements, was elected governor in 1978 and reelected in 1986, the first Republican to head the state since Reconstruction. John N. Garner of Uvalde was the nation’s first vice-president from Texas (1933-41). Dwight D. Eisenhower, who served from 1953 to 1961, was the first Texas-born president. Vice-President Lyndon B. Johnson of Johnson City became the second president from Texas on Nov. 22, 1963, after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy while riding in a Dallas motorcade. The governor of Texas, John B. Connally, who was riding in the same car as President Kennedy, was wounded. Johnson took the oath of office as president immediately after Kennedy’ s death; and, he was later elected president in 1964. George Bush Sr. was a resident of Texas when he was elected vice-president in 1980 and 1984 and when he was elected president in 1988. Sam Rayburn of Bonham holds the record for length of service as speaker of the Uni
ted States House of Representatives, 17 years, beginning in 1940. One of the first African American women to serve in Congress, and the first from the Deep South, was Barbara Jordan of Houston, first elected in 1972. The wife of a former governor of Texas, who had been impeached, Miriam A. Ferguson was the second American woman (by two weeks) to serve as a governor (1925-27 and 1933-35). More than any other state, Texas has elected women to high political offices in several of its cities.
In the 1980s women were elected to the top post in Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, Corpus Christi, and El Paso. In 1990 another woman, Ann Richards, was narrowly-elected governor of the state.
Regarding the history of Texas, Six national flags have flown over Texas during its colorful history. The first was Spain’s banner, from 1519 to 1685. In 1685 the French explorer La Salle raised the French flag over a short-lived coastal colony. In 1691 Texas again came under the Spanish flag, which was replaced by the banner of Mexico in 1821. From 1836 to 1845 the Lone Star banner flew over the Republic of Texas. The Stars and Stripes became the official flag in 1845, but during the American Civil War, from 1861 to 1865, it was replaced by the Confederate flag. The first European to visit what is now Texas was Alonso Alvarez de Pineda, who mapped the coast in 1519. Cabeza de Vaca, a Spanish noble, was the first to explore the area. Shipwrecked near what is now Galveston in 1528, he was captured by the Karankawa Indians and traveled with them for eight years before escaping. In 1541 Francisco Coronado crossed the Panhandle in search of gold. Later, parties of Spaniards camped in the wilderness, but they left no settlements. The French explorer La Salle missed the mouth of the Mississippi River in 1685 and sailed into Matagorda Bay. He pushed inland and built Fort St. Louis, which two years later was wiped out by Native Americans already living in the area. Fear of French influence hurried the Spanish into extending missions into eastern Texas. By 1800 some 25 missions and a number of presidios had been built in Texas. The missions had little success in converting the Native Americans to the alien Spanish culture and failed to attract settlers. A 1795 census found 69 families in San Antonio. The few additional families were mainly at what are now Goliad and Nacogdoches.
After the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, the United States regarded eastern Texas as its territory. Spain refused to recognize the claim and won control of about 96,000 square miles (248,639 square kilometers) through the Adams-Onнs Treaty of 1819. After Mexico gained its independence from Spain, this boundary (the Sabine River and northward) was confirmed by a treaty with the United States. The way to American settlement was opened when Moses Austin of Connecticut won Spain’s consent to settle 300 Anglo-American families in Texas. His son, Stephen F. Austin, is called the father of Texas because he brought the first group of colonists to the lower Brazos River in December 1821. The capital of the settlement was established at San Felipe de Austin, in present Austin County, in 1823. Mexico made additional land grants to other settlers. Drawn by an abundance of public lands where corn and cotton grew, whites from the South and Southwest and their black slaves swelled the population. As immigration into Texas from the United States increased, however, Mexico grew more hostile. Resentment flared in 1826 when American promoters set up the short-lived Fredonian republic at Nacogdoches. By 1830 the population of Texas had grown to nearly 25,000, and further American immigration, including the importation of African American slaves, was forbidden. Disputes with Mexico increased.
After Santa Anna became the dictator of Mexico, the Texans revolted. The first open battle was fought at Gonzales on Oct. 2, 1835.
With respect to the origin of the Republic of Texas, The Texans held a convention at Washington on the Brazos and adopted a declaration of independence on March 2, 1836. A constitution modeled after that of the United States was adopted by the new Republic of Texas. The most striking event in the Texas war for independence was the heroic defense of the Alamo in San Antonio. A rebuilt mission, the Alamo was used as a fort by about 180 Americans. After a siege of 12 days by several thousand Mexican soldiers under Santa Anna, the Alamo fell on March 6, 1836, and the garrison was wiped out. Later in the month the Mexicans massacred James Fannin and more than 300 Texas prisoners at Goliad. “Remember the Alamo” and “Remember Goliad” became Texas war cries. Independence was won after Gen. Sam Houston defeated Santa Anna on the banks of the San Jacinto River near Houston on April 21, 1836. In September Sam Houston was elected president of the republic. The new nation was hemmed in by the Indian frontier from the Red River to the hostile Mexican border along the Rio Grande. These threats led to the development of the famous Texas Rangers, expert horsemen and marksmen. The Rangers, the oldest state police force in the United States, are now a branch of the Department of Public Safety. From 1836 to 1845 the public debt grew from 1 million to 8 million dollars. Many believed that the future development of Texas would be greater under the United States. In 1844 a convention voted for annexation and a state constitution was adopted.
The proposed annexation brought a bitter fight in the United States over the question of slavery. Finally, on Dec. 29, 1845, Texas was admitted to the Union. The state kept its public lands and reserved the right to divide into no more than five states. Disputes with Mexico over boundary lines led to the Mexican War in 1846. The United States victory in the conflict two years later established the Rio Grande as the international border as far as El Paso. In 1850 Congress purchased from Texas for 10 million dollars the claim of that state to some 100,000 square miles (259,000 square kilometers) of land, now part of New Mexico, Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado, and Wyoming. Just before the outbreak of the American Civil War, slaveholding Texas seceded from the Union and joined the Confederacy. Governor Sam Houston tried to keep the state in the Union but was deposed.
Texas was readmitted in 1870 In the mid-1860s Texas cowboys began driving cattle northward to markets or ranges. Some of their famous cattle trails were the Chisholm, Western (Dodge City), Goodnight-Loving, and Sedalia trails. More than 11 million cattle were herded up these trails before the introduction of railroads into the area. These cowboys were the inspiration for many dozens of Western novels and films. Yet in spite of all the Western lore celebrating the cowboy in song, story, art, and film, the era of the great cattle drives was short. It was virtually over by 1890, only 20 years after it began.
Much of the history of modern Texas is connected with the development of the oil industry. In 1901 Anthony F. Lucas struck oil in the Spindletop field, near Beaumont. Other great strikes included those of East Texas, the richest of all, in 1930. Others were in Scurry County, in 1949, and Spraberry Field, near Midland, in 1950. The state especially benefited from the expansion of the industry, and its associated petrochemicals, after World War II. In 1960 Texas won a 15-year political and legal struggle for title to the offshore oil in its Gulf of Mexico tidelands. A Supreme Court decision gave the state mineral rights in an area extending three leagues, about 10 1/2 miles (17 kilometers) offshore. In 1963 the United States ended a border dispute with Mexico by agreeing to exchange land in the Laredo area. The dispute began about 100 years earlier, when the channel of the Rio Grande shifted. HemisFair ’68, the first international exposition in a Southwestern state, was held at San Antonio.
Massive oil spills from tankers have periodically devastated the Texas shoreline. In October 1989 and, nine months later, in July 1990, there were major fatal accidents at two Texas pet
rochemical plants within 10 miles (16 kilometers) of each other, near Houston.