How did Texas become a state?

The new Republic of Texas asked to be annexed to the United States as early as 1837. The governments of Presidents Andrew Jackson and Martin Van Buren took no action for two reasons. First, the question of Texas annexation divided the North and South. Up to the 1840s, trans-Mississippi expansion had extended Southern society: Louisiana, Arkansas, and Missouri were all slave states. Texas would be another, and Northerners who disliked slavery and Southern political power imagined that the Texas territory could become as many as 11 new slave states with 22 new pro slavery senators. Annexation of Texas was certain to arouse Northern and antislavery opposition. President John Tyler, who supported the South, tried to annex Texas in 1844 but was defeated by congressional Northerners and by some Southern members of the anti-Jacksonian Whig Party. The second reason for avoiding annexation was that Mexico still considered Texas its own territory. Annexation would create a diplomatic crisis, and perhaps lead to war.

In the presidential election of 1844 the Whig Party nominated Henry Clay of Kentucky. Clay refused to take a stand on the annexation of Texas. The Democrats rejected former president Martin Van Buren, who opposed annexation, and nominated James K. Polk of Tennessee. Polk ran on a pro-annexation platform: He would annex Texas, and he would assert American ownership of all of Oregon's territory disputed with Britain. Polk's position on Oregon was intended to reassure Northerners that expansion would benefit them as well as the South.

This position on Oregon was, however, a radical change from earlier policies. Previously, Americans had not claimed land north of the 49th parallel, the present-day United States-Canada border on the Pacific. Polk claimed all the land up to latitude 54°40' north, the present southern boundary of Alaska, which at the time was owned by Russia. The British, on the other hand, claimed territory as far south as the Columbia River. After Polk won the election, both sides sought to avoid a serious dispute; they backed down and accepted the boundary that exists today between Washington State and British Columbia. The compromise avoided war, but it convinced Northern expansionists that Polk (and behind him, the Democratic Party) cared more about Southern expansion than about Northern expansion.

I War with Mexico.

There was ample reason for that suspicion. While Polk compromised with Britain on the Oregon boundary, he stood adamant against Mexico on the question of Texas. Mexico warned that it would consider the annexation of Texas by the United States a declaration of war. A Texas convention voted to join the Union on July 4, 1845. Polk and a Congress strongly favoring annexation not only offered to take Texas into the Union, they also set the southern boundary of the new state at the Rio Grande-150 miles south of what most people had agreed was the Texas-Mexico border. The new boundary gave Texas far more Mexican land (including much of present-day New Mexico and Colorado) than the Texas Revolution had given it. Polk knew that the additional territory would provide a gateway to New Mexico and California, territories of northern Mexico that he and other expansionists coveted along with Texas. While annexing Texas, Polk offered to buy New Mexico and California from Mexico for $30 million in late 1845-an offer that the Mexicans angrily refused. Polk then provoked a war with Mexico in which he would win all that he had offered to buy.

As Mexico prepared for war, Polk sent troops into the disputed area north of the Rio Grande. Mexico sent troops north of the Rio Grande and in spring 1846 fought a skirmish in which the Americans suffered more than a dozen casualties. Congress declared war on Mexico that May. Near-unanimous congressional support for the declaration hid the fact that most Whigs and many Northern Democrats were deeply suspicious of a Southern war to annex new territory for slavery.

In the war the Americans launched a three-pronged offensive. General Zachary Taylor invaded northern Mexico from Texas, capturing the city of Monterrey in September 1846. A second American army under General Stephen Kearny occupied Santa Fe in August of that year. Kearny then sent part of his force to join Taylor at Monterrey and marched the rest of his army west to California, where American settlers had already established an independent "Bear Flag Republic." At the same time, the U.S. Navy seized California ports.

Having lost Texas, California, New Mexico, and large portions of Chihuahua and Sonora in northern Mexico, the Mexicans marched toward Taylor's army near Monterrey. Taylor held off determined attacks by a Mexican army about three times as large as his own and won the Battle of Buena Vista in February 1847. The next month the third prong of the U.S. offensive was launched when General Winfield Scott landed at Veracruz. Five months later he had fought his way to Mexico City.

As happened in much of the war, the Mexican army was larger and fought bravely, but the Mexican government and high command were divided and often incompetent, and the Americans were better armed and better led. In particular, the Mexicans had no answer to American artillery. After a series of bloody battles in September 1847, Scott's army occupied Mexico City, and the war was over.

The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848 ceded Texas (with the Rio Grande boundary), California, and New Mexico to the United States, which agreed to pay Mexico $15 million. The Mexican Cession gave the United States present-day west Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, California, Nevada, Utah, most of Colorado, and part of Wyoming. The northern third of Mexico had become the southwestern quarter of the United States.

The Mexican War was a straightforward land-grab. The ease with which the United States won and the arrogance with which it behaved created a distrustful and sometimes violent southern border area for the country. More immediately, the lands ceded by the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo became the object of contest and resentment between the slave and free states-a conflict that would widen into the American Civil War 13 years later

Texas became a state when it annexed to the USA