History Files

The Americas

North American Colonial Settlements


Republic of Texas / Fredonia
AD 1836 - 1846

Texas, which had been part of the Mexican state of Coahuila & Texas, broke away in 1835. Instead the Texans established a republic which consisted of - or which claimed all or parts of - what are now the states of Wyoming, Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas.

At the time of its rebellion, Texas was bordered to the south and west by Mexico and to the north and east by the United States of America. Some Americans who had settled in Texas began rebelling against the Mexican government in 1834 and 1835. An earlier aborted attempt to establish independence occurred in 1826, when Hayden Edwards and a few of his followers in eastern Texas proclaimed the 'Republic of Fredonia'. Edwards was unable to gain enough support from other American colonists and quickly gave up his rebellion. He returned to the United States.

There were also a number of Native American inhabitants in the region. In the west (in what is now New Mexico) were the Pueblo and Apache, in the north (modern Colorado, Oklahoma, and the Texas panhandle), were the Cheyenne, Kiowa, and Comanche, and in modern eastern Texas there were the Caddo, Atacapa, Naquisqoza, Nazacahoz, Guasco, Scacatino, Aays, Nondacao, Lacane, Hacanac, and Nishone.

Europeans first arrived in what is now Texas in 1519, when the Spanish explorer, Alonso Álvarez de Pineda, sailed from Santiago (modern Jamaica) to explore and map the northern coast of the Gulf of Mexico, also visiting the mouths of the Mississippi (the first visit to a future Louisiana) and the Rio Grande.

Four Spaniards from Pánfilo de Narváez's 1528 expedition were stranded on the Texas coast, where they lived amongst the natives until they escaped in 1534. Over the next two years they trekked across what are now southern Texas, northern New Mexico, and western Mexico until, in 1536, they were rescued at Culiacán. Thanks to them, and to other explorations, the Spanish Colonies claimed the region as part of New Spain. In 1718, it was Spain which established the first European settlement in Texas, at San Antonio.

Towards the end of 1808, during the period in which Napoleonic France was in control of Spain, disruptions occurred in the government of New Spain. Pro-independence revolutionaries there saw these disruptions as a final break with the old country and the beginning of the movement for independence. Revolutionary movements developed and continued until Mexico finally achieved independence from Spain in 1821, as a new country which included Texas in its territory.

Texas was a sparsely-settled area of Mexico when American colonists started arriving. Stephen Austin led the second and more successful American colonisation of Texas in 1825 but, try as he might to obey local laws, other colonists, usually from the slaveholding south, routinely disregarded two provisions in particular of the constitution of the state of Coahuila and Texas: namely the establishment of the Catholic Church as the state's sole religion and the prohibition against slavery.

These settlers began in earnest to rebel against the Mexican government in 1834 and 1835. Captain Moseley Baker of Alabama entered Texas in 1834 to join the fighting forces which had been raised by William Barret Travis.

The Sarah R Dodson 1835 flag of the Texas republic

(Information by John De Cleene and the John De Cleene Archive, with additional information from The Times Atlas of World History, Geoffrey Barraclough (Ed, Hammond Inc, 1979), from The American Heritage Book of Indians, Alvin M Josephy Jr (Ed, Random House Value Publishing, 1961), from Spain in the Americas (National Geographic supplement, National Geographic Society, February 1992), from Washington Post Comics (7 March 1998), from Caddo Indians: Where We Come From, Cecile Elkins Carter (University of Oklahoma Press, 2001), and from External Links: United States (Flags of the World, 28 November 2004), and Mexico (Rulers.org, 26 September 2003), and United States (Rulers.org, 3 October 2004), and Texas State Library and Archives Commission (3 December 2022).)

1834 - 1835

American colonists begin a rebellion against the Mexican government. Captain Moseley Baker of Alabama arrives in Texas in 1834 to join fighting forces which have been raised by William Barret Travis and later to become a prominent politician. In November 1834, American settlers set up a provisional government with a council and with Henry Smith as governor.

Stephen Austin, Texan settler
Stephen Austin led the second and more successful American colonisation of Texas in 1825, trying to honour his contract with the Mexican government, but many other colonists and new arrivals from the United States did not respect Mexican laws and customs

The 'United States of Mexico' are already beginning to fracture, with Alta California and a host of other regions also rebelling. General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna takes command as a form of dictator in Mexico, with the intent of crushing all rebellion.

1835 - 1836

Henry Smith

American head of provisional govnmt. Deposed. Died 1851.


James W Robinson

Acting governor (Jan-1 Mar). Died 1857.


The Texans declare their independence by proclaiming the republic of Texas on 2 March. Unfortunately they are entirely unprepared for Santa Anna's response. His troops massacre the American garrison at the Alamo to ensure that Mexico retains most of Texas, while only the north-eastern core retains independence.


Richard Ellis

President of the convention (2-17 Mar). Died 1846.


David Gouverneur Burnet

President of the ad-interim government.


In response to the massacre at the Alamo, the Texans decisively defeat General Santa Anna at the Battle of San Jacinto, on 21 April. The general himself is captured, being forced to accept Texan independence (and a temporary exile by his own people in Havana, Cuba).

Battle of the Alamo 1836
The Battle of the Alamo was an heroic defeat for the Texan defenders, but the Mexican victory failed to prevent Texas from achieving independence

1836 - 1838

Sam Houston

First Texan president. Later state governor (1859-1861).

1838 - 1841

Mirabeau Buonaparte Lamar

Second Texan president. Died 1859.


David Gouverneur Burnet

Interim president for a second time. Died 1870.

1841 - 1844

Sam Houston

Second term of office. Died 1863.

1844 - 1846

Anson Jones

Final president. Oversaw US statehood. Died 1851.

1845 - 1846

Before James K Polk is inaugurated as president of the USA on 4 March 1845, the US Congress votes to invite Texas to become an American state. The Texas Congress and President Anson Jones agree on 4 July 1845. Texas is admitted into the union as a state on 19 February 1946. The USA annexes the remaining disputed territory of Texas despite Mexican protests, triggering the Mexican-American War in 1846.

1860 - 1861

When Abraham Lincoln is elected president of the USA in 1860, the Texas state government engages in bitter feuding over whether to secede. Sam Houston, the governor of Texas at the time, vigorously opposes secession. But on 2 March 1861, the newly formed secessionist Confederate States of America agrees to admit Texas into the confederacy.

Confederate States of America President Jefferson Finis Davis
Jefferson Finis Davis was born on 3 June 1808 in Christian County, Kentucky, and led the Confederate States of America throughout its existence during the American Civil War

On 4 March, Texas declares its secession from the United States. On 5 March, Texas accepts the confederacy's invitation, and on 23 March, when the confederate constitution is ratified, Texas formally becomes a confederate state.

1865 - 1870

After the Confederate States of America are defeated in 1865, Texas comes under Union military occupation. American president, U S Grant, under the authorisation of an act of congress, submits a new Texas constitution to Texan voters in 1869.

Texans approve the constitution and elect a new legislature, which ratifies the fourteenth and fifteenth amendments to the US constitution (the thirteenth amendment has already been ratified). Ratification of the amendments being one of the conditions for readmission into the union, Texas rejoins it on 30 March 1870, thereafter remaining part of the USA.

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