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Era Overview

The annexation of Texas in 1845 led directly to the U.S.-Mexico War (1846-48), during which Texas served as the staging ground for U.S. armies that invaded both northern and central Mexico. When the war ended with the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848, the United States took control of a massive swath of land between Texas and California (known as the Mexican Cession) that created the modern U.S.-Mexico border and ignited a political feud between Northerners and Southerners over whether slavery would be allowed to expand into these new western territories

During the twelve years that followed, American settlers poured into Texas. The population of Texas expanded from 212,000 in 1850 to more than 600,000 by 1860. Because the vast majority of these new Texans came from the southern United States, both cotton production and slavery also expanded dramatically. Cotton farming, the mainstay of the Texas economy, boomed: in 1849, Texans exported 58,000 bales of cotton; in 1860, Texans exported 430,000 bales. The enslaved African American population in the state also expanded from 58,000 in 1850 to more than 182,000 by 1860.

Texas, as a result, became increasingly involved in national debates over the future of slavery within the United States. Throughout the 1850s, Texan political leaders aligned themselves with the Deep South states that opposed efforts by the Republican Party and Northern politicians to stop the westward expansion of American slavery. Political turmoil over slavery and westward expansion during the 1850s ultimately led to the secession crisis of 1860-61, and the Civil War that followed. In February 1861, Anglo-Texans voted to leave the United States and soon thereafter joined the Confederate States of America.

Maps

We've assembled the following list of maps that are applicable to the Early Statehood.

Colton's New Map of the State of Texas

Colton's New Map of the State of Texas

"Full color atlas map by county of the state of Texas, showing county towns, post offices, forts, railroads, roads, and water bodies."

The Mexican Boundary from Texas to California

The Mexican Boundary from Texas to California

"Map shows major cities, military outposts, boundary lines for Old California, New Mexico, Texas, and Mexico. Includes dates in notes on boundary lines."

The Mexican-American War, first military engagements and incidents 9 April - 18 May 1846

The Mexican-American War, first military engagements and incidents 9 April - 18 May 1846

"Map shows troop movements and skirmish locations during the battle of Palo Alto. Includes legend and text about the Battle of Palo Alto."

United States, North America : Northern limit of slavery in Western States shown by Mason & Dixon's Line

United States, North America : Northern limit of slavery in Western States shown by Mason & Dixon's Line

"Map shows Mason and Dixon's line from California to Arkansas, state and territorial boundaries, major cities and towns, areas of Indian habitation, and notable geographical features; Washington, Oregon, Nebraska, Kansas, and Indian territories, New Mexico, Utah, Texas, and California."

Map of the United States and territories: showing the possessions and aggressions of the slave power

Map of the United States and territories: showing the possessions and aggressions of the slave power

"Map shows slave holding [dark shaded], non-slave holding [unshaded], and disputed territorries [grayed] parts of the United States during the decade before Civil War. The "Missouri Compromise" is indicated with a parallel line extending from the northern Arkansas border to California."

Map of the Butterfield Trail, Through Taylor County, Texas

Map of the Butterfield Trail, Through Taylor County, Texas

"Map of the Butterfield Trail mail route in Taylor County, Texas, in service between September 1858 and 1861, from St. Louis, Missouri, to San Francisco, California."

Colonists' and emigrants' route to Texas

Colonists' and emigrants' route to Texas

"Map shows pictorial representation of Texas cities, towns, and military posts in European fashion [as if built on a hill]; roads, railroads, steam ship lines into Galveston, "International Overland Route," and rivers; not to scale."

Videos

We provide videos for both continuing education and classroom use. Please see each video's descriptive page for related resources and details about accessibility and viewing options.

Annexation and the Road to the U.S.-Mexico War
60 min.

Annexation and the Road to the U.S.-Mexico War

The annexation of Texas, covering: (1) Republic of Texas on the Brink, (2) Playing the Annexation Game.

none none
The U.S.-Mexico War
45 min.

The U.S.-Mexico War

The U.S.-Mexico War, covering: (1) James K. Polk Gazes West, (2) Polk Provokes a Fight, (3) War in Northern and Central Mexico, (4) Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, (5) Mexican Cession.

none none
The Crisis of the 1850s
58 min.

The Crisis of the 1850s

The 1850s in Texas, covering: (1) Aftermath of U.S.-Mexican War, (2) Slave Labor versus Free Labor, (3) Compromise of 1850, (4) Bleeding Kansas, (5) Rise of the Republicans, (6) Dred Scott Decision.

none none

More Resources

The following list of resources provide additional information to help you dive deeper into the context of the unit. Books are linked to OCLC WorldCat, allowing you find a copy in your nearest local library or to make a request for it using interlibrary loan.

  • General

  • website Results for Early Statehood in The Portal to Texas History

    Digital copies of primary sources and other documents from our about this time period contributed to The Portal to Texas History by institutional partners from across the State.