Texas: The Lone Star State
Geography and Industry
Often when we think of Texas, we think of the desert and the plains. But Texas (like many other states) is surrounded by water. The Gulf of Mexico and the Rio Grande River border the Lone Star State on the southern side, the Sabine makes up a lot of its eastern border with Louisiana, and most of its northern border with Oklahoma is made up by the Red River.
Texas is huge! Not only is it the largest state in the continental United States (only Alaska is larger), it is the second-largest state population-wise (behind California).
In the east, Texas has hills covered in pine forests that spread between the Trinity River and the Sabine River where it borders Louisiana. These pine trees have led to the region developing quite a logging industry. There used to be huge cotton plantations here before the Civil War, but now rice is king. Most of the rice produced in Texas is produced in East Texas. There is also a lot of heavy industry in this region, with the cities of Port Arthur and Beaumont having much manufacturing within their city limits.
The north-central part of the state is prairie that has some of the richest soil in the country. And Dallas, which is in this region, has one of the fastest-growing industrial areas. Oil companies, agricultural conglomerates, and electronics and computer companies all have combined to help make Dallas an industrial force in the twenty-first century.
The high plains region in northern Texas has a lot of grazing land for cattle, even though it can get very cold there during the winters. (Texas is the number-one producer of beef in the country.) West Texas is very arid and has a lot of rocky hills, rising as it does toward the neighboring Rocky Mountains. The Rio Grande border with Mexico is thousands of miles long.
Tourism is becoming a large industry in Texas. Padre Island National Seashore is a popular vacation spot, and the Johnson Space Center in Houston sees thousands of visitors annually. Outdoor recreation areas like Lake Meredith and Amistad National Recreation Areas and Guadalupe Mountains National Park offer breathtaking scenery for camping, fishing, hiking, and hunting.
ALL ABOUT Texas
LARGEST CITY: Houston
POPULATION: 20,851,820 (2000 Census)
STATE BIRD: Mockingbird
STATE TREE: Pecan
STATE FLOWER: Bluebonnet
STATEHOOD: December 29, 1845
POSTAL ABBREVIATION: TX
Ancestors of the Caddo lived in Texas for thousands of years before the first Europeans visited. The Caddo lived mostly in the northwest, along the Red River, and were farmers who stayed put, rather than plains-dwellers. The Texas plains were home to tribes such as the Comanche, the Kiowa, and the Apache.
Spanish refugees from the Pueblo Revolt in New Mexico were the first Europeans to settle in Texas (see Chapter 9, New Mexico for more on the Pueblo Revolt). The French tried to settle along the Gulf Coast just three years later, moving westward from their base in Louisiana. This galvanized the Spanish settlers into strengthening their own claims to the region.
Around 1803, many Americans in the southern states were looking to Texas as prime cotton-growing country. Presidents such as James Monroe and John Quincy Adams tried to buy the region from Spain, but the Spanish were not interested.
After Mexico gained control of the land in the Mexican War of Independence, they did not want to part with Texas either, but they allowed Americans to emigrate there as settlers, as long as the Americans swore allegiance to the Mexican government. This rule worked only too well, because by 1830 there were three times as many American-born settlers in Texas as there were Mexicans. The Mexican government tried to crack down on the Americans in Texas and limit their trade with the 86 United States, but these attempts backfired, and pushed the Americans in Texas to think of independence from Mexico.
In late 1835 war broke out, and the Mexican dictator Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna invaded Texas at the head of a large Mexican army. He swore that he would crush the growing Texan rebellion. After wiping out the defenders of the Alamo and massacring several hundred Texan soldiers who had surrendered at Goliad, Santa Anna was caught completely by surprise by General Sam Houston's much smaller Texan army at the climactic battle of San Jacinto in 1836. Wounded and captured himself, Santa Anna granted Texas independence the next day, in exchange for his freedom. He later repudiated the treaty he signed, saying he did it because he was given no choice.
WORDS TO KNOW
Texas gets its name from the name of the first Spanish mission that was founded in the Lone Star State. The mission was established by Franciscan priests near the Neches River in 1690, and was called Mission San Francisco de los Tejas. “Tejas” meant “friends” and was referring to the local Native American population.
Texas Becomes a State
Texas was an independent republic for nearly a decade after it won independence from Mexico. Texans overwhelmingly wanted to be part of the United States, but there were obstacles to statehood. American politicians who feared worse relations with Mexico (which still claimed Texas) and wanted to halt the spread of American plantation slavery repeatedly blocked Congress's attempts to incorporate Texas.
By 1844 Texas's government was broke and in need of a bail-out. The English and French both offered to help, and that made the United States so nervous about having Texas in debt to European nations that President John Tyler was able to convince Congress to finally offer to annex Texas that year.
When the Civil War came, Texas seceded with the other states. Because of its vast open ranges and large supplies of cattle and grain, it was soon considered one of the “breadbaskets of the Confederacy.” Once the Union Navy took control of the Mississippi River, though, Texas (along with Arkansas and Louisiana) was cut off completely from the rest of the South.
Use the directions to figure out which words to cross out of the puzzle grid. When you are finished, read the remaining words from left to right and top to bottom. You will learn the silly answer to the math mystery!