The Republic of Texas

By: Leona Hernandez

New Government

  • Similar to U.S. government
  • In September 1836, a congress of 14 senators and 29 representatives were elected.
  • Houston created a cabinet, which is a group of official advisors and administrators who look over departments in the executive branch.
  • There is a state department that takes care of relations with other countries. Stephen F. Austin was appointed as the secretary of state.
  • Columbia became the temporary new capital.
  • During the April of 1837, Congress chose the town of Houston as the new capital and moved there.

Sam Houston's First Term Issues

Sam Houston believed that Texas should be annexed into the United States because they could protect Texas.

  • The Republic's national debt was most likely Houston's greatest challenge. There was more than $1 million in debt. Ways to resolve that was cut government spending and find new sources of incomes, which were taxes. Most Texans had no money to pay off the taxes, so the government tries to print paper money. That did not go so well. Because there was no gold or silver to back up the money, it decreased all the way to 12 cents. Instead, the government started giving away land, so they would gain more settlers. Despite these efforts, the debt grew to $3 million.
  • Texans pondered about annexation into the U.S. Many of them agreed to being part of the U.S., but the U.S. was hesitant. Since Texas allowed slavery, adding it to the States would give the slave states more power in the government. They became the first nation to recognize The Republic of Texas. Other nations, such as Great Britain and France, wait to years before they recognize Texas to see if they could hold their independence. The American Indians on Texas soil fought for their land, which became a problem. Houston tried to make peace, but his efforts were unsuccessful. His promises to the Cherokees were never fulfilled, and the resulted in distrust between them and Texas. The Mexican government was still a threat because they were infuriated for taking their land that they owned, rejected the Rio Grande as the border, and refused to recognize Texas independence.
  • On top of all that, the Texan Army suffered organizational chaos, membership, and leadership. After the Revolution, most of the troops went home. The U.S. sent soldiers to help make the army, but they came for glory and fighting. Felix Huston became the leader, and Houston did not approve. Huston encouraged a war against Mexico. In the end, Houston sent home many troops, so he did not have to fund them. It will also be harder for them to gather and start a riot.

Mirabeau Lamar's Policies

Mirabeau Lamar believed Texas could be a great nation and compete with the U.S. for land in North America. That maybe why he did everything he could to get Texas recognized as a nation, more land, and stabilized.

  • Texas would pay $5 millions to Mexico if they recognized Texas independence and accepted the Rio Grande as the border. Mexico rejected. Texas tried twice more, and Mexico still rejected and refused to meet because they did not want to negotiate seriously. Ultimately, it failed.
  • Lamar wanted Santa Fe because the Republic could move west. Santa Fe was also the center of trade between Mexico and U.S. He believed that this trade would help Texas grow. Santa Fe was located east of the Rio Grande (which is Texas soil, according to Texas), so taking over the town would strengthen the new Texan border. He THOUGHT the people of Santa Fe wanted to be free of Mexican rule. In 1841, he sent out a group to claim Santa Fe. The group got lost, ran low on water and supplies, and got attacked by Indian, which slowed them down. 3 months later, they reached their destination, and they were not welcomed. Mexico became angry and threw them in prison. Once again, it failed.
  • In 1839, France became the first European nation to recognize Texas. They also agreed to trade. Great Britain did the same a year later. Since they were rivals, the British did not want France to have an advantage in North America. By 1841, France, Britain, the Netherlands, and Belgium recognized or traded with Texas. Lamar had succeeded in getting the Republic to be recognized by other nations.
  • Public education was special to Lamar. He tried and failed to get loans from other countries, so they sold land to get the money to fund a public school system and a university. Because of this, he earned the name "Father of Texas Education". He was successful with fulfilling his vision.
  • Military strengthening is another thing he did. For the navy, he bought a new ship and ordered seven more warships. For they army, he fired all Houston's soldiers, and built a whole new army almost from scratch. He wanted U.S. troops, and those lands obtain free land if they served. Success was for Lamar.
  • According to Lamar, American Indians blocked westward expansion. Anglo Texans and Americans thought the Indians had to no right to the land. Because Texas Rangers found letters that tied Cherokees to a Mexican plot to take over Texas, the Ranger attacked them. Lamar sent troops that defeated the Cherokees in the Battle of the Neches. As a result, land opened up in East Texas. Comanches still controlled much of Texas west of Austin and San Antonio. They claimed the right to hunt, trade, and raid the rest of Texas. The Comanches had made a huge economy based on kidnapping people to help them produce buffalo hide and mange horse herds. Texas hostilities increased, and Comanches took captives and destroyed farms and ranches. Hostilities reached a point where both sides needed peace. In 1840, Comanches agreed to return captives and begin negotiations. They had beaten and disfigured Matilda Lockhart, one of the Texan captives. She said that the Comanches had more captives that they did not bring, and Texans got angry. The two groups fought because the Comanches refused to release the other captives. When Comanche leaders got killed, it infuriated them. It violated all the rules they had set for diplomacy between them and Europeans. That fight damaged hopes for peace for many years. Lamar had succeeded with the Cherokees, but failed with the Comanches.

Sam Houston's Second Term Problems

Indian raids threatened, the Texas dollar lost much its value, the Republic was bankrupt, and there was still conflict with Mexico.

  • Houston had a new plan to deal with public debt. One way was to decrease government spending. At his command, Congress fired some government workers and reduced salaries of others. He cut the army in half, so he relied on the Texas Rangers and volunteers to defend Texas. Another way was to sell the Texas navy. Sailors kept their ships at sea as long as possible to prevent this. When they returned, their commander, Edwin Moore, was formally accused of mutiny, piracy, and murder. They put him on trial, and the verdict was not guilty. He was permitted to continue serving the navy, while Galveston's citizens prevented the ships to be put up for sale and saved the navy. The government reduced spending by millions, but the debt still grew. Most of the money the government earned went into paying for the interest on the debt.
  • Peace with the Indians was something Houston wanted. He first approached the peaceful Caddo tribe. They worked out a treaty that stated the Caddoes are able to remain on their land if they visited tribes hostile to the Republic and convince them to meet. The first of these meetings took place on March 1843. Both sides agreed to cease all fighting until a "grand council". They were able to make a peace treaty, but the Comanches refused to attend. Houston personally met with them. The Republic of Texas provided them with gifts, established trade, and slowly migrated into Comanche territory. The Comanches respected, and turned to raiding deep into Mexico.

Tensions with Mexico

Santa Anna regained power in Mexico and wanted to take back Texas. He knew that the Texan troops were weak, so it would be an easy target. Soon enough, Mexican soldiers attacked.

  • In March of 1842, Santa Anna sent troops into Texas. Those Mexican troops were able to capture Victoria, Goliad, and San Antonio. Once a Texas militia reached San Antonio a few days, the Mexicans had already left. These attacked worried Houston, so he ordered Texas Rangers to move the archives from Austin to Houston. This upset the people of Austin. They thought the President wanted to move the capital to the city named after him. They fought against Texas Rangers in what is now called the Archives War, and they succeeded in keeping the archives in Austin.
  • The Mexicans soon returned. They captured San Antonio to show that the Republic could not control land all the way down to the Rio Grande. Since the Texan force was not strong enough to fight the vast Mexican troops, they planned a trap instead. A group of Texans hid near Salado Creek, while a few of them challenged the Mexicans to a fight, and it worked. They lured the Mexican troops to an open field, and the Texans drove them out claiming victory. That same day, a group of 50 Texans were coming to help fight against the Mexicans.Before Captain Nicholas Dawson and his men were able to reach the battlefield, Mexican forces encompassed them. Although Dawson surrendered, the Mexican soldiers shot them mercilessly. They killed most of the Texans and took the survivors as prisoners. Texans were enraged, and wanted revenge on Mexico. They urged Houston to attack, but Houston did not allow it because he knew Texas would not win at the time.
  • Houston sent General Alexander Somervell to make sure the Mexican army had left Texas for good. Somervell took his men to Laredo, which had been under Mexican rule. Houston also told Somervell to only invade Mexico if he could beat them. Somervell thought an invasion would fail, and he could not trust that his men would not loot and riot in Laredo, so he ordered his troop to withdraw to Gonzales.
  • About 300 of Somervell's men refuse to go home, so they chose William Fisher as their new leader and went into Mexico. They attacked the town of Mier. Fisher's scouts said there was a large amount of Mexican soldiers, but the attacked anyway.
    The Texans fought bravely, but they surrendered in the end. The captives were marched down to Mexico City, but along the way, some of them escaped to Saltillo. The Mexicans recaptured about 176 of them. Santa Anna ordered execution for 10% of them , which meant 17 of them would die. They determined the 17 unlucky men by putting 159 white beans on the bottom of a ceramic jar and 17 black beans on top. It was perfectly clear that they were not mixed together. If you pulled out a black bean, you were to be executed.


  1. Foreign policy - ways a government deals with other countries
  2. Domestic policy - ways a government deals with issues inside the country
  3. Annexation - when a country takes over a part or all of another and adds them to their nation
  4. Immigrants - people who permanently live in a foreign country to them