Year
1845

Texans ratify a state constitution and approve annexation

On this day in 1845, a majority of the citizens of the independent Republic of Texas approve a proposed constitution, that when accepted by the Congress, will make Texas the 28th American state.

Despite having fought a war to win their independence from their old colonial master, Mexico, the people of Texas had long been eager to become part of the United States. Under the leadership of the Republic’s first president, Sam Houston, Texas had proclaimed its independence from Mexico in 1836, while simultaneously indicating a desire to be annexed to the United States. But while many Americans were willing to see the massive Texan Republic join their nation, Congress refused at the urging of influential northern abolitionists who claimed that Texas was controlled by a “slaveocracy conspiracy” of southerners.

The political climate shifted in the favor of Texas with the presidential election of 1844, when the victory of James K. Polk was widely seen as a mandate from the people to bring Texas into the American fold. But before Polk could take office, President John Tyler beat him to the punch by securing a congressional resolution calling for annexation. With the strong approval of most Texans, Polk signed the legislation making Texas an American state on December 29, 1845. Ominously, the Mexican minister had meanwhile warned the U.S. that his nation would consider annexation an act of war and demanded his passport in preparation for departure. Mexico and the United States would be at war within a year.

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