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Texas: Lone Star State

JOINED UNION: December 29, 1845
STATE BIRD: Mockingbird
STATE FLOWER: Bluebonnet
MEANING OF STATE NAME: Based on a word used by Caddo Indians meaning "friends"
1992 POPULATION: 17,655,650
LAND AREA: 261,914 square miles
ECONOMY: Oil, cotton, cattle and sheep, tourism, commercial fishing, machinery
HISTORY: Home to Comanche and Atakapa Indians, among others, Texas was first visited by Spanish explorers Cabeza de Vaca and Coronado in 1541. The Spanish settled near El Paso in 1682 and, while Americans settled in Texas in the early 1800s, the state became part of Mexico in 1821. Santa Anna then became ruler of Texas in 1835 and when Texans rebelled, Santa Anna attacked and destroyed their stronghold at the Alamo in 1836. That same year, Santa Anna was defeated and Texas proclaimed independence, soon becoming part of the U.S. Because of Texas's vast size, folklore has Texans doing everything bigger than in any of the other states: driving bigger cars, drilling bigger oil wells, etc. Texas cattle drives gave birth to the American cowboy in the late 1800s, and today the state hosts a different kind of travel: NASA Space Center where astronauts are monitored during their space missions.

Alamo: Torn Over Texas March 6, 1836


By 1830, more than 20,000 Americans were living and growing cotton in Texas on land that belonged to Mexico. These Americans had about 2,000 slaves to work the cotton, even though Mexico outlawed slavery. When the Texans' request to separate from Mexico was denied, they decided to secede.

In response, Mexico marched 6,000 soldiers to San Antonio in early 1836. An army of 187 Texans, led by Colonel William B. Travis, defended themselves from a Franciscan mission called the Alamo.

During 10 days of fighting, the Texans held off the Mexican assault. But finally, the Mexicans clambered over the Alamo's walls, killing all but three people: a woman, her baby, and a slave. Among the dead were frontiersmen Davy Crockett and the Bowie brothers.

At the battle of San Jacinto, later in 1836, the Texans -- now led by Sam Houston -- used "Remember the Alamo!" as their battle cry. This time the Texans won. They quickly ratified a Texas constitution and made Houston president of their new republic.

Texas asked to be made part of the United States, but President Andrew Jackson -- and then President Martin Van Buren -- hesitated, since Texas would be a slave state and this would upset the balance of states achieved by the Missouri Compromise. Also, making Texas a state could provoke war with Mexico.

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