American History 1785 - 1849

United States History The Fight for Texas

In 1820 the first American settlers came to Texas. At this time Texas was part of northern Mexico. The first Americans came with a man named Moses Austin. Moses had permission from Mexico to bring Americans to Texas to settle, raise cattle, and have farms.

In 1821 the people living in Mexico rebelled against Spain and won their independence. Moses Austin died.

Moses Austin
Moses Austin

Stephen Austin
Stephen Austin


His son, Stephen Austin, carried on as the leader of the Americans. The Americans had been allowed to come to Texas under certain rules:

  • They could only come in limited numbers.

  • Slavery was forbidden.

  • All Americans coming to Texas had to become Roman Catholics.

By 1830 twenty thousand Americans were living in Texas. Many refused to follow the Mexican rules. Many were Protestants and didn't want to become Catholics. Others wanted to use slaves.

The Mexican government ruled that no more Americans could move to Texas. In 1835 the problem turned into a war. The Mexican soldiers tried to force the Mexican rules on the Texans. Small bands of Texans fought the Mexican soldiers in a number of battles.

The Alamo
The Alamo

The most famous battle happened in February 1836. The Mexican leader General Antonio Santa Anna crossed the Rio Grande River to fight Americans with 2,000 soldiers. The soldiers marched to the city of San Antonio where 188 Americans were holding out in an old Spanish mission church called the Alamo.


Jim Bowie
Jim Bowie
  Davy Crockett
Davy Crockett

Inside the Alamo were many famous Americans. Davy Crockett was there. Jim Bowie was also in the Alamo. Bowie was a famous Indian fighter who developed a knife called the Bowie knife.

For thirteen days and nights the Americans held out against the Mexican force. Finally the Mexicans overran the mission. All the Americans were killed. "Remember the Alamo" became a saying of all Americans in Texas.

Two weeks later at Goliad, Santa Anna fought another battle with the Americans. He took 400 prisoners and had them all killed.

Texas Flag

On March 2, 1836 the Texans declared their freedom from Mexico. The Texans called themselves the Lone Star Republic. Sam Houston was named the leader of the Texan army. In April of 1868 Houston and the Texan army surprised the Mexican army near the San Jacinto River and won. Santa Anna was captured. He was forced to sign an agreement that Texas could be free of Mexico. As soon as he was freed he refused to recognize the agreement.

Houston was made president of the republic. The government sent Houston to Washington to ask that Texas be allowed to join the Union. Congress was not sure because:

  • They didn't want problems with Mexico.

  • The government was trying to keep a balance between slave states and free states.

The argument went on in Congress for the next nine years. In March 1845 Congress took Texas into the Union as the 28th state.

Mexico was angry and thought the Americans would also take California. California was then part of Mexico. President Polk sent some men to try to settle the problem peacefully. The men tried to buy Texas and California. The Mexicans refused.

Congress declared a war between the two nations. In September 1847 American troops captured Mexico City, the capital.

In February 1848 a peace treaty was signed. The Rio Grande River was to be the border between the two nations. The United States also got California and all of the land that is now New Mexico. Mexico was paid $15 million dollars for the property.

Twenty-eight years passed since Austin took settlers to Texas. In this time the United States had six different Presidents: