Friday, April 17, 2009

Secession nonsense

I first became aware of all this in the 70s as a result of an article in Texas Monthly if memory serves. The idea was that The Republic of Texas, under its annexation treaty with the US, could not secede but could subdivide into as many as four new states plus Texas. That would give "old" Texas ten senators in the US Senate and the thinking was that this much control would "persuade" the rest of the Union to bid us adios (another issue altogether).

Ok, here’s part of an overview from the Texas Handbook Online which appears to be affiliated with the Houston Chronicle so that should give it some credibility:

DIVISION OF TEXAS. The congressional joint resolution for the annexationqv [me: I don’t know what to make of these little “qv” marks—I assume some kind of footnote feature gone awry--I'm deleting the rest of them that I catch in this quote because they annoy me] of Texas, passed on March 1, 1845, provided that new states, not to exceed four, could be carved out of Texas, the new states to be entitled to admission to the Union, with or without slavery if south of the Missouri Compromise line, and without slavery if north of that line. The gubernatorial campaign of 1847 centered around the division of Texas into East and West Texas-East Texas being a slave state and West Texas being a free state-but the death of Isaac Van Zandt, chief proponent of division, ruined the hopes of the divisionists. In 1850 Senator Thomas Hart Benton of Missouri introduced a bill to reduce the size of Texas, and Senator Henry Stuart Footev of Mississippi proposed a new state east of the Brazos River, to be called Jacinto, but the proposal received little consideration in the Senate. On February 16, 1852, a joint resolution was introduced into the Texas legislature proposing that Texas be divided into East Texas and West Texas, but the measure was defeated by a vote of 33 to 15.

Article goes on with accounts of various divisionists' attempts and ends with:

After the 1930s division proposals were not taken seriously. In 1969 San Antonio Senator V. E. "Red" Berry proposed the formation of two states, North and South Texas. Senator Bob Gammage also proposed division in 1975. Generally, these later proposals sought the increase in political influence that multiple Texas states could stand to gain with two senators each in the federal government. In 1991 state representative David Swinford submitted a House bill to make the Panhandle into something called the state of Old Texas. The bill was not considered.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Weston Joseph McConnell, Social Cleavages in Texas (New York: Columbia University, 1925). Donald W. Whisenhunt, The Five States of Texas: An Immodest Proposal (Austin: Eakin Press, 1987).

Claude Elliott

Some salient, cherry picked language from a SCOTUS case following closely upon the heels of the Late Unpleasantness:

The Republic of Texas was admitted into the Union, as a State, on the 27th of December, 1845. By this act, the new State, and the people of the new State, were invested with all the rights, and became subject to all the responsibilities and duties of the original States under the Constitution.
When, therefore, Texas became one of the United States, she entered into an indissoluble relation. All the obligations of perpetual union, and all the guaranties of republican government in the Union, attached at once to the State. The act which consummated her admission into the Union was something more than a compact; it was the incorporation of a new member into the political body. And it was final. The union between Texas and the other States was as complete, as perpetual, and as indissoluble as the union between the original States. There was no place for reconsideration or revocation, except through revolution or through consent of the States.

Of course, if I were some kind of jen-u-wine secessionist I'd challenge anything the Supreme Court might have to say on the subject. But, the annexation language is pretty clear on the subdivision issue.

The actual annexation language (surprisingly brief--out on a bit of a limb here as the source is something called

Whereas, the Congress of the United States of America has passed resolutions providing for the annexation of Texas to that Union, which resolutions were approved by the President of the United States on the first day of March, 1845 ; and

Whereas, the President of the United States has submitted to Texas the first and second sections of the said resolutions as the basis upon which Texas may be admitted as one of the States of said Union, and Whereas, the existing government of the republic of Texas has assented to the proposals thus made, the terms and conditions of which are as follows:

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, that Congress doth consent that the territory properly included within, and rightfully belonging to, the republic of Texas, may be erected into a new State, to be called the State of Texas, with a republican form of government, adopted by the people of said republic, by deputies in convention assembled, with consent of the existing government, in order that the same may be admitted as one of the States of this Union.

And be it further resolved, that the foregoing consent of Congress is given upon the following conditions, to wit: First, said State to be formed, subject to the adjustment by this government of ail questions of boundary that may arise with others governments, and the constitution thereof, with the proper evidence of its adoption by the people of said republic of Texas, shall be transmitted to the President of the United States, to be laid before Congress for its final action, on or before the first day of January, 1846; second, said State, when admitted into the Union, after ceding to the United States all public edifices, fortifications, barracks, forts and harbors, navy and navy-yards, docks, magazines, and armaments, and all other means. pertaining to the public defense belonging to the said republic, shall retain all its public funds, debts, taxes, and dues of every kind which may belong to or be due and owing to the said republic, and shall also retain all the vacant and unappropriated lands lying within its limits, to be applied to the payment of the debts and liabilities of said republic of Texas, and the residue of said lands, after discharging said debts and liabilities, to be disposed of as said State may direct; but in no event are said debts and liabilities to become a charge upon the government of the United States; third, new States, of convenient size, not exceeding four in number, in addition to said State of Texas, and having sufficient population, may hereafter, by the consent of said State, be formed out of the territory thereof, which shall be entitled to admission under the provisions of the federal Constitution [emph. mine]; and such States as may be formed out of that portion of said territory lying south of 36° 30' N. lat., commonly known as the Missouri Compromise line, shall be admitted into the Union, with or without slavery, as the people of each State asking admission may desire; and in such State or States as shall be formed out of said territory north of said Missouri Compromise line slavery or involuntary servitude (except for crime) shall be prohibited.

Now, in order to manifest the assent of the people of the republic, as is required in the above-recited portions of said resolution, we, the deputies of the people of Texas in convention assembled, in their name and by their authority, do ordain and declare that we assent to, and accept the proposals, conditions, and guarantees contained in the first and second sections of the resolutions of the Congress of the United States aforesaid.

Adopted by a vote of 56 to 1, July 4, 1845, in the tenth year of the republic.

1 comment:

Stephanie said...

All very interesting. I'm pretty clueless about Texas history.