FATE OF NATIONS
One Day, Many Destinies
The people and events of early Texas have touched lives in all parts of the world. In North America, The Battle of San Jacinto meant a disheartening blow to the fledgling Mexican government. But for the victorious colonists, it created a new nation: The Republic of Texas. Moreover, Sam Houston's great victory opened nine territories in the West, and made possible the notion of “Manifest Destiny”.
In Europe, Texas caught the eyes and imaginations of each powerful empire. A number of parties held their breath as this region — and its vast and untapped natural resources and strategic location — wobbled between governments. And for the whole world it helped create the unique mélange of American culture.
The Battle of San Jacinto expanded U.S. sovereignty — and spread its culture — to over a third of today’s contiguous states. After San Jacinto, Texas’ annexation in 1845 and the U.S. Mexican War, the United States would gain almost a million square miles of territory. As a direct result of the victory at San Jacinto, the United States would fulfill its “manifest destiny” of stretching from the Atlantic to the Pacific. In addition to Texas, it gained New Mexico, Nevada, Arizona, California, Utah, and parts of Colorado, Wyoming, Kansas and Oklahoma.
For a decade after San Jacinto, Texas was a sovereign nation. Although Mexico could not initially accept the magnitude of its loss, Texas was formally recognized by many other nations including the United States, France, Great Britain, The Netherlands and Belgium. It even maintained its own navy. Texas was eventually annexed to the United States in 1845.
After failed attempts to regain territory with campaigns against both the Republic of Texas and the United States, Mexico conceded its loss. Free of the region’s financial and security burdens, the young nation would eventually recover — blazing its own trail to greatness. Mexican culture will forever be intertwined with that of its former colonies. Today, one of the world’s most unique cultures revolves around the San Jacinto monument.
After President Polk’s annexation of Texas and the subsequent war, U.S. and European interests in Latin America grew both commercially and politically. Competition in the region between the United States and the United Kingdom led to the Clayton-Bulwer Treaty in 1850, which was negotiated to ensure a balance of power in anticipation of the proposed Inter-Oceanic Nicaraguan Canal — which was never built.
When Texas won its independence in 1836, it was the subject of much publicity in Germany. Texian grant holders from the Fatherland wrote passionate, persuasive letters home that sparked imaginations and inspired future immigration to Texas. Overpopulation in rural Germany and the promise of boundless opportuny inherent in a new country led thousands of Germans to Texas after the Battle of San Jacinto. Adelsverein, a commercial group sponsored by the German government, led an organized migration of thousands to Texas in the late 1840s. Their presence has been prominent since. A stable, solid population of artisans and landowners, German immigrants quickly established tightly knit towns in the central part of the state. Today, Germany is ranked third in nations of origin for Texas immigrants.
Following the Battle of San Jacinto, Spain’s influence in North America dwindled dramatically. It had lost virtually all of its holdings in the continent to Mexico in 1821. After the Battle of San Jacinto, and the subsequent Texas annexation, the United States used Texas to support numerous bases of operation to ensure Spanish defeat in the Spanish-American War of 1898. When the smoke cleared, the Spanish-American War would lead to the Treaty of Paris. According to the terms of the treaty, Spain would concede its closest former Spanish colonies: Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guam and the Philippines. This would officially put an end to the Spanish empire in North America.
The United Kingdom
The War of 1812 lingered in the collective minds of both Great Britain and the United States. Wanting to keep pace with French business interests and ensure a steady supply of cotton should border disputes with United States get out of control, Great Britain immediately recognized Texas as a sovereign nation. But the British opposed Texas annexation by the United States, wanting to quell the young nation's westward expansion. They proposed that the Mexican government recognize Texas only on the condition that it would not accept annexation. Their efforts proved to expedite the annexation, however, as President Polk moved to block future British power in the region. With the evaporation of its martial influence in Texas after 1845, England successfully moved its Texas initiative to the realm of commerce — where it gained permanent power. Anglo-Texas ties remain strong due partly to mutual interests in the energy industry.
When Texas won independence, France recognized its sovereignty at once. In 1838, the French had grown tired of Mexico refusing to repay several debts owed to French citizens living in Mexico. French colonization in Texas had varying degrees of success. Frenchman Henri Castro brought about 2,000 settlers to Texas in the mid-1840s, and by the Civil War their numbers had swelled. The United States’ annexation of Texas ended French colonial dreams in the region, but many French descendants still live in the Lone Star State.