The Joint Resolution of Congress to Annex Texas, March 1, 1845
The annexation of Texas fostered a variety of emotions and political rancor in the United States. President John Tyler and President Sam Houston signed a Treaty of Annexation on April 12, 1844, to induct Texas into the Union as a territory, following constitutional protocols. Texas would cede all its public lands to the United States, and the federal government would assume all its bonded debt, up to $10 million. The boundaries of the Texas territory were left unspecified, but both parties anticipated that four new states could ultimately be carved from the former republic – three of them likely to become slave states. The Whig controlled US Congress, after much of the debate became public and exposed details of how Texas would affect the debate over slavery, refused to ratify the document by a overwhelming majority, and the issue died.
Tyler doubled back, however, and convinced both houses to ratify annexation by joint resolution–which only required a simple majority. This bill, which included proposals for the Republic of Texas to divide into several states is it so chose, carried. However, because Texas was an independent nation and did not go through a territory status, it retained its public lands–and its $10,000,000 debt.
Among northern states, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Vermont opposed adding the Republic of Texas to the nation. Pennsylvania and Ohio were divided, but New Hampshire, Maine, New York, Indiana, and Illinois clearly favored the measure. Not all salve-owning states were hot to add the Texans, either. Delaware and Maryland came out strongly against, and the Whig senators from Virginia, Tennessee, and Kentucky opposed annexation as well. In the end, party politics tinctured the vote, with most Democrats wanting the gigantic republic added to the US, while most Whigs wanted the measure blocked.
The Texans of 1845, though, were overwhelmingly in favor of annexation. Only one delegate out of the 56 in attendance at the Annexation Convention of 1845, only Richard Bache of Galveston voted against it. In October, when officials presented the issue to the voters in each county, these citizens voted 20 to 1 in favor of annexation.
One of the things that make Texas different than other states is that it retained its public lands at the point of annexation. This allowed the future proceeds from much of its vacant acres to enrich state coffers instead of federal. Texans can all thank three dozen Whig senators that rejected the original Tyler-Houston treaty for that!