Texas, the largest state in the Union, is four times as large as New England, larger than France, Germany or Austria, and equal to six New Yorks or seven Ohios. Its greatest length is 825 miles; its greatest breadth 740: and its area 265,780 square miles. If the whole population of the American republic were to be carried to Texas, it would be no more densely settled than Massachusetts is now. Population 3,896,542.
The Spaniards explored Texas at a very early date. La Salle in 1685 founded Fort St. Louis on Lavaca River. But sickness and the Indian tomahawk blotted out the settlement, and the country was claimed and held by the Spaniards, who founded the missions of Dolores, San Antonio and San Agostino. Indian raids and rebellions, followed by massacres, made Texas a desert, and to people it Mexico invited American colonists in 1820, and within a few years 20,000 had settled there. Many annoyning acts by the officials of Coahuila, of which Texas was a part, resulted in the Americans sending General Austin to ask that Texas be admitted as a state of the Mexican Union. He was thrown into prison, and troops sent to Texas.
In 1835 the Texans rose en masse, drove out the Mexicans after hard fighting, and proclaimed a republic. The cruel massacre of the garrison of the Alamo by President Santa Anna was followed by his overwhelming defeat at San Jacinto by General Houston. The independence of Texas was acknowledged by the United States in 1839. In 1845 it was annexed to the American Union. At once a dispute with Mexico arose over the southern boundary, Mexico claiming to the Nueces, the United States to the Rio Grande.
The result of the Mexican War fixed the southern boundary of the United States at the Rio Grande, and the sale by Texas to the United States of lands to the north and west for $10,000,000 settled the detail of the state's boundary as it is to-day. It was also given the right to divide into five states, if its future growth should require it. The state seceded in February, 1861, and was readmitted to the Union in 1870. The name of Texas means Friends and was that of the Indians first living there, whom the Spaniards called Tejas or Tecas. The nickname of The Lone Star State comes from the flag of the republic of Texas, a white ground with an azure star. See Bancroft's History of Texas.
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Topography. The coast is 375 miles long, in the shape of a crescent, fronted by lines of long islands of white sand, with the Gulf of Mexico on one side and deep and navigable bayous and lagoons on the other, reaching up among the cotton and sugar plantations. There are only four harbors with lighthouses in this long stretch of coast; the United States government has spent many millions in building jetties at Galveston, Sabine Pass, Aransas Pass and other places. In the southwest Padre Island runs northward from the mouth of the Rio Grande for 100 miles; and inside it (between Padre Island and the Texas coast) is Laguna de Madre, 90 miles long and eight wide. This lagoon is so salt that fish die on entering it, and on its shores lie the deposits which furnish most of the salt used in Texas. Most of the Texan rivers fall into the Gulf of Mexico, among them the Rio Grande, Brazos, Colorado, Sabine, Trinity, Nueces, San Antonio and Guadalupe. Three rivers form parts of the state's boundary—the Rio Grande, Red and Sabine. The main branch of the Rio Grande is the Pecos. Between the Rio Pecos and the Rio Grande are the Guadalupe, Charrote and other mountains, in whose valleys the rivers die and vanish and the bitter salt-lakes are the only water.
Resources. The resources are numerous, and vary in the different sections. Inland from the coastal plains stretch the midlands, some 200 miles wide. The region called eastern Texas, from 96° W. to Louisiana, covers 50,000 miles, with great forests of pine, oak, cypress, magnolia etc. The rich black prairies reach from Laredo to Denison, a belt from 30 to 60 miles wide. Western Texas lies between Colorado and Nueces Rivers, a bare rolling-prairie of 50,000 square miles, mainly occupied by cattle and sheep ranches. Much like it is southwestern Texas, a tract of 30,000 square miles, between the Nueces, the Rio Grande and the Rio Pecos. The Pan-Handle lies between Oklahoma and New Mexico, mainly north of Prairie-Dog-Town River, with 27,000 square miles of land. It is a plain from 2,500 to 4,000 feet high, with some good soil but little water. The staked plain, which enters from New Mexico, is a waterless, grassy table-land. There are famous gold and silver mines beyond the Pecos. The deposits of building-stone contain marble, granite, soapstone and limestone. Coal, copper, salt, gypsum, lignite, cinnabar, sulphur, iron and asphalt are found. Mineral springs exist in several sections, those of Mineral Wells and Sulphur Texas being best known at present. The state has excellent oyster and other fisheries, and petroleum and natural gas are found.
Occupations. Much iron-ore is mined in eastern Texas, and the coal-mines of the state, though not extensively operated, yield over 1,000,000 tons annually. Salt, silver and gold are also mined, and yellow-pine lumber is cut from the eastern forests, as well as ash, gum, oak etc. Building-stone and cinnabar are quarried, and petroleum produced to the extent of 12,567,897 bbls. annually. Farming and ranching occupy many of the people, and beef, cotton, wool, cotton-seed, hides, corn, oats, wheat, sugar, rice, tobacco, vegetables and fruits are grown. Texas leads all states in the production of cotton, and as a rice-producer is second only to Louisiana. There is a great livestock industry, including cattle, horses, mules and swine. The wool-clip is very valuable. Manufactures are young, but there are over 5,000 specified manufacturing establishments. These include flour, cottonseed-oil and cake, meat-packing, oil-refining, cigar and tobacco factories, clay-products, foundry and machine work, rice-cleaning, brewing, saddlery and railway-cars.
Education. The Texas school-fund is worth $83,000,000, and in 1910 889,631 children attended the public schools, and 16,146 teachers were employed. There are many high schools and academies and several colleges, the most important being the University of Texas at Austin, which has an endowment of $5,000,000; Henry College at Campbell; Fort Worth University (M. E.) at Fort Worth; Ft. Worth Polytechnic (M. E. So.); Baylor University at Waco, founded by the Baptists in 1845; St. Edwards' College (R. C.) at Austin; and the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas at Bryan, endowed by the United States government. The state has four public normals for white people and Prairie View State College (normal and industrial) for colored citizens. Separate schools are maintained for the races, and educational affairs are under the supervision of a state board of education, a state superintendent and county superintendents.
Charities. There are three state schools for the deaf or blind, three insane asylums, a state orphan's home, an epileptic colony and a Confederate Soldier's Home. The state's penitentiaries are at Rusk and Huntsville; a reformatory for boys at Gatesville.
Irrigation. Irrigation in some sections of the arid portions of the state is a very old agricultural aid. The valley of the Rio Grande has many canals for this purpose that have remained almost unchanged to this day. Since 1900 large canal-systems take water from the Brazos, Trinity, Colorado, Guadalupe and other streams to the rice-fields of southern Texas. Numerous small farms are irrigated from surface-wells, and the irrigation-systems of Colorado and Brazos Rivers are worthy of mention. Orchard-fruits, small fruits, grain and forage-crops have been satisfactorily produced in these localities. The soil whereever irrigated yields abundantly, and is adapted in different sections either to agricultural or subtropical products.
Government and Cities. The governor and other officers are chosen every two years; the legislature is made up of the senate and house of representatives. The state capitol at Austin (population 29,860), is the largest in the Union. The land-office still controls 5,000,000 acres of public lands. Texas has 14,281 miles of railway and 624 miles of electric lines. The chief cities are San Antonio (96,614), Houston (78,800), Dallas (92,104), Galveston (36,981) and Fort Worth (73,312). Galveston, the chief seaport, was visited by a most destructive hurricane on Sept. 8, 1900. The loss of life entailed by the hurricane was close upon 3,000, while property to the value of about $25,000,000 was destroyed.
The New Student's Reference Work (1914) 1895-1896.
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