Why Is Texas Called the Lone Star State?
Texas is called the “Lone Star State” because for almost ten years, from 1836 until its annexation by the United States in 1845, the country was independent. For three centuries up to 1821, Texas and Mexico had belonged to Spain. In all that time, Spain had shown hardly any interest in this vast territory which is equal in size to the total area of France, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Denmark combined.
The “Lone Star” can be found on the Texan state flag and on the Texan state seal. The origin of the state name, Texas, is from the word, “Tejas”, which means ‘friends’ in the Caddo language. When Mexico gained her independence, Texas was peopled by no more than 7,000 and with only three settlements large enough to be called towns.
Beset with her own problems of administration and revolts, Mexico allowed American families to colonize land in Texas. By 1835 there were around 30,000 Americans settled in Texas, outnumbering the Mexicans by four to one. Too late for her own interests, Mexico tried to discipline the American Texans by abolishing slavery, levying duties and establishing military garrisons.
Fighting broke out when martial law was declared by the Mexicans who tried to disarm the Texans. On October 2, 1835, the Texans won the first battle of the Texas revolution at Gonzales. San Antonio was captured in December and the Mexicans withdrew to Mexico.
The Texans were weakened by arguments and lack of unity which allowed the Mexicans to recapture San Antonio on March, 2, 1836, but while the Mexicans closed in on the Alamo, Texas declared her independence. The new nation found this independence difficult to manage and was relieved to be annexed in 1845 by a rather unwilling United States of America.
Texas is the second largest state in the United States by both area and population. Geographically located in the south central part of the country, Texas shares borders with the other U.S. states of Louisiana to the east, Arkansas to the northeast, Oklahoma to the north, New Mexico to the west, and the Mexican states of Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo León, and Tamaulipas to the southwest, while the Gulf of Mexico is to the southeast.
Houston is the most populous city in Texas and the fourth largest in the U.S., while San Antonio is the second most populous in the state and seventh largest in the U.S. Dallas–Fort Worth and Greater Houston are the fourth and fifth largest metropolitan statistical areas in the country, respectively. Other major cities include Austin, the second most populous state capital in the U.S., and El Paso.
Due to its size and geologic features such as the Balcones Fault, Texas contains diverse landscapes that resemble both the U.S. southern and southwestern regions. Although Texas is popularly associated with the U.S. southwestern deserts, less than 10 percent of Texas’ land area is desert. Most of the population centers are located in areas of former prairies, grasslands, forests, and the coastline. Traveling from east to west, one can observe terrain that ranges from coastal swamps and piney woods, to rolling plains and rugged hills, and finally the desert and mountains of the Big Bend.
The term “six flags over Texas” refers to several nations that have ruled over the territory. Spain was the first European country to claim the area of Texas. France held a short-lived colony. Mexico controlled the territory until 1836 when Texas won its independence, becoming an independent Republic. In 1845, Texas joined the United States as the 28th state. The state’s annexation set off a chain of events that caused the Mexican–American War in 1846.
A slave state before the American Civil War, Texas declared its secession from the U.S. in early 1861, and officially joined the Confederate States of America on March 2 of the same year. After the Civil War and the restoration of its representation in the federal government, Texas entered a long period of economic stagnation.
One Texan industry that thrived after the Civil War was cattle. Due to its long history as a center of the industry, Texas is associated with the image of the cowboy. The state’s economic fortunes changed in the early 20th century, when oil discoveries initiated an economic boom in the state. With strong investments in universities, Texas developed a diversified economy and high tech industry in the mid-20th century.
As of 2010 it shares the top of the list of the most Fortune 500 companies with California at 57. With a growing base of industry, the state leads in many industries, including agriculture, petrochemicals, energy, computers and electronics, aerospace, and biomedical sciences. Texas has led the nation in export revenue since 2002 and has the second-highest gross state product.