Part 1 of a 3-part series
The question of Texas independence was presented on the steps of the state capitol Saturday, March 5, when the Texas Nationalist Movement hosted a rally supporting a resolution that would place the matter of Texas secession before state voters.
In an interview before the start of the small but vocal rally, media coordinator for the TNM Dave Mundy said some Texas legislators were willing to listen to what his group had to say. They hoped to send their message to Washington.
“It isn’t that we have an anger against Washington,” Mundy said. “It’s just our philosophy that Texas is becoming our own nation now. People around the world recognize Texas as its own due to the unique culture we have here.”
He said his organization has been crafting the non-binding resolution for more than a decade and will continue to work toward Texas sovereignty. He argued that as a nation, Texas would have much to offer the world.
Demonstrators expressed many reasons for secession. Member Steve Felfe said he wants to be a part of the organization for his children.
“For my children’s sake, I don’t want them to be burdened with massive debt. I’ve let them down by not speaking out and by not participating. I’m more of a freedom lover than anything else.”
If passed, the resolution would go to the governor.
In 2009, Perry was asked whether or not Texas would ever secede from the U.S. His response is even being talked about today.
“If Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people …. who knows what might come out of that? But Texas is a very unique place, and we’re a pretty independent lot to boot,” the governor said.
But can the Lone Star state legally secede?
This rekindles a classic debate on federal power and states’ rights. Such arguments are partially how Texas justified secession in 1861.
“There is nothing in the Texas state constitution that prohibits us seceding; therefore, it’s allowed,” Mundy said.
History and political science Chair Dr. David Chrisman said a U.S. Supreme court decision means that Texas cannot legally leave the union.
“Texas seceded in 1861; however, the 1867 U.S. Supreme Court decision Texas v. White rendered that Texas never left the union,” he said.
With questions on whether or not secession is a possibility, Texans like UMHB sophomore Luke Donahue believe Texas as an independent nation would do fine.
“We have countries over in Europe that are real tiny, and they can stand on their own two feet,” he said. “Texas was once its own nation, and we can do it again.”
It was no easy task to get where Texans are today. The history is rich, and many underhanded deals went on before it became a state.
In 1836 the Republic of Texas fought its way to freedom from Mexico and elected the first president, Sam Houston. However, he worked for annexation beginning in 1836.
Chrisman said that Houston is probably his favorite person in Texas history because of the risks he had to take.
“He essentially played a big poker game in Washington using the British as his trump card. Houston needed protection from Mexico, help with the debt and more immigration to the Republic. He negotiated either the possibility of annexation to Great Britain or returning to Mexican sovereignty with full intention of being annexed to the U.S.”
A treaty was sought by President John Tyler but denied by the U.S. Senate because Americans feared that Texas would have a strong influence as a pro-slave state.
With a 2/3 confirmation vote of the Senate having failed, Tyler sought a series of joint resolutions, which only needed a majority vote to pass.
It passed by two votes. Texas became the 28th state to join the United States in 1845.
History professor at the University of North Texas Randolph Campbell said it was a huge disappointment for both Mexico and England to lose Texas.
“Texas was a tremendous land gain for the U.S.,” he said. “The annexation of Texas was a key thing in many ways to several countries.”
Not only was the state important then, but it still is.
According to the CIA World Factbook database, Texas is home to nearly 25 million people. If Texas left the U.S. it would then take its place as being around the 40th largest country in the world. Out of 195 nations on the earth, the second largest geographic state in the United States would rank in the top 50. That’s in the top 25 percent.
As for economies, Texas has a gross product of $1.24 trillion, putting it just off the top ten economies in the world. If Texas became an independent country, its economy would be higher than countries like Australia and Poland.
Texas has had five different state constitutions ranging from when it entered the U.S. in 1845 to the one used today, which was written in 1876. The constitution nowhere says that the state cannot secede.
Even with the inability to leave America as recognized by the Supreme Court, many people in the state favor secession, not just because they want Texas to be independent, but to get away from the way Washington is running everything.
Donahue agrees the U.S. government is pushing some Texans to want to secede.
“They can’t seem to get stuff done,” he said. “I would like Texas to secede because we wouldn’t be tied up in the red tape of Washington.”
Chrisman believes people who want to secede are simply “stirring up sentiment” against Washington.
He said, “I don’t necessarily think their focus is on the state of Texas as much as an anti-federal government. It’s dissatisfaction with the status quo.”
JC Jones contributed to this story.