The Lone Star Republic: Definition & President

Instructor: Christopher Muscato

Chris has a master's degree in history and teaches at the University of Northern Colorado.

Texas is still known as the Lone Star State, but in this lesson we'll look back at its history as the Lone Star Republic. We'll discuss Texan independence and see how this impacted their history.

The Independent Republic of Texas

Texas is a big state. It's also a proud state, largely due to the fact that it is one of only two states in the country to have ever been its own nation. Yes, it's true. For nearly a decade, the Lone Star State was actually the Lone Star Republic, officially called the Republic of Texas. Why a lone star? It's not because Texans were lonely; the single star represented pride, defiance, and the assertion that Texas was strong enough to stand on its own as an independent nation. Even as part of a nation of 50 states, Texas is proud of its size and importance, and that's the difference between being just one star and being the lone star.

Texas is proud of its Lone Star image
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History of Texan Independence

To understand this whole lone star thing, we need to go back to when Texas had…no stars. In 1821, Mexico became fully independent from Spain. This independence included Mexico's northern territory of Texas. Now, at the time, Texas was sparsely populated, and the Mexican government decided to allow Anglo-American settlers to move in. This was partially in an attempt to create stronger cities to fight off Comanche raids. The first settlers to move in were 300 families led by Stephen Austin. Although the American settlers were supposed to learn Spanish, convert to Catholicism, and essentially become Mexicans, they started forming their own distinct local identity. The Mexican citizens of Texas called themselves Tejanos. The white settlers called themselves Texans. Between these two groups, who sometimes worked together and sometimes discriminated against each other, the people of Texas stopped thinking of themselves as either purely Mexicans or Americans. As the relationship between Texas and central Mexico worsened, largely thanks to the rise and fall of dictators in Mexico City, Texans started talking about some radical ideas. On March 2, 1836, the Texas Declaration of Independence was signed, asserting their freedom from Mexico.

Now, independence was not necessarily going to come easily. The Mexican president, Antonio López de Santa Anna, led Mexico's forces against the Texans, massacring many in a siege against the mission fort called the Alamo. Under the battle cry of 'Remember the Alamo!', Texan forces rallied around military commander and revolutionary Sam Houston and defeated Santa Anna. The Mexican president, captured by Houston, recognized Texan independence in May of 1836, although Mexico's Senate refused to.

Independent Texas

In 1836, a Constitutional Convention had been formed to both declare Texan independence and write the nation's constitution. They created a republic style government, modeled after the United States, and elected the white Texan leader David Burnet as their provisional president, until such time as free elections could be held. Tejano politician Lorenzo de Zavala was elected vice president. Once the war was over, they immediately began setting up elections for senators to the Texas legislature, as well as for president of the republic. It is important to note that only men could vote, and that Texas, which was a slave-owning nation, did not recognize African Americans (or African Mexicans) as citizens.

The seal of the Republic of Texas
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