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The term "six flags over Texas" is a colloquial term used in reference to the nations that have ruled over the territory.Spain was the first European country to claim and control the area of Texas. Following a short-lived colony controlled by France, Mexico controlled the territory until 1836 when Texas won its independence, becoming the Republic of Texas. In 1845, Texas joined the United States as the 28th state. The state's annexation set off a chain of events that led to the Mexican–American War in 1846. Following victory by the United States, Texas remained a slave state until the American Civil War, when it declared its secession from the Union in early 1861 before officially joining the Confederate States of America on March2. After the Civil War and the restoration of its representation in the federal government, Texas entered a long period of economic stagnation.
Historically, four major industries shaped the Texas economy prior to World War II: cattle and bison, cotton, timber, and oil. Before and after the Civil War, the cattle industry—which Texas came to dominate—was a major economic driver for the state, and created the traditional image of the Texas cowboy. In the later 19th century, cotton and lumber grew to be major industries as the cattle industry became less lucrative. Ultimately, the discovery of major petroleum deposits (Spindletop in particular) initiated an economic boom that became the driving force behind the economy for much of the 20th century. Texas developed a diversified economy and high tech industry during the mid-20th century. As of 2022, it has the most Fortune 500 company headquarters (53) in the United States. With a growing base of industry, the state leads in many industries, including tourism, agriculture, petrochemicals, energy, computers and electronics, aerospace, and biomedical sciences. Texas has led the U.S. in state export revenue since 2002 and has the second-highestgross state product. If Texas were a sovereign state, it would have the 10th-largest economy in the world.
During Spanish colonial rule, in the 18th century, the area was known as Nuevas Filipinas ('New Philippines') and Nuevo Reino de Filipinas ('New Kingdom of the Philippines'), or as provincia de los Tejas ('province of the Tejas'), later also provincia de Texas (or de Tejas), ('province of Texas'). It was incorporated as provincia de Texas into the Mexican Empire in 1821, and declared a republic in 1836. The Royal Spanish Academy recognizes both spellings, Tejas and Texas, as Spanish-language forms of the name of the U.S. state of Texas.
The English pronunciation with /ks/ is unetymological, contrary to the historical value of the letter x (/ʃ/) in Spanish orthography. Alternative etymologies of the name advanced in the late 19th century connected the name Texas with the Spanish word teja, meaning 'roof tile', the plural tejas being used to designate indigenous Pueblo settlements. A 1760s map by Jacques-Nicolas Bellin shows a village named Teijas on the Trinity River, close to the site of modern Crockett.
When Europeans arrived in the Texas region, several different cultures of Native peoples, divided into many smaller tribes, were living there. The language families present in the state were Caddoan, Atakapan, Athabaskan, Coahuiltecan, and Uto-Aztecan, in addition to several language isolates such as Tonkawa. Uto-Aztecan Puebloan and Jumano peoples lived neared the Rio Grande in the western portion of the state and the Athabaskan-speaking Apache tribes lived throughout the interior. The agricultural, moundbuilding Caddo controlled much of the northeastern part of the state, along the Red, Sabine, and Neches River basins. Atakapan peoples such as the Akokisa and Bidai lived along the northeastern Gulf Coast, whereas the Karankawa lived along the central coast. At least one tribe of Coahuiltecans, the Aranama, lived in southern Texas. This entire culture group, primarily centered in northeastern Mexico, is now extinct. It is difficult to say who lived in the northwestern region of the state originally. By the time the region came to be explored, it belonged to the fairly well-known Comanche, another Uto-Aztecan people who had transitioned into a powerful horse culture, but it is believed that they came later and did not live there during the 16th century. It may have been claimed by several different peoples, including Uto-Aztecans, Athabaskans, or even Dhegihan Siouans.
The region was primarily controlled by the Spanish for the first couple centuries of contact, until the Texas Revolution. They were most interested in relationships with the Caddo, who were - like the Spanish - a settled, agricultural people. Several Spanish missions were opened in Caddo territory, but a lack of interest in Christianity among the Caddo meant conversions were few in number. Positioned between French Louisiana and Spanish Texas, the Caddo maintained cordial relations with both, but were closer with the French. After Spain took control of Louisiana, most of the missions in eastern Texas were closed and abandoned. The United States obtained Louisiana following the 1803 Louisiana Purchase. The Caddo preferred the company of Americans and almost the entire population of them migrated into the states of Louisiana and Arkansas. The Spanish felt jilted after having spent so much time and effort and began trying to lure the Caddo back, even promising them more land. The United States (who had begun convincing tribes to self-segregate from whites by selling everything and moving west ever since they gained the Louisiana Purchase) faced an overflow of native peoples in Missouri and Arkansas and were able to negotiate with the Caddo to allow several displaced peoples to settle on unused lands in eastern Texas. They included the Muscogee, Houma Choctaw, Lenape and Mingo Seneca, among others, who all came to view the Caddoans as saviors, making those peoples highly influential.
Whether a Native American tribe was friendly or warlike was critical to the fates of European explorers and settlers in that land. Friendly tribes taught newcomers how to grow indigenous crops, prepare foods, and hunt wild game. Warlike tribes made life difficult and dangerous for Europeans through their attacks and resistance to the newcomers.
During the Texas Revolution, the U.S. became heavily involved. Prior treaties with the Spanish forbade either side from militarizing its native population in any potential conflict between the two nations. At that time, several sudden outbreaks of violence between Native Americans and Texans started to spread. Texans accused tribes, including the Caddo of stealing livestock despite lacking evidence. While no proof was found as to who the culprit was, those in charge of Texas at the time attempted multiple times to publicly blame and punish the Caddo for the incidents with the U.S. government trying to keep them in check. Furthermore, the Caddo never turned to violence because of it, excepting cases of self-defense.
By the 1830s, the U.S. had drafted the Indian Removal Act, which was used to facilitate the Trail of Tears. Fearing retribution of other native peoples, Indian Agents all over the eastern U.S. began desperately trying to convince all their native peoples to uproot and move west. This included the Caddo of Louisiana and Arkansas. Following the Texas Revolution, the Texans chose to make peace with their Native peoples but did not honor former land claims or agreements. The first president of Texas, Sam Houston, aimed to cooperate and make peace with Native tribes, but his successor Mirabeau B. Lamar took a much more hostile stance towards Native Americans. Hostility towards Natives by white Texans would eventually prompt the movement of most Native populations north into what would become Indian Territory—modern-day Oklahoma. Only the Alabama-Coushatta would remain in the parts of Texas subject to white settlement, though the Comanche would continue to control most of the western half of the state until their defeat in the 1870s and 1880s.
The first historical document related to Texas was a map of the Gulf Coast, created in 1519 by Spanish explorer Alonso Álvarez de Pineda. Nine years later, shipwrecked Spanish explorer Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca and his cohort became the first Europeans in what is now Texas. Cabeza de Vaca reported that in 1528, when the Spanish landed in the area, "half the natives died from a disease of the bowels and blamed us." Cabeza de Vaca also made observations about the way of life of the Ignaces Natives of Texas:
They went about with a firebrand, setting fire to the plains and timber so as to drive off the mosquitos, and also to get lizards and similar things which they eat, to come out of the soil. In the same manner they kill deer, encircling them with fires, and they do it also to deprive the animals of pasture, compelling them to go for food where the Indians want.
Two kinds of people travel around these plains with the cows; one is called Querechos and the others Teyas; they are very well built, and painted, and are enemies of each other. They have no other settlement or location than comes from traveling around with the cows. They kill all of these they wish and tan the hides, with which they clothe themselves and make their tents, and they eat the flesh, sometimes even raw, and they also even drink the blood when thirsty. The tents they make are like field tents, and they set them up over poles they have made for this purpose, which come together and are tied at the top, and when they go from one place to another they carry them on some dogs they have, of which they have many, and they load them with the tents and poles and other things, for the country is so level, as I said, that they can make use of these, because they carry the poles dragging along on the ground. The sun is what they worship most.
Following Cabeza de Vaca, the expedition of Hernando de Soto entered into Texas from the east, seeking a route to Mexico. They passed through the Caddo lands but turned back after reaching the River of Daycao (possibly the Brazos or Colorado), beyond which point the Native peoples were nomadic and did not have the agricultural stores to feed the expedition.
European powers ignored the area until accidentally settling there in 1685. Miscalculations by René-Robert Cavelier de La Salle resulted in his establishing the colony of Fort Saint Louis at Matagorda Bay rather than along the Mississippi River. The colony lasted only four years before succumbing to harsh conditions and hostile natives. A small band of survivors traveled eastward into the lands of the Caddo, but La Salle was killed by disgruntled expedition members.
In 1690 Spanish authorities, concerned that France posed a competitive threat, constructed several missions in East Texas among the Caddo. After Caddo resistance, the Spanish missionaries returned to Mexico. When France began settling Louisiana, mostly in the southern part of the state, in 1716 Spanish authorities responded by founding a new series of missions in East Texas. Two years later, they created San Antonio as the first Spanish civilian settlement in the area.
Hostile native tribes and distance from nearby Spanish colonies discouraged settlers from moving to the area. It was one of New Spain's least populated provinces. In 1749, the Spanish peace treaty with the Lipan Apache angered many tribes, including the Comanche, Tonkawa, and Hasinai. The Comanche signed a treaty with Spain in 1785 and later helped to defeat the Lipan Apache and Karankawa tribes. With more numerous missions being established, priests led a peaceful conversion of most tribes. By the end of the 18th century only a few nomadic tribes had not converted to Christianity.
When the United States purchased Louisiana from France in 1803, American authorities insisted the agreement also included Texas. The boundary between New Spain and the United States was finally set at the Sabine River in 1819, at what is now the border between Texas and Louisiana. Eager for new land, many United States settlers refused to recognize the agreement. Several filibusters raised armies to invade the area west of the Sabine River. Marked by the War of 1812, some men who had escaped from the Spanish, held (Old) Philippines had immigrated to and also passed through Texas (New Philippines) and reached Louisiana where Philippine exiles aided the United States in the defense of New Orleans against a British invasion, with Filipinos in the Saint Malo settlement assisting Jean Lafitte in the Battle of New Orleans.
Hoping more settlers would reduce the near-constant Comanche raids, Mexican Texas liberalized its immigration policies to permit immigrants from outside Mexico and Spain. Under the Mexican immigration system, large swathes of land were allotted to empresarios, who recruited settlers from the United States, Europe, and the Mexican interior. The first grant, to Moses Austin, was passed to his son Stephen F. Austin after his death.
Austin's settlers, the Old Three Hundred, made places along the Brazos River in 1822. Twenty-three other empresarios brought settlers to the state, the majority of whom were from the United States. The population of Texas grew rapidly. In 1825, Texas had about 3,500 people, with most of Mexican descent. By 1834, the population had grown to about 37,800 people, with only 7,800 of Mexican descent. Most of these early settlers who arrived with Austin and soon after were persons less than fortunate in life, as Texas was devoid of the comforts found elsewhere in Mexico and the United States during that time. Early Texas settler David B. Edwards described his fellow Texans as being "banished from the pleasures of life".
Many immigrants openly flouted Mexican law, especially the prohibition against slavery. Combined with United States' attempts to purchase Texas, Mexican authorities decided in 1830 to prohibit continued immigration from the United States.Illegal immigration from the United States into Mexico continued to increase the population of Texas anyway. New laws also called for the enforcement of customs duties angering native Mexican citizens (Tejanos) and recent immigrants alike.
The Anahuac Disturbances in 1832 were the first open revolt against Mexican rule, and they coincided with a revolt in Mexico against the nation's president.Texians sided with the federalists against the current government and drove all Mexican soldiers out of East Texas. They took advantage of the lack of oversight to agitate for more political freedom. Texians met at the Convention of 1832 to discuss requesting independent statehood, among other issues. The following year, Texians reiterated their demands at the Convention of 1833.
Within Mexico, tensions continued between federalists and centralists. In early 1835, wary Texians formed Committees of Correspondence and Safety. The unrest erupted into armed conflict in late 1835 at the Battle of Gonzales. This launched the Texas Revolution, and over the next two months the Texians defeated all Mexican troops in the region. Texians elected delegates to the Consultation, which created a provisional government. The provisional government soon collapsed from infighting, and Texas was without clear governance for the first two months of 1836.
While Texas had won its independence, political battles raged between two factions of the new Republic. The nationalist faction, led by Mirabeau B. Lamar, advocated the continued independence of Texas, the expulsion of the Native Americans, and the expansion of the Republic to the Pacific Ocean. Their opponents, led by Sam Houston, advocated the annexation of Texas to the United States and peaceful co-existence with Native Americans. The conflict between the factions was typified by an incident known as the Texas Archive War. With wide popular support, Texas first applied for annexation to the United States in 1836, but its status as a slaveholding country caused its admission to be controversial and it was initially rebuffed. This status, and Mexican diplomacy in support of its claims to the territory, also complicated Texas's ability to form foreign alliances and trade relationships.
The Comanche Indians furnished the main Native American opposition to the Texas Republic, manifested in multiple raids on settlements. Mexico launched two small expeditions into Texas in 1842. The town of San Antonio was captured twice and Texans were defeated in battle in the Dawson massacre. Despite these successes, Mexico did not keep an occupying force in Texas, and the republic survived. The cotton price crash of the 1840s depressed the country's economy.
As early as 1837, the Republic of Texas made several attempts to negotiate annexation with the United States. Opposition within the republic from the nationalist faction, along with strong abolitionist opposition within the United States, slowed Texas's admission into the Union. Texas was finally annexed when the expansionist James K. Polk won the election of 1844. On December 29, 1845, the U.S. Congress admitted Texas to the U.S. as a constituent state of the Union.
The population of the new state was quite small at first, and there was a strong mix between the English-speaking American settlers who dominated in the state's eastern/northeastern portions and the Spanish-speaking former Mexicans (Tejanos) who dominated in the state's southern and western portions. Statehood brought many new settlers. Because of the long Spanish presence in Mexico and various failed colonization efforts by the Spanish and Mexicans in northern Mexico, there were large herds of Longhorn cattle that roamed the state. Hardy by nature, but also suitable for slaughtering and consumption, they represented an economic opportunity many entrepreneurs seized upon, thus creating the cowboy culture for which Texas is famous.
After Texas's annexation, Mexico broke diplomatic relations with the United States. While the United States claimed Texas's border stretched to the Rio Grande, Mexico claimed it was the Nueces River leaving the Rio Grande Valley under contested Texan sovereignty. While the former Republic of Texas could not enforce its border claims, the United States had the military strength and the political will to do so. President Polk ordered General Zachary Taylor south to the Rio Grande on January 13, 1846. A few months later Mexican troops routed an American cavalry patrol in the disputed area in the Thornton Affair starting the Mexican–American War. The first battles of the war were fought in Texas: the Siege of Fort Texas, Battle of Palo Alto and Battle of Resaca de la Palma. After these decisive victories, the United States invaded Mexican territory, ending the fighting in Texas.
After a series of United States victories, the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo ended the two-year war. In return, for US$18,250,000, Mexico gave the U.S. undisputed control of Texas, ceded the Mexican Cession in 1848, most of which today is called the American Southwest, and Texas's borders were established at the Rio Grande.
The Compromise of 1850 set Texas's boundaries at their present form. U.S. Senator James Pearce of Maryland drafted the final proposal where Texas ceded its claims to land which later became half of present-day New Mexico, a third of Colorado, and small portions of Kansas, Oklahoma, and Wyoming to the federal government, in return for the assumption of $10 million of the old republic's debt. Post-war Texas grew rapidly as migrants poured into the cotton lands of the state.
They also brought or purchased enslaved African Americans, whose numbers tripled in the state from 1850 to 1860, from 58,000 to 182,566.
Texas was at war again after the election of 1860. At this time, blacks comprised 30 percent of the state's population, and they were overwhelmingly enslaved. When Abraham Lincoln was elected, South Carolina seceded from the Union; five other Deep South states quickly followed. A state convention considering secession opened in Austin on January 28, 1861. On February 1, by a vote of 166–8, the convention adopted an Ordinance of Secession from the United States. Texas voters approved this Ordinance on February 23, 1861. Texas joined the newly created Confederate States of America on March 4, 1861, ratifying the permanent C.S. Constitution on March 23.
Not all Texans favored secession initially, although many of the same would later support the Southern cause. Texas's most notable Unionist was the state governor, Sam Houston. Not wanting to aggravate the situation, Houston refused two offers from President Lincoln for Union troops to keep him in office. After refusing to swear an oath of allegiance to the Confederacy, Houston was deposed as governor. Around 2,000 Texans served in the Union Army, with a large contingent of recent German immigrants in Texas Hill Country being a Unionist stronghold.
While far from the major battlefields of the American Civil War, Texas contributed large numbers of soldiers and equipment to the rest of the Confederacy. Union troops briefly occupied the state's primary port, Galveston. Texas's border with Mexico was known as the "backdoor of the Confederacy" because trade occurred at the border, bypassing the Union blockade. The Confederacy repulsed all Union attempts to shut down this route, but Texas's role as a supply state was marginalized in mid-1863 after the Union capture of the Mississippi River. The final battle of the Civil War was fought at Palmito Ranch, near Brownsville, Texas, and saw a Confederate victory.
Texas descended into anarchy for two months between the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia and the assumption of authority by Union General Gordon Granger. Violence marked the early months of Reconstruction.Juneteenth commemorates the announcement of the Emancipation Proclamation in Galveston by General Gordon Granger, almost two and a half years after the original announcement. President Johnson, in 1866, declared the civilian government restored in Texas. Despite not meeting reconstruction requirements, Congress resumed allowing elected Texas representatives into the federal government in 1870. Social volatility continued as the state struggled with agricultural depression and labor issues.
Like most of the South, the Texas economy was devastated by the War. However, since the state had not been as dependent on slaves as other parts of the South, it was able to recover more quickly. The culture in Texas during the later 19th century exhibited many facets of a frontier territory. The state became notorious as a haven for people from other parts of the country who wanted to escape debt, war tensions, or other problems. Indeed, "Gone to Texas" was a common expression for those fleeing the law in other states. Nevertheless, the state also attracted many businessmen and other settlers with more legitimate interests as well.
The cattle industry continued to thrive, though it gradually became less profitable. Cotton and lumber became major industries creating new economic booms in various regions of the state. Railroad networks grew rapidly as did the port at Galveston as commerce between Texas and the rest of the U.S. (and the rest of the world) expanded. As with some other states before, the lumber industry quickly expanded in Texas and was its largest industry before the beginning of the 20th century.
In 1901, the Democratic-dominated state legislature passed a bill requiring payment of a poll tax for voting, which effectively disenfranchised most blacks and many poor whites and Latinos. In addition, the legislature established white primaries, ensuring minorities were excluded from the formal political process. The number of voters dropped dramatically, and the Democrats crushed competition from the Republican and Populist parties. The Socialist Party became the second-largest party in Texas after 1912, coinciding with a large socialist upsurge in the United States during fierce battles in the labor movement and the popularity of national heroes like Eugene V. Debs. The socialists' popularity soon waned after their vilification by the United States government for their opposition to U.S. involvement in World War I.
The Great Depression and the Dust Bowl dealt a double blow to the state's economy, which had significantly improved since the Civil War. Migrants abandoned the worst-hit sections of Texas during the Dust Bowl years. Especially from this period on, blacks left Texas in the Great Migration to get work in the Northern United States or California and to escape the oppression of segregation. In 1940, Texas was 74% Anglo, 14.4% black, and 11.5% Hispanic.
World War II had a dramatic impact on Texas, as federal money poured in to build military bases, munitions factories, POW detention camps and Army hospitals; 750,000 Texans left for service; the cities exploded with new industry; the colleges took on new roles; and hundreds of thousands of poor farmers left the fields for much better-paying war jobs, never to return to agriculture. Texas manufactured 3.1 percent of total United States military armaments produced during World War II, ranking eleventh among the 48 states.
Texas modernized and expanded its system of higher education through the 1960s. The state created a comprehensive plan for higher education, funded in large part by oil revenues, and a central state apparatus designed to manage state institutions more efficiently. These changes helped Texas universities receive federal research funds.
Mid-20th to early 21st century
Beginning around the mid-20th century, Texas began to transform from a rural and agricultural state to one urban and industrialized. The state's population grew quickly during this period, with large levels of migration from outside the state. As a part of the Sun Belt, Texas experienced strong economic growth, particularly during the 1970s and early 1980s. Texas's economy diversified, lessening its reliance on the petroleum industry. By 1990, Hispanics and Latino Americans overtook blacks to become the largest traditional minority group in the state. Texas has the largest Black and African American population with over 3.9 million.
From the mid-2000s to 2019, Texas gained an influx of business relocations and regional headquarters from companies in California. Texas became a major destination for migration during the early 21st century and was named the most popular state to move for three consecutive years. Another study in 2019 determined Texas's growth rate at 1,000 people per day.
During the COVID-19 pandemic in Texas, the first confirmed case of the virus in Texas was announced on March 4, 2020. On April 27, 2020, Governor Greg Abbott announced phase one of re-opening the economy. Amid a rise in COVID-19 cases in autumn 2020, Abbott and other U.S. governors refused to enact further lockdowns. In November 2020, Texas was selected as one of four states to test Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine distribution. As of February 2, 2021, there had been over 2.4 million confirmed cases in Texas, with at least 37,417 deaths.
During February 13–17, 2021, the state faced a major weather emergency as Winter Storm Uri hit the state, as well as most of the Southeastern and Midwestern United States. Historically high power usage across the state caused the state's power grid to become overworked and ERCOT (the main operator of the Texas Interconnection grid) declared an emergency and began to implement rolling blackouts across Texas, causing a power crisis. Over 3 million Texans were without power and over 4 million were under boil notices.
With 10 climatic regions, 14 soil regions and 11 distinct ecological regions, regional classification becomes complicated with differences in soils, topography, geology, rainfall, and plant and animal communities. One classification system divides Texas, in order from southeast to west, into the following: Gulf Coastal Plains, Interior Lowlands, Great Plains, and Basin and Range Province.
The Gulf Coastal Plains region wraps around the Gulf of Mexico on the southeast section of the state. Vegetation in this region consists of thick piney woods. The Interior Lowlands region consists of gently rolling to hilly forested land and is part of a larger pine-hardwood forest. The Cross Timbers region and Caprock Escarpment are part of the Interior Lowlands.
The size and unique history of Texas make its regional affiliation debatable; it can be fairly considered a Southern or a Southwestern state, or both. The vast geographic, economic, and cultural diversity within the state itself prohibits easy categorization of the whole state into a recognized region of the United States. Notable extremes range from East Texas which is often considered an extension of the Deep South, to Far West Texas which is generally acknowledged to be part of the interior Southwest.
Texas is the southernmost part of the Great Plains, which ends in the south against the folded Sierra Madre Occidental of Mexico. The continental crust forms a stable Mesoproterozoiccraton which changes across a broad continental margin and transitional crust into true oceanic crust of the Gulf of Mexico. The oldest rocks in Texas date from the Mesoproterozoic and are about 1,600 million years old.
The late Paleozoic mountains collapsed as rifting in the Jurassic period began to open the Gulf of Mexico. Pangea began to break up in the Triassic, but seafloor spreading to form the Gulf of Mexico occurred only in the mid- and late Jurassic. The shoreline shifted again to the eastern margin of the state and the Gulf of Mexico's passive margin began to form. Today 9 to 12 miles (14 to 19 km) of sediments are buried beneath the Texas continental shelf and a large proportion of remaining US oil reserves are here. At the start of its formation, the incipient Gulf of Mexico basin was restricted and seawater often evaporated completely to form thick evaporite deposits of Jurassic age. These salt deposits formed salt domediapirs, and are found in East Texas along the Gulf coast.
A wide range of animals and insects live in Texas. It is the home to 65 species of mammals, 213 species of reptiles and amphibians, including the American green tree frog, and the greatest diversity of bird life in the United States—590 native species in all. At least 12 species have been introduced and now reproduce freely in Texas.
During the spring Texas wildflowers such as the state flower, the bluebonnet, line highways throughout Texas. During the Johnson Administration the first lady, Lady Bird Johnson, worked to draw attention to Texas wildflowers.
The large size of Texas and its location at the intersection of multiple climate zones gives the state highly variable weather. The Panhandle of the state has colder winters than North Texas, while the Gulf Coast has mild winters. Texas has wide variations in precipitation patterns. El Paso, on the western end of the state, averages 8.7 inches (220 mm) of annual rainfall, while parts of southeast Texas average as much as 64 inches (1,600 mm) per year. Dallas in the North Central region averages a more moderate 37 inches (940 mm) per year.
Snow falls multiple times each winter in the Panhandle and mountainous areas of West Texas, once or twice a year in North Texas, and once every few years in Central and East Texas. Snow falls south of San Antonio or on the coast only in rare circumstances. Of note is the 2004 Christmas Eve snowstorm, when 6 inches (150 mm) of snow fell as far south as Kingsville, where the average high temperature in December is 65 °F.
Maximum temperatures in the summer months average from the 80s °F (26 °C) in the mountains of West Texas and on Galveston Island to around 100 °F (38 °C) in the Rio Grande Valley, but most areas of Texas see consistent summer high temperatures in the 90 °F (32 °C) range.
Night-time summer temperatures range from the upper 50s °F (14 °C) in the West Texas mountains to 80 °F (27 °C) in Galveston.
The table below consists of averages for August (generally the warmest month) and January (generally the coldest) in selected cities in various regions of the state.
Average daily maximum and minimum temperatures for selected cities in Texas
Thunderstorms strike Texas often, especially the eastern and northern portions of the state. Tornado Alley covers the northern section of Texas. The state experiences the most tornadoes in the United States, an average of 139 a year. These strike most frequently in North Texas and the Panhandle. Tornadoes in Texas generally occur in the months of April, May, and June.
Some of the most destructive hurricanes in U.S. history have impacted Texas. A hurricane in 1875 killed about 400 people in Indianola, followed by another hurricane in 1886 that destroyed the town. These events allowed Galveston to take over as the chief port city. The 1900 Galveston hurricane subsequently devastated that city, killing about 8,000 people or possibly as many as 12,000. This makes it the deadliest natural disaster in U.S. history. In 2017, Hurricane Harvey made landfall in Rockport as a Category 4 Hurricane, causing significant damage there. The storm stalled over land for a very long time, allowing it to drop unprecedented amounts of rain over the Greater Houston area and surrounding counties. The result was widespread and catastrophic flooding that inundated hundreds of thousands of homes. Harvey ultimately became the costliest hurricane worldwide, causing an estimated $198.6 billion in damage, surpassing the cost of Hurricane Katrina.
There is no substantial physical barrier between Texas and the polar region. Although it is unusual, it is possible for arctic or polar air masses to penetrate Texas, as occurred during the February 13–17, 2021 North American winter storm. Usually, prevailing winds in North America will push polar air masses to the southeast before they reach Texas. Because such intrusions are rare, and, perhaps, unexpected, they may result in crises such as the 2021 Texas power crisis.
As of 2017, Texas emitted the most greenhouse gases in the U.S., almost twice the amount of California, the second-most polluting state. As of 2017 the state emits about 1,600 billion pounds (707 million metric tons) of carbon dioxide annually. As an independent state, Texas would rank as the world's seventh-largest producer of greenhouse gases. Causes of the state's vast greenhouse gas emissions include the state's large number of coal power plants and the state's refining and manufacturing industries. In 2010, there were 2,553 "emission events" which poured 44.6 million pounds (20,200 metric tons) of contaminants into the Texas sky.
Three interstate highways—I-35 to the west (Dallas–Fort Worth to San Antonio, with Austin in between), I-45 to the east (Dallas to Houston), and I-10 to the south (San Antonio to Houston) define the Texas Urban Triangle region. The region of 60,000 square miles (160,000 km2) contains most of the state's largest cities and metropolitan areas as well as 17 million people, nearly 75 percent of Texas's total population. Houston and Dallas have been recognized as world cities. These cities are spread out amongst the state.
In contrast to the cities, unincorporated rural settlements known as colonias often lack basic infrastructure and are marked by poverty. The office of the Texas Attorney General stated, in 2011, that Texas had about 2,294 colonias, and estimates about 500,000 lived in the colonias. Hidalgo County, as of 2011, has the largest number of colonias. Texas has the largest number of people living in colonias of all states.
Texas has 254 counties, which is more than any other state by 95 (Georgia). Each county runs on Commissioners' Court system consisting of four elected commissioners (one from each of four precincts in the county, roughly divided according to population) and a county judge elected at large from the entire county. County government runs similar to a "weak" mayor-council system; the county judge has no veto authority, but votes along with the other commissioners.
Although Texas permits cities and counties to enter "interlocal agreements" to share services, the state does not allow consolidated city-county governments, nor does it have metropolitan governments. Counties are not granted home rule status; their powers are strictly defined by state law. The state does not have townships—areas within a county are either incorporated or unincorporated. Incorporated areas are part of a municipality. The county provides limited services to unincorporated areas and to some smaller incorporated areas. Municipalities are classified either "general law" cities or "home rule". A municipality may elect home rule status once it exceeds 5,000 population with voter approval.
Texas also permits the creation of "special districts", which provide limited services. The most common is the school district, but can also include hospital districts, community college districts, and utility districts (one utility district near Austin was the plaintiff in a landmark Supreme Court case involving the Voting Rights Act). Municipal, school district, and special district elections are nonpartisan, though the party affiliation of a candidate may be well-known. County and state elections are partisan.
The United States Census Bureau determined the resident population of Texas was 29,145,505 at the 2020 U.S. census, a 15.9% increase since the 2010 United States census. At the 2020 census, the apportioned population of Texas stood at 29,183,290. The 2015 Texas Population Estimate program estimated the population was 27,469,114 on July 1, 2015. In 2010, Texas had a census population of 25,145,561. Texas is the second-most populous state in the United States after California and the only other U.S. state to surpass a total estimated population of 30 million people as of July 2, 2022.
In 2015, Texas had 4.7 million foreign-born residents, about 17% of the population and 21.6% of the state workforce. The major countries of origin for Texan immigrants were Mexico (55.1% of immigrants), India (5%), El Salvador (4.3%), Vietnam (3.7%), and China (2.3%). Of immigrant residents, some 35.8 percent were naturalized U.S. citizens. As of 2018, the population increased to 4.9 million foreign-born residents or 17.2% of the state population, up from 2,899,642 in 2000.
In 2014, there were an estimated 1.7 million undocumented immigrants in Texas, making up 35% of the total Texas immigrant population and 6.1% of the total state population. In addition to the state's foreign-born population, an additional 4.1 million Texans (15% of the state's population) were born in the United States and had at least one immigrant parent.
According to the American Community Survey's 2019 estimates, 1,739,000 residents were undocumented immigrants, a decrease of 103,000 since 2014 and increase of 142,000 since 2016. Of the undocumented immigrant population, 951,000 have resided in Texas from less than 5 up to 14 years. An estimated 788,000 lived in Texas from 15 to 19 and 20 years or more.
Texas's population density as of 2010 is 96.3 people per square mile (37.2 people/km2) which is slightly higher than the average population density of the U.S. as a whole, at 87.4 people per square mile (33.7 people/km2). In contrast, while Texas and France are similarly sized geographically, the European country has a population density of 301.8 people per square mile (116.5 people/km2). Of its dense population, two-thirds of all Texans live in major metropolitan areas such as Houston. The Dallas–Fort Worth metropolitan area is the largest in Texas. While Houston is the largest city in Texas and the fourth-largest city in the United States by population, the Dallas–Fort Worth metropolitan area is larger than the city and metropolitan area of Houston.
In 2010, 49% of all births were Hispanics; 35% were non-Hispanic whites; 11.5% were non-Hispanic blacks, and 4.3% were Asians/Pacific Islanders. Based on U.S. Census Bureau data released in February 2011, for the first time in recent history, Texas's white population is below 50% (45%) and Hispanics grew to 38%. Between 2000 and 2010, the total population grew by 20.6%, but Hispanics and Latino Americans grew by 65%, whereas non-Hispanic whites grew by only 4.2%. Texas has the fifth highest rate of teenage births in the nation and a plurality of these are to Hispanics or Latinos. Following continued population growth among people of color since the 2020 census alongside the 2022 Buffalo, NY mass shooting, concerns about racial and ethnic tensions were highlighted in some Texas newspapers regarding the extremist Great Replacement theory. As of 2022, Hispanics and Latinos of any race replaced the non-Hispanic white population as the largest share of the state's population.
At the 2020 American Community Survey's estimates, 64.9% of the population spoke only English, and 35.1% spoke a language other than English. Roughly 30% of the total population spoke Spanish. By 2021, approximately 50,546 Texans spoke French or a French-creole language. German and other West Germanic languages were spoken by 49,565 residents; Russian, Polish, and other Slavic languages by 37,444; Korean by 31,673; Chinese 86,370; Vietnamese 92,410; Tagalog 40,124; and Arabic by 47,170 Texans.
At the census of 2010, 65.8% (14,740,304) of Texas residents age5 and older spoke only English at home, while 29.2% (6,543,702) spoke Spanish, 0.8 percent (168,886) Vietnamese, and Chinese (which includes Cantonese and Mandarin) was spoken by 0.6% (122,921) of the population over five. Other languages spoken include German (including Texas German) by 0.3% (73,137), Tagalog with 0.3% (64,272) speakers, and French (including Cajun French) was spoken by 0.3% (55,773) of Texans. Reportedly, Cherokee is the most widely spoken Native American language in Texas. In total, 34.2% (7,660,406) of Texas's population aged five and older spoke a language at home other than English as of 2006.
Evangelical Protestants were 31% of the population in 2014, and Baptists were the largest Evangelical tradition (14%); according to the 2014 study, they made up the second largest Mainline Protestant group behind Methodists (4%). Nondenominational and interdenominational Protestant Christians were the second largest Evangelical group (7%) followed by Pentecostals (4%). The largest Evangelical Baptists in the state were the Southern Baptist Convention (9%) and independent Baptists (3%). The Assemblies of God USA was the largest Evangelical Pentecostal denomination in 2014. Among Mainline Protestants, the United Methodist Church was the largest denomination (4%) and the American Baptist Churches USA comprised the second largest Mainline Protestant group (2%).
Non-Christian faiths accounted for 4% of the religious population in 2014, and 5% in 2020 per the Pew Research Center and Public Religion Research Institute. Adherents of many other religions reside predominantly in the urban centers of Texas. Judaism, Islam, and Buddhism were tied as the second largest religion as of 2014 and 2020. In 2014, 18% of the state's population were religiously unaffiliated. Of the unaffiliated in 2014, an estimated 2% were atheists and 3% agnostic; in 2020, the Public Religion Research Institute noted the largest non-Christian groups were the irreligious (20%), Judaism (1%), Islam (1%), Buddhism (1%) and Hinduism, and other religions at less than 1 percent each.
In 1990, the Islamic population was about 140,000 with more recent figures putting the current number of Muslims between 350,000 and 400,000 as of 2012. The Association of Religion Data Archives estimated there were 313,209 Muslims as of 2020. Texas is the fifth-largest Muslim-populated state in the country as of 2014. The Jewish population was around 128,000 in 2008. In 2020, the Jewish population grew to over 176,000. According to ARDA's 2020 study, there were 43 Chabad synagogues; 17,513 Conservative Jews; 8,110 Orthodox Jews; and 31,378 Reform Jews. Around 146,000 adherents of religions such as Hinduism and Sikhism lived in Texas as of 2004. By 2020, there were 112,153 Hindus and 20 Sikh gurdwaras; 60,882 Texans adhered to Buddhism.
Texas's large population, an abundance of natural resources, thriving cities and leading centers of higher education have contributed to a large and diverse economy. Since oil was discovered, the state's economy has reflected the state of the petroleum industry. In recent times, urban centers of the state have increased in size, containing two-thirds of the population in 2005. The state's economic growth has led to urban sprawl and its associated symptoms.
As of May 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the state's unemployment rate was 13 percent.
In 2010, Site Selection Magazine ranked Texas as the most business-friendly state in the nation, in part because of the state's three-billion-dollar Texas Enterprise Fund. Texas has the highest number of Fortune 500 company headquarters in the United States as of 2022. In 2010, there were 346,000 millionaires in Texas, constituting the second-largest population of millionaires in the nation. In 2018, the number of millionaire households increased to 566,578.
Texas has a reputation for low taxes. According to the Tax Foundation, Texans' state and local tax burdens rank among the lowest in the nation, 7th lowest nationally; state and local taxes cost $3,580 per capita, or 8.4 percent of resident incomes. Texas is one of seven states that lack a state income tax.
Instead, the state collects revenue from property taxes (though these are collected at the county, city, and school district level; Texas has a state constitutional prohibition against a state property tax) and sales taxes. The state sales tax rate is 6.25 percent, but local taxing jurisdictions (cities, counties, special purpose districts, and transit authorities) may also impose sales and use tax up to 2percent for a total maximum combined rate of 8.25 percent.
Texas is a "tax donor state"; in 2005, for every dollar Texans paid to the federal government in federal income taxes, the state got back about $0.94 in benefits. To attract business, Texas has incentive programs worth $19 billion per year (2012); more than any other U.S. state.
Agriculture and mining
Texas has the most farms and the highest acreage in the United States. The state is ranked No. 1 for revenue generated from total livestock and livestock products. It is ranked No. 2 for total agricultural revenue, behind California. At $7.4 billion or 56.7 percent of Texas's annual agricultural cash receipts, beef cattle production represents the largest single segment of Texas agriculture. This is followed by cotton at $1.9 billion (14.6 percent), greenhouse/nursery at $1.5 billion (11.4 percent), broiler chickens at $1.3 billion (10 percent), and dairy products at $947 million (7.3 percent).
Texas leads the nation in the production of cattle, horses, sheep, goats, wool, mohair and hay. The state also leads the nation in production of cotton which is the number one crop grown in the state in terms of value. The state grows significant amounts of cereal crops and produce. Texas has a large commercial fishing industry. With mineral resources, Texas leads in creating cement, crushed stone, lime, salt, sand and gravel. Texas throughout the 21st century has been hammered by drought, costing the state billions of dollars in livestock and crops.
Ever since the discovery of oil at Spindletop, energy has been a dominant force politically and economically within the state. If Texas were its own country it would be the sixth largest oil producer in the world according to a 2014 study.
According to the Energy Information Administration, Texans consume, on average, the fifth most energy (of all types) in the nation per capita and as a whole, following behind Wyoming, Alaska, Louisiana, North Dakota, and Iowa.
Historically, Texas culture comes from a blend of Southern (Dixie), Western (frontier), and Southwestern (Mexican/Anglo fusion) influences, varying in degrees of such from one intrastate region to another. Texas is placed in the Southern United States by the United States Census Bureau. A popular food item, the breakfast burrito, draws from all three, having a soft flour tortilla wrapped around bacon and scrambled eggs or other hot, cooked fillings. Adding to Texas's traditional culture, established in the 18th and 19th centuries, immigration has made Texas a melting pot of cultures from around the world.
Texas has made a strong mark on national and international pop culture. The entire state is strongly associated with the image of the cowboy shown in westerns and in country western music. The state's numerous oil tycoons are also a popular pop culture topic as seen in the hit TV series Dallas.
The internationally known slogan "Don't Mess with Texas" began as an anti-littering advertisement. Since the campaign's inception in 1986, the phrase has become "an identity statement, a declaration of Texas swagger".
"Texas-sized" is an expression that can be used in two ways: to describe something that is about the size of the U.S. state of Texas, or to describe something (usually but not always originating from Texas) that is large compared to other objects of its type. Texas was the largest U.S. state until Alaska became a state in 1959. The phrase "everything is bigger in Texas" has been in regular use since at least 1950.
Since 1980, San Antonio has evolved into "The Tejano Music Capital Of The World". The Tejano Music Awards have provided a forum to create greater awareness and appreciation for Tejano music and culture.
The second president of the Republic of Texas, Mirabeau B. Lamar, is the Father of Texas Education. During his term, the state set aside three leagues of land in each county for equipping public schools. An additional 50 leagues of land set aside for the support of two universities would later become the basis of the state's Permanent University Fund. Lamar's actions set the foundation for a Texas-wide public school system.
Between 2006 and 2007, Texas spent $7,275 per pupil, ranking it below the national average of $9,389. The pupil/teacher ratio was 14.9, below the national average of 15.3. Texas paid instructors $41,744, below the national average of $46,593. The Texas Education Agency (TEA) administers the state's public school systems. Texas has over 1,000school districts; all districts except the Stafford Municipal School District are independent from municipal government and many cross city boundaries. School districts have the power to tax their residents and to assert eminent domain over privately owned property. Due to court-mandated equitable school financing for school districts, the state has a tax redistribution system called the "Robin Hood plan". This plan transfers property tax revenue from wealthy school districts to poor ones. The TEA has no authority over private or home school activities.
Generally prohibited in the West at large, school corporal punishment is not unusual in the more conservative, rural areas of the state, with 28,569 public school students paddled at least one time, according to government data for the 2011–2012 school year. The rate of school corporal punishment in Texas is surpassed only by Mississippi, Alabama, and Arkansas.
Texas's alternative affirmative action plan, Texas House Bill 588, guarantees Texas students who graduated in the top 10 percent of their high school class automatic admission to state-funded universities. This does not apply to The University of Texas at Austin, which automatically admits Texas students who graduated in the top 6 percent of their high school class. The bill encourages demographic diversity while attempting to avoid problems stemming from the Hopwood v. Texas (1996) case.
The state has sought to expand the number of flagship universities by elevating some of its seven institutions designated as "emerging research universities". The two expected to emerge first are the University of Houston and Texas Tech University, likely in that order according to discussions on the House floor of the 82nd Texas Legislature.
The state is home to various private institutions of higher learning—ranging from liberal arts colleges to a nationally recognized top-tier research university. Rice University in Houston is one of the leading teaching and research universities of the United States and is ranked the nation's 17th-best overall university by U.S. News & World Report.
Notwithstanding the concentration of elite medical centers in the state, The Commonwealth Fund ranks the Texas healthcare system the third worst in the nation. Texas ranks close to last in access to healthcare, quality of care, avoidable hospital spending, and equity among various groups. Causes of the state's poor rankings include politics, a high poverty rate, and the highest rate of illegal immigration in the nation. In May 2006, Texas initiated the program "code red" in response to the report the state had 25.1 percent of the population without health insurance, the largest proportion in the nation.
The Trust for America's Health ranked Texas 15th highest in adult obesity, with 27.2 percent of the state's population measured as obese. The 2008 Men's Health obesity survey ranked four Texas cities among the top 25 fattest cities in America; Houston ranked 6th, Dallas 7th, El Paso 8th, and Arlington 14th. Texas had only one city (Austin, ranked 21st) in the top 25 among the "fittest cities" in America. The same survey has evaluated the state's obesity initiatives favorably with a "B+". The state is ranked forty-second in the percentage of residents who engage in regular exercise according to a 2007 study.
Texas has the highest maternal mortality rate in the developed world, and the rate by which Texas women died from pregnancy-related complications doubled from 2010 to 2014, to 23.8 per 100,000 — a rate unmatched in any other U.S. state or economically developed country. In May 2021, the state legislature passed the Texas Heartbeat Act, which banned abortion from as early as six weeks of pregnancy, except to save the life of the mother. The Act allows private citizens to sue abortion providers and anyone else who assists in an abortion, except for the woman on whom the abortion is performed. The Act applies to pregnancies caused by incest or rape, although a clause prohibits the perpetrators from enforcing it with civil lawsuits. On August 25, 2022, another law took effect that made committing abortion at any stage of pregnancy a felony punishable by life in prison.
The Texas Medical Center in Houston, holds the world's largest concentration of research and healthcare institutions, with over 50 member institutions. Texas Medical Center performs the most heart transplants in the world. The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston is a highly regarded academic institution that centers around cancer patient care, research, education and prevention.
The state is an important transportation hub. From the Dallas/Fort Worth area, trucks can reach 93 percent of the nation's population within 48 hours, and 37 percent within 24 hours. Texas has 33 foreign trade zones (FTZ), the most in the nation. In 2004, a combined total of $298 billion of goods passed through Texas FTZs.
The first Texas freeway was the Gulf Freeway opened in 1948 in Houston. As of 2005, 79,535 miles (127,999 km) of public highway crisscrossed Texas (up from 71,000 miles (114,263 km) in 1984). To fund recent growth in the state highways, Texas has 17 toll roads (see list) with several additional tollways proposed. In Central Texas, the southern section of the State Highway 130 toll road has a speed limit of 85 miles per hour (137 km/h), the highest in the nation. All federal and state highways in Texas are paved.
Texas has 730 airports, second-most of any state in the nation. Largest in Texas by size and passengers served, Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) is the second-largest by area in the United States, and fourth in the world with 18,076 acres (73.15 km2). In traffic, DFW airport is the busiest in the state, the fourth busiest in the United States, and sixth worldwide.American Airlines Group's American / American Eagle, the world's largest airline in total passengers-miles transported and passenger fleet size, uses DFW as its largest and main hub. It ranks as the largest airline in the United States by number of passengers carried domestically per year and the largest airline in the world by number of passengers carried.Southwest Airlines, headquartered in Dallas, has its operations at Dallas Love Field.
Around 1,150 seaports dot Texas's coast with over 1,000 miles (1,600 km) of channels. Ports employ nearly one-million people and handle an average of 317 million metric tons. Texas ports connect with the rest of the U.S. Atlantic seaboard with the Gulf section of the Intracoastal Waterway. The Port of Houston today is the busiest port in the United States in foreign tonnage, second in overall tonnage, and tenth worldwide in tonnage. The Houston Ship Channel spans 530 feet (160 m) wide by 45 feet (14 m) deep by 50 miles (80 km) long.
Part of the state's tradition of cowboys is derived from the massive cattle drives which its ranchers organized in the nineteenth century to drive livestock to railroads and markets in Kansas, for shipment to the east. Towns along the way, such as Baxter Springs, the first cow town in Kansas, developed to handle the seasonal workers and tens of thousands of head of cattle being driven.
The first railroad to operate in Texas was the Buffalo Bayou, Brazos and Colorado Railway, opening in August 1853. The first railroad to enter Texas from the north, completed in 1872, was the Missouri–Kansas–Texas Railroad. With increasing railroad access, the ranchers did not have to take their livestock up to the Midwest and shipped beef out from Texas. This caused a decline in the economies of the cow towns.
Since 1911, Texas has led the nation in length of railroad miles within the state. Texas railway length peaked in 1932 at 17,078 miles (27,484 km), but declined to 14,006 miles (22,540 km) by 2000. While the Railroad Commission of Texas originally regulated state railroads, in 2005 the state reassigned these duties to TxDOT.
Amtrak provides Texas with limited intercity passenger rail service. Three scheduled routes serve the state: the daily Texas Eagle(Chicago–San Antonio); the tri-weekly Sunset Limited(New Orleans–Los Angeles), with stops in Texas; and the daily Heartland Flyer(Fort Worth–Oklahoma City). Texas may get one of the nation's first high-speed rail line. Plans for a privately funded high-speed rail line between Dallas and Houston have been planned by the Texas Central Railway company.
Government and politics
The current Texas Constitution was adopted in 1876. Like many states, it explicitly provides for a separation of powers. The state's Bill of Rights is much larger than its federal counterpart, and has provisions unique to Texas.
Texas has a plural executive branch system limiting the power of the governor, which is a weak executive compared to some other states. Except for the secretary of state, voters elect executive officers independently; thus candidates are directly answerable to the public, not the governor. This election system has led to some executive branches split between parties and reduced the ability of the governor to carry out a program. When Republican president George W. Bush served as Texas's governor, the state had a Democratic lieutenant governor, Bob Bullock. The executive branch positions consist of the governor, lieutenant governor, comptroller of public accounts, land commissioner, attorney general, agriculture commissioner, the three-member Texas Railroad Commission, the State Board of Education, and the secretary of state.
The bicameralTexas Legislature consists of the House of Representatives, with 150 members, and a Senate, with 31 members. The Speaker of the House leads the House, and the lieutenant governor, the Senate. The Legislature meets in regular session biennially for just over a hundred days, but the governor can call for special sessions as often as desired (notably, the Legislature cannot call itself into session). The state's fiscal year begins September1.
The Texas Ranger Division of the Texas Department of Public Safety is a law enforcement agency with statewide jurisdiction. Over the years, the Texas Rangers have investigated crimes ranging from murder to political corruption. They have acted as riot police and as detectives, protected the Texas governor, tracked down fugitives, and functioned as a paramilitary force both for the republic and for the state. The Texas Rangers were unofficially created by Stephen F. Austin in 1823 and formally constituted in 1835. The Rangers were integral to several important events of Texas history and some of the best-known criminal cases in the history of the Old West.
The Texas constitution defines the responsibilities of county governments, which serve as agents of the state. What are called commissioners court and court judges are elected to serve as the administrative arm. Most cities in the state, those over 5,000 in population, have home-rule governments. The vast majority of these have charters for council-manager forms of government, by which voters elect council members, who hire a professional city manager as an operating officer.
In the 1870s, white Democrats wrested power back in the state legislature from the biracial coalition at the end of Reconstruction. In the early 20th century, the legislature passed bills to impose poll taxes, followed by white primaries; these measures effectively disfranchised most blacks, poor whites and Mexican Americans. In the 1890s, 100,000 blacks voted in the state; by 1906, only 5,000 could vote. As a result, the Democratic Party dominated Texas politics from the turn of the century, imposing racial segregation and white supremacy. It held power until after passage in the mid-1960s of national civil rights legislation enforcing constitutional rights of all citizens.
Although Texas was essentially a one-party state during this time and the Democratic primary was viewed as "the real election", the Democratic Party had conservative and liberal factions, which became more pronounced after the New Deal. Additionally, several factions of the party briefly split during the 1930s and 1940s.
The state's conservative white voters began to support Republican presidential candidates by the mid-20th century. After this period, they supported Republicans for local and state offices as well, and most whites became Republican Party members. The party also attracted some minorities, but many have continued to vote for Democratic candidates. The shift to the Republican Party is much-attributed to the fact the Democratic Party became increasingly liberal during the 20th century, and thus increasingly out-of-touch with the average Texas voter. As Texas was always a conservative state, voters switched to the GOP, which now more closely reflected their beliefs. Commentators have also attributed the shift to Republican political consultant Karl Rove, who managed numerous political campaigns in Texas in the 1980s and 1990s. Other stated reasons included court-ordered redistricting and the demographic shift in relation to the Sun Belt that favored the Republican Party and conservatism.
The 2003 Texas redistricting of Congressional districts led by Republican Tom DeLay, was called by The New York Times "an extreme case of partisan gerrymandering". A group of Democratic legislators, the "Texas Eleven", fled the state in a quorum-busting effort to prevent the legislature from acting, but was unsuccessful. The state had already redistricted following the 2000 census. Despite these efforts, the legislature passed a map heavily in favor of Republicans, based on 2000 data and ignoring the estimated nearly one million new residents in the state since then. Career attorneys and analysts at the Department of Justice objected to the plan as diluting the votes of African American and Hispanic voters, but political appointees overrode them and approved it. Legal challenges to the redistricting reached the national Supreme Court in the case League of United Latin American Citizens v. Perry (2006), but the court ruled in favor of the state (and Republicans).
Texas voters lean toward fiscal conservatism, while enjoying the benefits of huge federal investment in the state in military and other facilities achieved by the power of the Solid South in the 20th century. They also tend to have socially conservative values.
Since 1980, most Texas voters have supported Republican presidential candidates. In 2000 and 2004, Republican George W. Bush won Texas with respectively 59.3 and 60.1 percent of the vote, partly due to his "favorite son" status as a former governor of the state. John McCain won the state in 2008, but with a smaller margin of victory compared to Bush at 55 percent of the vote. Austin, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio consistently lean Democratic in both local and statewide elections. Residents of counties along the Rio Grande closer to the Mexico–United States border, where there are many Latino residents, generally vote for Democratic Party candidates, while most other rural and suburban areas of Texas have shifted to voting for Republican Party candidates.
Texas has a reputation of very harsh criminal punishment for criminal offenses. It is one of the 32 states that practice capital punishment, and since the US Supreme Court allowed capital punishment to resume in 1976, 40% of all U.S. executions have taken place in Texas. As of 2018, Texas had the 8th highest incarceration rate in the U.S. Texas also has strong right of self-defense and self defense laws, allowing citizens to use lethal force to defend themselves, their families, or their property.
According to a survey of Division I-A coaches the rivalry between the University of Oklahoma and the University of Texas at Austin, the Red River Shootout, ranks the third-best in the nation. The TCU Horned Frogs and SMU Mustangs also share a rivalry and compete annually in the Battle for the Iron Skillet. A fierce rivalry, the Lone Star Showdown, also exists between the state's two largest universities, Texas A&M University and the University of Texas at Austin. The athletics portion of the Lone Star Showdown rivalry has been put on hold after the Texas A&M Aggies joined the Southeastern Conference.
^This figure refers to only the number of students paddled, regardless of whether a student was spanked multiple times in a year, and does not refer to the number of instances of corporal punishment, which would be substantially higher.
^Based on the industry-standard measure of revenue passenger-kilometers/miles flown.
^Oakah L. Jones, Los Paisanos: Spanish Settlers on the Northern Frontier of New Spain, University of Oklahoma Press (1996), p. 277, citing a document dated November 5, 1730.
^Joseph de Laporte, El viagero universal: Ó, Noticia del mundo antiguo y nuevo vol. 27 (1799), p. 114.
^"Texas. Grafía recomendada para el nombre de este estado norteamericano. Su pronunciación correcta es , no . Se recomienda escribir asimismo con x el gentilicio correspondiente: texano. Son también válidas las grafías con j (Tejas, tejano), de uso mayoritario en España." Diccionario panhispánico de dudas,
Real Academia Española (2005), s.v. Texas.
^"Tarlton Law Library: Constitution of the Republic of Texas (1836): General Provisions". tarlton.law.utexas.edu. Retrieved December 28, 2020. No free person of African descent, either in whole or in part, shall be permitted to reside permanently in the Republic, without the consent of Congress, and the importation or admission of Africans or negroes into this Republic, excepting from the United States of America, is forever prohibited, and declared to be piracy.
^"The Archives War". Texas Treasures- The Republic. The Texas State Library and Archives Commission. November 2, 2005. Retrieved January 3, 2009.
^ abAndrew J. Torget (2015). Seeds of Empire: Cotton, Slavery, and the Transformation of the Texas Borderlands, 1800–1850. The University of North Carolina Press. ISBN978-1469624242.
^Pettit, Gwen. "Between the Creeks"(PDF). texashistory.unt.edu. Retrieved December 28, 2020. The Southern states, especially the hills of Tennessee and Alabama, were impoverished; war tensions still split neighborhoods. Soon, empty houses had crude signs that stated that the former inhabitants had "Gone to Texas." Church records, also, had the phrase, "Gone to Texas" by numerous names on their roles. So many families left Maury County, Tenn., to settle in eastern Collin County, just across East Fork, that several communities, such as Culleoka, have names directly from south Maury County. That group joined relatives that had come here in the 1850s. Most new immigrants had some link to Collin County, which brought them here. They stayed with relatives and friends until they could find a place to settle. Landowners recruited farmers from the old states by persuading relatives and former neighbors to come. However, numerous families, in the pioneer tradition, loaded their children and belongings in a wagon and headed toward the unknown west. Clarksville, Bonham and Dallas newspapers reported how many wagons passed through each day and how many were camped on the "jockey yards" waiting to find a place to settle. Some of these had sold farms and had money to buy land, but most of these immigrants became tenant farmers and worked on shares.
^"TSHA | Lumber Industry". www.tshaonline.org. Retrieved December 28, 2020. But relatively, the industry's status is far below its dominant position at the beginning of the twentieth century. Then it was the state's largest manufacturing enterprise, first among Texas industries in generating income, and the largest employer of labor in the Lone Star State.
^"'War against war': Americans for peace in World War I – National Constitution Center". National Constitution Center – constitutioncenter.org. Retrieved December 28, 2020. Morris Hillquit sought to keep alive the ties of his Socialist Party to its comrades abroad. Senator Robert La Follette filled many a speech with praise for progressives in other countries who shared his hatred for militarism. Henry Ford chartered an ocean liner to transport himself and dozens of other activists across the Atlantic, where they lobbied neutral governments to embrace a peace plan they would press on the warring powers. These Americans, like most critics of the war elsewhere in the world, wanted to create a new global order based on cooperative relationships between nation states and their gradual disarmament. Militarism, they argued, isolated peoples behind walls of mutual fear and loathing. Until April 1917, this formidable coalition of idealists—or realists—did much to keep the nation at peace. They may even have had a majority of Americans on their side until just weeks before Congress, at Wilson's behest, voted to declare war. To prevent that from happening, peace activists pressed for a national referendum on the question, confident that "the people" would recoil from fighting and paying the bills in order to help one group of European powers conquer another.
^Blanton, Carlos Kevin (2005). "The Campus and the Capitol: John B. Connally and the Struggle over Texas Higher Education Policy, 1950–1970". Southwestern Historical Quarterly. 108 (4): 468–497. ISSN0038-478X.
^"Geology". www.nhnct.org. Retrieved December 28, 2020.
^"Late Cretaceous and Tertiary Burial History, Central Texas"(PDF). www.gcags.org. 2016. Retrieved December 28, 2020. Fault displacement decreases steadily to the north of Austin and to the west of San Antonio; Balcones faulting dies out about halfway between Waco and Dallas, and about halfway between Uvalde and Del Rio.
^"Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston". www.archgh.org. Retrieved March 3, 2022. The Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston...… serves 1.7 million-plus Catholics.… is the first and oldest diocese in Texas, established by Pope Pius IX in 1847, when Galveston was named the mother diocese of the Lone Star State.
^"Texas State Energy Profile: Electricity". U.S. Energy Information Administration. Retrieved July 23, 2015. Texas produces more electricity than any other state, generating almost twice as much as the next largest generating state.
^Laura M. Maruschak; Todd D. Minton (2020). "Appendix Table 1"(PDF). Correctional Populations in the United States, 2017–2018. Washington, D.C.: Bureau of Justice Statistics, United States Department of Justice. Retrieved March 21, 2021.