Pennsylvania Petition in Favor of the Annexation of Texas, 1844

Claiming Texas

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by Kathryn Siefker, Associate Curator of Exhibition Content

Texas is ours, having purchased it from France, it being a part and parcel of the Louisiana purchase made by Mr. Jefferson in 1803.

– Citizens of Philadelphia City and County, 1844

Since becoming an independent republic in 1836, the citizens of Texas had sought annexation to the United States. The majority of Texas's voting population was from the U.S. and they were anxious to be granted statehood.

After being denied several times, in 1844 the political climate of the United States finally seemed right to make Texas a state. To show their support, the citizens of Philadelphia signed and sent this petition to the United States Congress. They argued, "her people being . . . flesh of our flesh, and bone of our bone," the United States ought to "throw the mantle of our Constitution over and around and embrace her as a member of our great and glorious Confederacy."

From the perspective of many Americans at the time, Texas rightfully belonged to the United States. Americans supporting statehood felt that Texas was included in the 1803 Louisiana Purchase from France, believing as the Pennsylvanians wrote, "Mr. Jefferson, Mr. Madison, Mr. Monroe, and Mr. Adams all contended that Texas was as clearly included in the Louisiana Purchase as New Orleans."

Spain saw things differently. Early in 1800, when ownership of Louisiana territory was transferred from Spain to France, the boundaries of the territory were not clearly defined. Spain had not intended to include Texas in the transfer. The United States believed Texas had been included when they purchased the territory from France in 1803.

Regardless of who politically possessed Texas in 1803, the United States renounced its claim to the region when it agreed to the 1819 Adams-Onís Treaty. The treaty defined clear boundaries between the United States and Spain's North American lands (see photo gallery map). Those boundaries remained in effect between the U.S. and Mexico after Mexico's independence from Spain in 1821. Even so, the men who signed this petition continued to believe Texas had been "actually and absolutely in our possession for 16 years until 1819, when we ceded it without the consent of her citizens to Spain, hence it has virtually been ours since."

Those in favor of annexation won. By one vote, the U.S. Senate passed the resolution to admit Texas on February 27, 1845. The following day, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly did the same. Texas voters approved annexation by a vote of 7,664 to 430 and Texas officially became the 28th state on December 29, 1845.

 

See this and other artifacts on the Interactive Texas Map

Pennsylvania Petition in Favor of the Annexation of Texas, 1844 Artifact from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
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