Resolution, General Assembly of Massachusetts, 1844

Massachusetts resolves NOT to admit Texas

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By Tom Wancho, Exhibit Planner

As early as 1836 and during the Republic’s entire existence, annexation was a hot-button topic of discussion that divided the United States. While the idea of annexing Texas was popular in the South, it was opposed by many Northern states who did not want to add another slaveholding state to the Union.

That attitude is reflected in this resolution that the state of Massachusetts adopted and sent to the U.S. Congress in January 1844:

Resolved, That, under no circumstances whatsoever, can the people of Massachusetts regard the proposition to admit Texas into the Union in any other light than as dangerous to its continuance in peace, in prosperity, and in the enjoyment of those blessings which it is the object of a free Government to secure.

Massachusetts’s opposition was led by John Quincy Adams (1767–1848), the former President of the United States who was serving in the House of Representatives as a Massachusetts congressman. Adams was the most outspoken abolitionist in the country and made it his life’s work to oppose what he called the tragic follies of his era. 

If the fundamental principles in the Declaration of Independence, as self-evident truths, are real truths, the existence of slavery, in any form, is a wrong. John Quincy Adams

Adams led a campaign to stop any talk of annexing Texas, saying the Republic was nothing but the “misbegotten and illegitimate progeny” of the slaveholding South. Adams believed that Texas still legally belonged to Mexico, and he fought attempts to put the United States in the position of annexing part of another country. During a 22-day filibuster in the House of Representatives, he blocked the annexation of Texas in 1838. He was not as successful in 1845 when the issue came up again.

On December 16, 1845, the U.S. House voted 141–58 with 21 abstaining to annex Texas. President James K. Polk made it official on December 29, 1845 and Texas became the nation’s 28th state. 

The lone star of Texas, which 10 years since arose amid cloud, over fields of carnage, and obscurely shone for a while, has culminated, and, following an inscrutable destiny, has passed on and become fixed forever in that glorious constellation which all freemen and lovers of freedom in the world must reverence and adore — the American Union. Republic of Texas President Anson Jones, February 19, 1846

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Resolution, General Assembly of Massachusetts, 1844 Artifact from Boston, Massachusetts
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