In 1861, Texas voted to secede from the Union and became the seventh state. However, the history of the Texas secessionist movement goes even further back and may be surprising. Even today, many people in Texas want to rekindle the secessionist movement.
Texas originally seceded from the Union after voting on February 1, 1861, before the start of the Civil War. By 1865, the Confederacy was defeated, and in 1870, Texas officially rejoined the Union. The case of Taxes v. White ruled that states could not unilaterally secede from the U.S.
Has Texas Seceded From the Union?
Texas joined what was known as The Confederate States of America after a state convention voted to leave the Union. The votes were tallied to 166 in favor of secession, with 8 votes against it. Governor Sam Houston was against the vote and wanted Texas to remain part of the Union.
- Texas was one of seven states to leave in the initial secession.
- The other six states were Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, and South Carolina.
- Governor Sam Houston refused to take an oath to the Confederacy and was replaced.
- They left the Union before Abraham Lincoln took office in March 1861
- Texans feared enslaved people would revolt after abolitionist John Brown raided the federal armory in Virginia
- The vote cited the issue of a slave insurrection as the primary reason for leaving.
After joining the Civil War, Texas mainly supplied soldiers and horses to the Confederate Army. However, they did see some fighting east of the Mississippi Rover. The Confederacy was defeated in 1865.
In 1870, only nine years after they voted to secede, Texas officially rejoined the Union. President Grant signed the act to readmit Texas to Congressional Representation on March 30.
Texas has a Texas State Constitution of 1876, which they retain as their State Constitution. However, it has gone through several amendments.
What Caused Texas to Secede?
Texas had already seceded from Mexico before it later seceded from the Union.
The Republic of Texas
Texas had already seceded once before—from Mexico. In the 19th century, a collection of Hispanic Texans and U.S. colonists in Texas rebelled against the government of Mexico.
- Mexico had initially invited Americans to settle on the land
- The settlers petitioned Mexico for statehood
- After several terrible skirmishes, Mexican president Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna signed the Treaty of Velasco, which made Texas an independent Republic.
Sam Houston was an essential part of this movement. He would become the first and, remarkably, the third president of the Republic of Texas. Later, he would become the first person to represent Texas in the Union.
The State of Texas
In 1861, eleven states seceded from the Union, with Texas being one of the initial seven. These states joined together and called themselves the Confederate States of America. The ruling body of the Union refused to accept this Confederacy, and thus the Civil War began.
The Confederate movement ended after the Union armies destroyed their forces, and the war ended in 1865
There were many reasons for the secession, but most centered on slavery and land use.
- The Northern states had begun the process of abolition, and the Southern states did not want to lose the labor of enslaved people.
- John Brown, an abolitionist, led a raid against the Harpers Ferry federal armory, which became the impetus for the Civil War.
- Texas feared enslaved people would fight for their freedom, citing this as the main factor in their vote to secede.
Even after the end of the Civil War, Texas codified laws that did not extend equal rights to people of all races. Later, this was changed with the United Civil Rights Act of 1866; the Texas Constitutional Convention did not ratify the Thirteenth Amendment, which was to outlaw slavery.
Did Texas Ever Rejoin the Union?
Texas did eventually rejoin the Union officially. After the Civil War ended in 1865, Texas became part of the Fifth Military District with Louisiana, a temporary administrative district during Reconstruction.
In March 1867, Ulysses S. Grant was made the 18th President of the United States. By March 30, 1870, Texas was readmitted to the United States. This saw the end of military control in Texas.
What Would Happen if Texas Seceded Now?
While the U.S. Constitution does not make secession provisions, certain political parties in Texas regularly bring it up as a talking point. It is improbable, as the Supreme Court ruled that states cannot unilaterally secede from the Union after the case of Texas v. White.
However, if another attempt at secession were to succeed, it would be unlikely to go well for Texas. It will likely start a guerrilla war and counterinsurgency efforts as the U.S. army moves to reoccupy.
Professor Richard Albert of the University of Texas at Austin believes any successful attempt at secession now would result in war.
Even if Texas were successful, there would be many other considerations, such as national debt, U.S. trade agreements, immigration codes, and the problem of a stable currency.
The desire for secession in Texas is a minority viewpoint. It would remain so as the high exit costs became clear.
Texas Seceded FAQs
When Did Texas Become a U.S. State Again?
As of March 1930, 1870, Texas representatives were permitted to rejoin the Union and take their seats in Congress.
The Pledge of Allegiance states: “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America. one Nation indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” And this includes Texas as part of that “One nation indivisible.”
Is Texas the Only State That Can Still Secede?
You may have encountered a prevalent myth that Texas remains the only state in the Union with the right to secede. According to associate professor of government Eric McDaniel, who works at the University of Texas, “the legality of seceding is problematic.”
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia said in 2006 that the Civil War resolved the question of the right to secede.
How Many Times Has Texas Tried to Secede?
Since the 1990s, various organizations have tried to revive interest in a secessionist movement, with no success. The last attempt was in June 2022 by The Republican Party of Texas, which wants a referendum in 2023.
- Texas seceded 1861: history.com
- The Texas Revolution: en.wikipedia.org
- Texas v. White: tile.loc.gov
- Legality of seceding: ksat.com
- Texas rejoins Union 1870: tsl.texas.gov
- Later attempts at secession: deseret.com
Christian Linden is a seasoned writer and contributor at Texas View, specializing in topics that resonate with the Texan community. With over a decade of experience in journalism, Christian brings a wealth of knowledge in local politics, culture, and lifestyle. He holds a Bachelor's degree in Communications from the University of Texas. When he's not writing, Christian enjoys spending weekends traveling across Texas with his family, exploring everything from bustling cities to serene landscapes.