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In 1720 Spanish troops invaded Texas.
Mexico gained its independence from Spain in 1821. At that time its borders stretched much further north and covered many areas now in the southern United States of America. Many United States citizens settled in Texas, which belonged to Mexico, and in 1835 Texas declared its independence.
The Texans appointed Sam Houston as their military commander. Sam Houston was born in 1793. He captured the town of San Antonio. His opponent, the Mexican general Santa Anna, then led a large Mexican army into Texas to crush the rebellion. He laid siege to the Alamo, a mission in the centre of San Antonio.
Davy Crockett was one of the defenders of the Alamo, which as well as being a mission was sometimes used as a fort. It became a symbol of Texan resistance during the war against Mexico. About 180 Texans defended the Alamo for 11 days in 1836 against the Mexican army led by General Santa Anna. Only two women and two children survived. Other heroes killed at the Alamo include Jim Bowie (who invented the Bowie hunting knife) and William Travis. They had to use their guns as clubs because they ran out of ammunition during the siege.
After laying siege to the Alamo, Santa Anna won San Antonio back, but was defeated by Houston's forces at the battle of San Jacinto in 1836. Texas became an independent republic. Sam Houston was elected its president between 1836-1838 and 1841-1844. It was known as the 'Lone Star' republic. After a few years of independence, the people of Texas voted to join the United States. Texas became the 28th state on 29 December, 1845. In 1859 Sam Houston was elected the Governor, and he died in 1863.
Clashes between the Texans and Mexicans continued as Texas tried to increase its territory. The US president sent troops to the Rio Grande, invading land still claimed by Mexico. The Mexicans resisted, and the Mexican-American War broke out. US troops captured the capital, Mexico City, in 1847, and the Mexicans surrendered.
The treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo, which ended the war, was signed in 1848. It gave the United States huge new territories, including the modern states of California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona and some of New Mexico, as well as Texas.
Today Texas measures 691,030 sq km, more than three times the size of Britain, and has a population of 16,991,000. Its capital is Austin and the state flower is the bluebonnet. Oil has generated wealth in Texas since 1901. As well as extensive flat plains with cattle ranches, there are cotton fields, dense forests and craggy mountains. The biggest cities are Dallas, San Antonio and Houston, the headquarters of NASA.
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