The first inhabitants of this land now called Texas arrived here around 10,000 B.C; they hunted giant bison and mammoths, and over many centuries a wide variety of Indian cultures developed and prospered. These earliest Texans arrived via the ice bridge that once spanned from Russia to Alaska, and then traveled south to somewhat milder climates.
The Spanish began their conquest of Texas in 1519 when Alonso Álvarez de Pineda mapped the coastline. In 1528, Cabeza de Vaca shipwrecked near Galveston, would later refer to his discoveries in Texas as the "Seven Cities of Gold" and the legend quickly grew.
Searching for those "Cities" the Spanish explorer Coronado scoured much of the southwest; he never found them, but Spain's claim on the land grew stronger and their first mission, Corpus Christi de la Isleta, was established near present-day El Paso in 1682.
In 1685, LaSalle, the French explorer, arrived along the Gulf of Mexico coastline and he established Fort St. Louis on the edge of Matagorda Bay. This was the first claim in Texas by the French. LaSalle was later killed by his own men, and within five years Indians attacks and diseases virtually wiped out the French forces.
Beginning in 1690 the Spanish established a large series of Catholic missions across the southwest. In 1718 the Mission San Antonio de Valero, (the Alamo) was built on a plot of land in present-day San Antonio and some original parts of this historic place still stand.
Mexico gained independence from Spain in 1821, and Stephen F. Austin, known as "The Father of Texas" received permission from the Mexican government to form a colony in southeast Texas; this was the first official Anglo-American settlement in the area.
Years went quickly by and soon regional tensions escalated because of cultural, political and religious differences between the upstart American settlers and the Mexican government. Mexico sent troops to tighten their control, and on October 2, 1835, the first battle for Texas independence, the Battle of Gonzales took place.
On March 6, 1836, the historic Battle of the Alamo was over and all of the brave defenders of Texas (about 190) were slaughtered by a Mexican army estimated at 4,000 to 5,000 soldiers strong. Texan heroes killed included David Crockett, Jim Bowie and William B. Travis.
The Texas Declaration of Independence was enacted that same year and the final battle with Mexico, the Battle of San Jacinto (resulting in Texas' independence from Mexico) took place near Houston; General Santa Anna's entire Mexican force of 1,600 was killed or captured by General Sam Houston's army of 800 Texans; only nine Texans died.
Sam Houston, a Virginia native, went on to become President of the Republic of Texas twice. Through his efforts, Texas was subsequently annexed to the United States as the 28th state on December 29, 1845.
During America's Civil War, Texas seceded and joined the Confederate States of America. Several battles were fought on its soil and on June 19th, 1865, (as the war was ending) General Gordon Granger, commander of the U.S. troops in Texas, arrived in Galveston and issued the order that the Emancipation Proclamation was now in place, thus ending slavery in Texas.
After the period of reconstruction, Texas was readmitted to the United States on March 30, 1870. The present state constitution was ratified on February 15, 1876.
During its rich history there have flown six flags over Texas, including those of Spain, France, United Mexican States, the Confederate States of America, the Republic of Texas and the United States of America. With all the history-changing events that have taken place in Texas, it's no surprise that 11,621 historical markers are found within its borders.
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