On January 29, 1861 the citizens of Texas voted to secede from the Union. The ordinance was to go into effect on March 2 –- the birthday of the Republic of Texas.
This is a very unique and significant event in American history. Here’s why:
- Most of us think of the United States as “one nation, indivisible,” but this line from the Pledge of Allegiance was not penned until 1892. Before the Civil War, people said “the United States are…”, not “the United States is… ” The southern states felt justified in leaving the Union because, in their understanding, the United States was a union of sovereign states. When the goals of the group no longer worked to their benefit, they withdrew.
- Texas was a sovereign nation before becoming a state. That’s why the Lone Star flag flies at equal height to the American Stars and Stripes. (Other states fly their flags lower than the national flag.) It is significant that Texas’ secession went into effect on the birthday of the Republic of Texas.
- When Texas became a state again after the Civil War, it retained the right to subdivide into as many as five states. Some say they retained the right to secede. If you’re up for a bit of research, see if this is true or if it is merely rumor and bold talk.
Teaching Tip #1: The balance of States’ Rights vs. Central Government is still a controversy! Find examples of this issue in current news and discuss the strengths and weaknesses of each position.
Teaching Tip #2: As you’re driving around town, notice how the Texas flag is displayed. How many states besides Texas were a sovereign nation before becoming a state? If you find others, do their flags fly at equal height with the American flag?
Teaching Tip #3: Some say Texas still has a right to secede. Read this news article from 2009. What do you think motivated former Governor Perry to say this? Is it possible? Would it be wise? (Please note: I take no public position, but as this issue comes up every few years, it seems worthy of enlightened discussion.)