Great Britain's victory over France in the Seven Years' War (1756–1763) meant that France was no longer a colonial power in North America. When they lost they had to give up all their territory and go back to France. Without a French threat, Spanish officials believed there was no need for Spain to maintain its missions in Texas. The Spanish government took a tour of New Spain and discovered there was a great difference in what Spain claimed, and what they could actually control. They had neither the wealth nor the power to defend all the missions,so they began to close them.
They ordered settlers in East Texas to leave their homes and move to the missions at San Antonio and Goliad. Once in San Antonio, which became the capital of Texas in the early 1770s, the newcomers were unhappy. They found that the best farm land was already taken. Many grew homesick and began asking to go home. Finally they were allowed to return east as far as the Trinity River. Led by Antonio Gil Ybarbo, in 1774 the group founded Bucareli in present-day MadisonCounty. However, serious problems soon followed .Ybarbo described the situation in a letter…
“On the night of February 14, the river went out of its banks and inundated [flooded] everything on both sides. . . [The women and children] were got out on boards and doors and taken to the highest point in the vicinity [area], where a few days later the Comanche fell upon us.”
In 1779, Ybarbo and the others decided to move father east, founding the town of Nacogdoches near the abandoned Mission Guadalupe. The town quickly grew. It was set deep in the Piney Woods and thus was not as exposed to attack from American Indians that were hostile toward settlers. In addition, the Tejas who lived in the area were friendly to the Spanish. Nacogdoches developed a brisk trade with Louisiana and nearby Texas Indians. Although Spain did not allow such trade, Nacogdoches was far from officials in San Antonio. The town soon became the main gateway for people and goods entering Texas from Louisiana.
While Spain was wrestling with its problems in Texas, the colonists east of the Mississippi River were becoming increasing unhappy with their foreign ruler, Great Britain.
Great Britainwould send tax money paid by the colonists back to Britainto help pay for wars in Europe. The colonists thought some of that money should be used to help out the America colonies. When the King refused, the colonists unite together to fight for their freedom from Britain.
In 1776, the two started a war called the American Revolution. Both Spain and France supported the American colonists during the war. Spain helped the American troops with weapons, clothing, money, and medical supplies.
In 1783, British and American leaders signed a peace treaty, and Britain recognized the United States as an independent nation. The new United States of America controlled all the states on the eastern seaboard except Florida,whichstill belonged to Spain.
The United States was grateful to Spain for helping them win the war, so they gave them the Louisiana territory. However, in 1800, Spainwas forced to give Louisiana back to France because it could not afford to control all that land. Spainmade a deal with France to give back the land, but France had to promise to not to give it to a third party.
But in 1803,France sold the Louisiana territory to the United States for about $15 million. This was called the Louisiana Purchase and it doubled the size of the United States. With the purchase of Louisiana, Anglos pushed across the Mississippi River toward Spanish-held Texas.
There was a boundary dispute between the United States and Spain about the boundary between Spanish Texas and Louisianawhich resulted in the Adams-Onís Treaty. They both claimed the same land on the eastern side of Texas. Neither side wanted to go to war, so they agreed to a compromise. Spain transferredFlorida to the United States and the U.S. agreed to surrender all claims to Texas. After the treaty many Americans migrated into Spanish Texas. Some were farmers and ranchers who came to settle but others were filibusters who plotted to seize control of Texas.
In early 1810, a movement for independence began to grow in Mexico. Many Mexicans became unhappy with their Spanish rulers because the best jobs in Mexicowere reserved for the Spanish administrators and Spain increased Mexican taxes to help pay for their wars in Europe.
On September 16, 1810,Father Miguel Hidalgo,a Mexican priest, issued a call for freedom from Spanish rule. He and his followers believed Mexico should gain theirindependence from Spain and begin their own nation. Hidalgo was captured and killed but his men pressed on and continued to fight.
Mexico also wantedto liberateTexas from Spanish rule. A Hidalgo supporter went to the U.S. for money and supplies, and invaded Texas to free it from the Spanish. In 1812,an armywas established called the Republican Army of the North by an American army lieutenant and Mexican forces.By August 1812, the army including Tejanos, American Indians, and Anglo Americans captured Nacogdoches, Goliad in November, and finally San Antonio after the Spanish surrendered.
Soon, however, trouble arouse within the Republican Army when Texans and Mexicans disagreed on the type of government they should have. Texans favored a government like the United States with elected officials, but Mexicans wanted a government with appointed officialsmuch like New Spain.
One of the best known American- filibusters, James Long, was like many U.S. citizens and disagreed with the Adams-Onis Treaty. They thought Texas should either be its own nation or should join the U.S. American leaders then began pushing Texas to either join the U.S. or to become their own nation and leave Mexico and Spain behind.
Long and his followers objected to the United States surrendering its claim to Texas. In 1819, he led a force of 300 men to Nacogdoches and tried to declare it free and independent. Long then went to seek the help of Jean Laffite, a French pirate. When Laffite refused to help him,Long returned to Nacogdochesonly to find his forces under attacked by a large number of Spanish troops.
Long then fled to Louisiana where he began working with some rebel forces fighting to free Mexico from Spain. His base of operation was Point Bolivar, across from GalvestonIsland. In 1821, He returnedonce again with more recruits to capture Goliad but was again defeated. Long went to jail in Mexico City and was later shot by a Mexican soldier.
When James Long left for his final attack on Goliad he left his pregnant wife, Jane, behind at Point Bolivar. There she gave birth to their third child who was possibly the first United States citizen born in Texas. Long eventually learned of her husband’s death.
Although Spain had owned Texas for over 300 yearsthey had been unable to attract many Spanish settlers. There was no gold or silver to lure fortune hunters and farmers preferred more fertile soil in California and Mexico. There were also unfriendly American Indians in Texas who showed little interest in Spanish culture and religion.
For these reasons Spanish authorities had historically neglected the province of Texas. Only San Antonio, Goliad, and Nacogdoches were settled and vast stretches of northern and western Texas lay unoccupied or were controlled by nomadic American Indians.
Despite not populating the region, Spain left its mark on Texas. Many places in Texas have Spanish names. Most rivers and bays were named by the Spanish for exampleGalvestonBay and the Rio GrandeRiver. Dozens of cities like Amarillo, El Paso, San Antonio and Del Riowere also named by the Spanish.
Spaniards laid out the first roads, often over old trails used by the American Indians. The best known of these roads was El Camino Real, later known as the Old San Antonio Road. Another early road was the Atascocita Road, which was used for military purposes by 1760.
They brought horses, cattle, sheep and pigs to Texas. Texans used the Spanish ranching system, its practices, methods, and equipment like lariats and chaps. In addition, Spanish vaqueros introduced many ranching practices and made the first long cattle drives from South Texas to markets in Louisiana.
In Texas, settlers adapted Spanish customs such as their language, architecture, systems of law and government, and religion to the frontier. Their adjustments formed the beginning of a distinct Tejano culture that continues today.
The story of the Spanish settlers did not end when Mexico gained its independence. Many remained in Texas and others later immigrated from Mexico. Nearly 6 million Texans today have Spanish names; many speak, read, and write Spanish.
In September 1821, Mexico finally became independent from Spain and the province of Texas became part of this new country. From 1821-1836 the Mexican flag would fly over Texas