Today is Texas Independence Day! On March 2, 1836, Texas declared their independence from Mexico and what a great 184 years it has been! Texas is, as the ad states, “Like a whole other country.” And I think we pride ourselves on that. While we see ourselves as just lovely people, always willing to help out and listen, cooperative and genteel to the max, the other 49 states see us as boisterous, boot brandishing braggarts, who don’t know when to stop talking. But, as Will Sonnet (otherwise known as Walter Brennan) said, “No brag. Just fact.”
Is it really bragging at all if it is true? We are the largest state in the contiguous United States, which is a clever way of saying Alaska just does not count. Texas has 268,000 square miles and is the undisputed heavy weight of the lower 48 (Which would make a great bumper sticker!) Texas is big enough that you could fit the 10 smallest states in the union, plus California within our borders and still have room for an additional New Jersey (Really? Does anyone really want an additional New Jersey??).
The Spanish claimed Texas in the 1500s, but were unable to settle and maintain any real occupation beyond San Antonio, and trust me, there is a whole lot of Texas beyond San Antonio. In 1820, Spain allowed the Anglo-American settlers to move into this Holy Land on the Brazos and establish towns. A year later, Mexico was awarded their independence from Spain, and here I will be real honest. I never knew Spain ever was in charge of Mexico! I must have dozed off during that portion of history class. But, anyway, after this independence was gained for Mexico, they were all busy hootin’ and hollerin’ and not really paying too much attention to what was going on up north. When the celebrations finally died down, Mexico realized that Texas was now occupied by way too many Anglo Americans who had no interest in speaking Spanish or paying Mexican taxes or customs. Mexico quickly sent troops up to rectify this situation and teach us a thing or two in 1835. And, in 1836 Texas was free at last. Remember the Alamo? Yeah, that was a part of this pathway to independence.
Of all the states in the Union, Texas is the only one that can truly boast the fact that we once were a country on our own. Why we let that slip through out grasp is an absolute mystery to me! And with that being said, could we ever, in fact secede from the Union, as we threaten periodically? Well, the answer is that yes we could, but we are no more able to do this than, say Maine. But, we can become five separate states, if we want to. Why would we want to give up our status as the largest state in the lower 48? (See above) Well, after giving this some thought, there is always the possibility that we might want to separate ourselves from “them dern hippies in Austin” at some point. Not suggesting we pursue this at all. Just something to file away for later. Not ruling anything out at this point.
When Texas was a country on its own, it was just a non-stop headache. The Mexican Army was constantly aggravating us from the south. The Comanche Indians were pushing their weight around in this part of the state. Really, running your own country was quite tiring and time consuming. And, I really hate to say this, but at the time Texas became a state, money was a huge issue. Deep in the heart of Texas, Texas was deep in debt. It always comes back to money!
There are a whopping 254 counties in the state of Texas. The smallest county is Rockwall County which boast 149 square miles, which is smaller than many large cities. The largest county in Texas is Brewster County, which measures 6,192 square miles, which is about the size of Connecticut and Rhode Island. Houston County can boast of having the most people, to the tune of 4.5 million, while Loving County has 113 people.
Texas has its own official . . . everything! We all know that the State Flower is the Bluebonnet and the State Bird is the Mocking Bird. But, did you know there is also an official State Mammal (small) and State Mammal (large) and State Mammal (flying)?? Yes. Yes there is. Armadillo, Longhorn and Mexican free-tailed bat, in that order.
You probably knew we had a State Dish, which would of course be chili without beans. But, did you know we also have a State Cooking Implement? The Dutch Oven owns this title. Cotton is the State Fiber and Fabric, of course, and the Guadalupe Bass lays claim to the State Fish title. Perhaps, the most obscure of all these Official State whatevers is the Official Texas State Molecule – the Buckyball or Buckminsterfullerence, C60. Now, at this point I would like to say that I am as proud as anyone you know of being a Texan, but I am afraid having an official molecule and cooking implement could be pushing the limits of pride right into absurdity!
We also have a State Snack – Chips and Salsa, which is sounding pretty good right now, so we will close with the final words to our Official Texas State Song – Texas, Our Texas
“God bless you Texas! And keep you brave and strong. That you may grow in power and worth, throughout the ages long.”