Attempts at annexation were made immediately following Texas gaining independence from Mexico; however, the annexation of Texas was extremely controversial. In fact, it was one of the major issues at play in the 1844 election. Prior to the 1844 election, President Tyler proposed the Tyler-Texas Treaty, which would annex Texas; ultimately, this treaty was defeated in the Senate (treaties require a 2/3 vote of approval in the Senate for ratification, which is a difficult threshold to meet). During the 1844 presidential election, one of the candidates, James K. Polk, framed Texas annexation through the lens of Manifest Destiny, or the belief that U.S. expansion throughout the American continents was justified and inevitable. When Polk won the election, Tyler declared his victor a mandate for Texas annexation and called for the adoption of a joint resolution approved by a majority vote in House of Representatives and Senate (which is an easier threshold to meet than that required of treaties) to officially annex Texas. The Tyler-Texas proposal passed, and the Texas annexation convention passed the Tyler-Polk annexation offer on July 7, 1845.
Constitution of 1845: Texas’s First State Constitution
The Texas Constitution of 1845 drew heavily on the Constitution of Louisiana and an 1833 draft constitution written for Texas as a state in the Mexican federation that had been rejected by the Mexican government. This constitution:
- offered a general plan for government
- established a separation of powers by dividing government authority between legislative, executive, and judicial branches
- created a bicameral state legislature with biennial regular sessions (i.e., meets every other year)
- prohibited all members of the clergy from serving in public office
- expanded the governor’s appointment powers to include various executive and judicial positions
- included a Bill of Rights
- contained strong property rights protections
The amendment process outlined in the Texas Constitution of 1846 is very similar to our state’s current amendment process, but with one additional step: under the Constitution of 1845, an amendment has to be approved by 1) two-thirds vote in both the Texas House of Representatives and the Texas Senate to propose an amendment, 2) majority popular vote, and 3) another 2/3 vote in the Texas House of Representatives and Texas Senate.