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Capital Austin
Nickname The Lone Star State
Official Language English
Governor Rick Perry, R
Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, R
(202) 224-5922
Senator John Cornyn, R
(202) 224-2934
Ratification of Constitution/or statehood December 29, 1845 (28th)
Flag of Texas Motto: "Friendship"

Texas was the twenty-eighth state to enter into the union and was admitted on December 29, 1845. Texas is the second largest in population after California and has the second largest land-area after Alaska. It has the largest land-area in the continental US. Before its admission, it was its own country, having gained independence from Mexico.

The capital of Texas is Austin, and the largest city is Houston. It was solidly Democratic from about 1900 to the 1970s, then Republicans gradually took control and now dominate the political atmosphere of Texas.

Up until the 1980's Texas had a booming oil industry, starting with the Spindletop oil gusher. For many years Texas was one of the largest oil producers in the world, with the West of Texas oilfields famous around the globe.

Currently, Texas is shifting from the oil industry to the service sector. It has a growing tech industry and is home to many well-known corporations such as Dell, Texas Instruments and Hewlett Packard.

The current governor of Texas is conservative Republican Rick Perry.


For a more detailed treatment, see History of Texas.

Six national flags have flown over Texas. Spain, France (which had a small brief settlement), Mexico, the Republic of Texas, the Confederate States of America, and the United States of America have ruled Texas. [1]

Spain: 1519-1821

Spain sent in several exploration teams, but they found no gold and gave negative reports that warned about the arid land and the hostile Indian tribes. Spanish settlers moved to New Mexico instead.

Spain opened a mission at San Antonio in 1718 along with several small missions and military outposts, primarily to keep France from expansing from its base in Louisiana. Spain began issuing permission for American settlement, but was replaced by Mexico in 1821.

France: 1685-1690

France was looking to expand its new colony in the Louisiana area, and French nobleman Robert de La Salle led an expedition looking for the mouth of the Mississippi river. However, he got lost and shipwrecked on the coast of Texas, and founded the colony Fort St. Louis in 1695. However, the colony was beset with many problems, including famine, disease, and attack from Native Americans. After five years, many of the inhabitants were dead, La Salle was murdered by his own crew, and the survivors had abandoned the colony.


In January 1821, the Spanish authorities in Mexico City granted American Moses Austin permission to settle 300 families in Texas. After the death of Austin and after Mexico's successful revolt against Spain, the Mexican provisional government confirmed this concession to Stephen F. Austin, the "Father of Texas." The younger Austin obtained contracts to settle 900 additional families, most of whom arrived by 1833. Austin's colonies formed the nucleus of the American settlements in Texas.

Republic of Texas

March 2, 1836 - December 29, 1845

Texas in 1835

Texas leaders gathered at Washington-on-the-Brazos to sign the Texas Declaration of Independence on March 2, 1836. Four days later the Alamo fell after a 13 day siege by Mexican troops led by Gen. Antonio López de Santa Anna. The massacre of all the defenders gave rise to the rallying call "Remember the Alamo". Santa Anna's Mexican troops were defeated on April 21 at the Battle of San Jacinto near present-day Houston. Mexico, however, refused to recognize the independence and when Texas joined the U.S. in 1845, the Mexican American War became inevitable.

Texas was a favorite destination of German immigrants in the 140s and 1850s. The state grew rapdily because of cattle herds and cotton farming; there were few cities.

Confederate States of America

Texas joined the Confederacy March 2, 1861-March 15, 1865. The coast was blockaded, and after the fall of Vicksburg in 1863 it became almost impossible to send men, horses or cattle to the east. Texas became a backwater with little military action.

United States of America

December 29, 1845-March 2, 1861 and March 15, 1865-present.

Texas' Reconstruction experience was similar to other rebel states. Texas was hardly damaged by the war, and attracted a large number of immigrants from the deep South after 1865, while few Europeans arrived. Cotton and cattle continued as the dominant economic base, with Cattle Drives used to move the cattle to railheads in Kansas and Missouri before the railroads reached Texas.


Texas is a mostly conservative state. It has consistently voted Republican in presidential elections since 1980, last favoring the Democrats in 1976 when Jimmy Carter won the state. Currently, the Texas Senate has 19 Republicans and twelve Democrats, and the State House consists of 101 Republicans and 49 Democrats. Republicans also have a 23-9 edge in the federal House delegation.

Elected Officials





Texas leads the Nation in fossil fuel reserves and in non-hydropower renewable energy potential. Texas crude oil reserves represent almost one-fourth of total U.S. oil reserves, and Texas natural gas reserves account for almost three-tenths of total U.S. natural gas reserves. Although Texas’s oil reserves are found throughout the State in several geologic basins, the largest remaining reserves are concentrated in the Permian Basin of West Texas, which contains more than 20 of the Nation’s top 100 oil fields. Similarly, deposits of natural gas are found in abundance in several Texas production basins, with the largest fields heavily concentrated in the East Texas Basin in the northeastern part of the State. Texas’s fossil fuel reserves also include substantial deposits of lignite coal, found in narrow bands in the Gulf Coast region, and bituminous coal, found in north central and southwestern Texas.[2]

Texas is also rich in renewable energy potential, including wind, solar, and biomass resources. Wind resource areas in the Texas Panhandle, along the Gulf Coast south of Galveston, and in the mountain passes and ridgetops of the Trans-Pecos offer Texas some of the greatest wind power potential in the United States. Solar power potential is also among the highest in the country, with high levels of direct solar radiation (suitable to support large-scale solar power plants) concentrated in West Texas. Due to its large agricultural and forestry sectors, Texas has an abundance of biomass energy resources. Although Texas is not known as a major hydropower State, substantial untapped potential exists in several river basins, including the Colorado River of Texas and the Lower Red.

Due to its large population and an energy-intensive economy, Texas leads the Nation in energy consumption, accounting for more than one-tenth of total U.S. energy use. Energy-intensive industries in Texas include aluminum, chemicals, forest products, glass, and petroleum refining.


The State’s signature crude oil type, known as West Texas Intermediate (WTI), remains the major benchmark of crude oil in the Americas.

Texas leads the United States in both crude oil production and refining capacity. Texas’s first major oil boom began in 1901 with the discovery of the Spindle Top oil field in the upper Gulf Coast basin. Since then, major discoveries have been made in East Texas, West Texas, and offshore in the Gulf of Mexico. Texas oil production increased until 1972, when it peaked at more than 3.4 million barrels per day. Afterward, production declined rapidly, and in recent years Texas crude oil output has fallen to less than one-third of its 1972 peak.

Although Texas oil production is in decline, the State’s signature crude oil type, known as West Texas Intermediate (WTI), remains the major benchmark of crude oil in the Americas. Because of its light consistency and low-sulfur content, the quality of WTI is considered to be high, and it yields a large fraction of gasoline when refined. Most WTI crude oil is sent via pipeline to Midwest refining centers, although much of this crude oil is also refined in the Gulf Coast region.

Texas’s 26 petroleum refineries can process nearly 4.8 million barrels of crude oil per day, and they account for more than one-fourth of total U.S. refining capacity. Most of the State’s refineries are clustered near major ports along the Gulf Coast, including Houston, Port Arthur, and Corpus Christi. These coastal refineries have access to local Texas production, foreign imports, and oil produced offshore in the Gulf of Mexico, as well as the U.S. government’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve, which operates two large storage facilities in Bryan Mound and Big Hill, Texas. Many of Texas’s refineries are sophisticated facilities that use additional refining processes beyond simple distillation to yield a larger quantity of lighter, higher value products, such as gasoline. Because of this downstream capability, Texas refineries often process a wide variety of crude oil types from around the world, including heavier, lower value varieties.

Refineries in the Houston area, including the Baytown refinery, the Nation’s largest refinery, make up the largest refining center in the United States. From Houston, refined product pipelines spread across the country, allowing Texas petroleum products to reach virtually every major consumption market east of the Rocky Mountains. This network includes the Colonial Pipeline system (Koch), which is the largest petroleum product pipeline system in the United States and is vital for supplying markets throughout the South and East Coast.

Texas’s total petroleum consumption is the highest in the Nation, and the State leads the country in consumption of asphalt and road oil, distillate fuel oil, jet fuel, liquefied petroleum gases (LPG), and lubricants. Texas LPG use is greater than the LPG consumption of all other States combined, due primarily to the State’s active petrochemical industry, which is the largest in the United States. Four separate motor gasoline blends are required in Texas to meet the diverse air quality needs of different parts the State, including reformulated motor gasoline blended with ethanol required in the metropolitan areas of Houston and Dallas-Forth Worth. The agriculture-rich Texas Panhandle has several corn- and milo-based ethanol plants that are operational or under construction.

Natural Gas

Texas is the Nation’s leading natural gas producer, accounting for more than one-fourth of total U.S. natural gas production. In the early days of Texas oil production, natural gas found with oil was largely considered a nuisance and was often flared (burned off) at the wellhead. Although some Texas cities and towns located near oil fields began using natural gas for energy, it was not until the State banned flaring after World War II that oil producers began to find new markets for natural gas. Two pipelines that once carried crude oil to the East Coast were converted to carry natural gas and a new natural gas pipeline to California was built, setting the stage for strong natural gas production growth in the 1950s and 60s. Texas natural gas production reached its peak in 1972 at more than 9.6 billion cubic feet of annual production. Since then, output has declined steadily to less than three-fifths of that level.

Today, an expansive network of interstate natural gas pipelines extends from Texas, reaching consumption markets from coast to coast, including those in California, the Midwest, the East Coast, and New England. Texas has 10 natural gas market hubs located in both East and West Texas, more than any other State, and its natural gas storage capacity is among the highest in the Nation. Most of Texas’s 34 active storage facilities are depleted oil and gas fields converted for storage use, although many sites have also been developed in salt dome formations. These storage facilities allow Texas to store its natural gas production during the summer when national demand is typically lower and to ramp up delivery quickly during the winter months when markets across the country require greater volumes of natural gas to meet their home heating needs. However, due to the growing use of natural gas for electricity generation in the United States, Texas has occasionally withdrawn natural gas from storage during the summer months to help meet peak electricity demand for air-conditioning use.

Texas consumes more natural gas than any other State and accounts for about one-fifth of total U.S. natural gas consumption. Texas natural gas demand is dominated by the industrial and electric power sectors, which together account for more than four-fifths of State use. Because Texas demand is high, and because the State’s natural gas infrastructure is well connected to consumption markets throughout the country, several companies have proposed building liquefied natural gas (LNG) import terminals along the Gulf Coast in Texas.

Coal, Electricity, and Renewables

Natural gas-fired power plants typically account for about one-half of the electricity produced in Texas and coal-fired plants account for much of the remaining generation. Although Texas produces a substantial amount of coal from 13 surface mines, including five of the 50 largest in the United States, the State relies on rail deliveries of subbituminous coal from Wyoming for the majority of its supply. Nearly all of the coal mined in Texas is lignite coal, the lowest grade of coal, and all of it is consumed in the State, mostly in arrangements where a single utility operates both the mine and an adjacent coal-fired power plant. Although lower in energy content than other varieties of coal, lignite coal is also low in sulfur, an important consideration in the State’s efforts to lower emissions. Texas consumes more coal than any other State and its emissions of carbon dioxide and sulfur dioxide are among the highest in the Nation.

Texas is a major nuclear power generating State. Two nuclear plants, Comanche Peak and South Texas Project, typically account for about one-tenth of the State’s electric power production. Until the recent uprating (capacity improvement) of the Number 2 reactor at Palo Verde in Arizona, the two South Texas Project nuclear reactors were the largest in the Nation.

Although renewable energy sources contribute minimally to the Texas power grid, Texas leads the Nation in wind-powered generation capacity, and substantial new wind generation capacity is under construction in Texas. Texas surpassed California as the country’s largest wind energy producer in 2006. Currently, there are over 2,000 wind turbines in West Texas alone, and the numbers continue to increase as development costs continue to drop and wind turbine technology improves. At 736 MW, the Horse Hollow Wind Energy Center in central Texas is the largest wind power facility in the world.

Texas produces and consumes more electricity than any other State. Despite large net interstate electricity imports in some areas, the Texas Interconnect power grid is largely isolated from the integrated power systems serving the eastern and western United States, and most areas of Texas have little ability to export or import electricity to and from other States. Texas per capita residential use of electricity is significantly higher than the national average, due to high demand for electric air-conditioning during hot summer months and the widespread use of electricity as the primary energy source for home heating during typically mild winter months.


The weakness of education in Texas has always (and still is) an important priority. The Texas Declaration of Independence from Mexico included the following grievance against the government of Mexico pertaining to education:

It has failed to establish any public system of education, although possessed of almost boundless resources, (the public domain,) and although it is an axiom in political science, that unless a people are educated and enlightened, it is idle to expect the continuance of civil liberty, or the capacity for self government.

Even today Texas is in the forefront of education in the country as the No Child Left Behind( NCLB) Act is being implemented. The administration of George W. Bush used Texas as a model for many of the reforms in the NCLB Act because of his previous experiences as governor of Texas.

In 2006 Texas ranked #25 out of 50 states on a composite index of public education.[3] Texas ranks:[4]

  • #49 in verbal SAT scores in the nation (493) and #46 in average math SAT scores (502).
  • #36 in the nation in high school graduation rates (68%).
  • #33 in the nation in teacher salaries. Teacher salaries in Texas are not keeping pace with the national average. The gains realized from the last state-funded across-the-board pay raise authorized in 1999, which moved the ranking from 33 to as high as 26th in the nation, have disappeared over the last five years.
  • Texas was the only state in the nation to cut average per pupil expenditures in fiscal year 2005, resulting in a ranking of #40 nationally; down from #25 in fiscal year 1999.
  • #6 in the nation in student growth. The general student population in Texas public schools grew by 11.1% between school years 1999 and 2005, with the largest percent of growth seen among low income and minority children.

Public Education

The Texas public education system consists of 1,033 independent and common school districts. There are an additional 190 charter school districts. Public school enrollment has continued to increase at a rapid pace. In the 2000-2001 school year, public school enrollment was at 4,059,619 students. By the 2006-2007 school year, the public school enrollment had increased by over 500,000 students to a mark of 4,594,942 students.

Higher Education

The University of Texas System and the Texas A&M System are two of the largest higher education systems in the nation, with numerous branch campuses. The University of Texas at Austin is the largest institution in the UT System, while Texas A&M is the flagship of the rival system. Thanks to ownership of oil fields, their endowments in 2006 reached $13.2 billion and $5.6 billion. The best endowed private schools were Rice University in Houston with $4.0 billion, Southern Methodist University in Dallas ($1.1 billion); Baylor College of Medicine ($1.0 billion), and Texas Christian University in Ft. Worth ($1.0 billion).

The state of Texas is home of many notable institutions of higher learning.

Notable Texans

The Texas capitol building in Austin
  • Lance Armstrong, who holds the record for most consecutive Tour de France victories, was born in Plano.
  • George W. Bush, 43rd President of the United States, former Governor of Texas.
  • Pat Garrett, the policeman who shot Billy the Kid, lived in multiple locations in Texas.
  • Sam Houston was the president of Texas when it was an independent nation, and lent his name to Texas's largest city.
  • Howard Hughes, the reclusive billionaire who was the subject of the movie The Aviator, was born in Humble.
  • Lyndon B. Johnson, former president, lived and died in Stonewall.
  • Ted Nugent, controversial conservative musician, lives near Crawford.
  • Ross Perot, former presidential candidate, lives in Dallas
  • Stevie Ray Vaughn, musician.
  • Claudia Johnson "Lady Bird Johnson", Born December 22, 1912. Lady Bird Johnson was the wife of President Lyndon B. Johnson. She is also known for her involvement in improving the physical conditions along the nations highways.

See also

Basic further reading


  1. http://www.tsha.utexas.edu/handbook/online
  2. See Energy Information Administration, State Report 2009
  3. See "Which State Is Smartest?" (2007) at [1]
  4. see Carol Keeton Strayhorn, Texas State Comproller, "Major Challenges Facing Texas Education Today" at [2]