Why Did Texas Secede From the Union & Join the Confederate States of America?

The Alamo stands as a symbol of Texas' resolve to fight off coercion.

On February 1, 1861, delegates of the state of Texas resolved to secede from the federal Union of the United States of America. Although they did not initially join to a Confederate Union composed of other southern states which seceded, mutual protection demanded that a confederation be formed, and Texas became a part on March 22. Texans' resolution to break away from the Union and become a part of the Confederacy touches on some of the most delicate issues of that time.

1 Domestic Tranquility

Leading up to Texas' secession from the Union, Texans had been very upset with the inability of the federal government to protect them from vicious raids by both Indians and Mexican bandits. Their declaration of causes notes that it "almost entirely failed to protect the lives and property of the people of Texas against the Indian savages on our border, and more recently against the murderous forays of banditti from the neighboring territory of Mexico." Considering that protection from these sorts of threats fell under federal jurisdiction, the governmental failure to address the problem enraged Texans.

2 Protection of Property

Slavery became an omnipresent complaint among all of the ordinances of secession of the southern states. For years, the "free" states in the north had refused to return escaped slaved to their southern masters, technically a breach of the U.S. Constitution. Texans felt that political change in the government would soon weaken the institution of slavery even further. Rather than allow the rights of their state to be trampled under a government dominated by northern counterinterests, Texans elected to withdraw from the Union.

3 Mutual Defense

It quickly became clear that many people in the northern states viewed secession as not only unconstitutional but also rebellious. Given the northern antipathy towards the southern "rebels," Texas and other southern states which had seceded needed to form a military bond strong enough to repel any raids or military attempts at annexation. While each state alone may have been incapable of such a military force, Texas, once joined to the Confederacy, became a part of a much stronger military power.

4 Commerce and Economy

The northern states had long been far more industrially geared than were Texas and other southern states, and northern-minded tariffs had often threatened southern merchants and the economy as a whole. Texans realized that if they remained an independent state, their economy and commerce would be severely threatened if their relationship with neighboring nations ever deteriorated. Joining the Confederacy helped to ensure that interstate trade and commerce remained stable.

C. Paul Martin began writing in 2003 while studying at Christendom College, Va. He specializes in theological/ideological history and socio-historical topics such as the Reformation, the Crusades and the ideology of revolutions. Martin holds Bachelor of Arts degrees in history and theology, and is pursuing his Master of Arts in history at National University in California.