Texas State Study

TexasJoin us for a Texas State Study . . .

They say everything’s bigger in Texas, but it’s actually only the SECOND largest state (trailing Alaska of course).  Although, the capitol dome in Austin IS bigger than the U.S. Capitol building’s dome by 7 feet!  The name “Texas” means friends, but its nickname, “The Lone Star State” might suggest otherwise. . . it set Texas apart as an independent republic.

History

The territory had quite a rough beginning, being ruled over by a number of other countries (hence the phrase, “Six flags over Texas”), Spain, France, and Mexico all controlled it. The most noteworthy bit of history from Texas is in gaining its independence from Mexico in 1836 (Remember the Alamo?).  Texans hoped that they could then become another state in the Union, but unfortunately, Congress wouldn’t approve it right away.  Their flag, the famous Lone Star Flag, is meant to resemble the United States flag, except with only one star–Texas, on its own.

Rather than becoming a state, they became their own sovereign nation.  In 1845 they finally gained statehood, but they still fly their Lone Star Flag as a reminder of that history.  Only 16 years later it had seceded from the Union again, wishing to remain a slave state.  Of course, following the close of the Civil War, Texas became a state again, but not until 1870, 5 long years after the war had ended.  Even then, many Texans were not anxious to be a state in a country whom they did not agree with on political, economic, and social issues (especially on the issue of slavery).

Texas hill country. Photo by Zereshk, CC license, Wikimedia.

Geography

We often think of Texas as just one big dry scrubland, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. It includes a big variety of landscapes from deserts and prairies to forests and beautiful coasts. There are swamps, woods, mountains–just about every landscape you can imagine.  There are also many rivers and streams.  Because there aren’t large natural lakes, over 100 artificial reservoirs have been built.  The weather is also extremely varied; it even snows in parts of the state.

These are the Chisos Mountains in Big Bend National Park in West Texas. Photo by the National Park Service, public domain.

Economics

Economically, Texas does well.  Its state and local tax burden is one of the lowest in the nation.  It is home to 346,000 millionaires and the most Fortune 500 companies in the United States.  Its gross state product compares with the gross domestic products of India and Canada (which are 12th and 11th ranked in the entire world).  Oil plays a big role in this success.

This is downtown Austin. Austin is the capital of Texas. Photo by Argash, CC license, Wikimedia.

Map

Here’s a blank printable Texas Map to label  and color.  Use a student atlas and label the major cities and landmarks.

Texas web

Additional Layers

  • Learn more about the Alamo.  This battle was a devastating blow for Texans.  Led by the Mexican president, Santa Anna, the Texans were wiped out after a long, 13 day siege.  They somehow rallied from the loss, spurred on by shouts of “Remember the Alamo,” and captured Santa Anna at the Battle of San Jacinto.  This ended the war.

    This is the Alamo mission where David Bowie, Davy Crockett, and the rest of the little band of Texas fought against Santa Anna and his armies. Photo by Greverod, released to the public domain.

  • President John F. Kennedy was assassinated while driving through the streets of Dallas in 1963.  Immediately controversy ensued about who shot him and whether or not there was some sort of government cover up; the controversy still exists today.
  • You could fit 220 Rhode Islands in Texas.  It’s bigger than many, many countries too.  Try to list 20 countries you could fit inside of Texas.
  • The very first rodeo ever was held in Pecos, Texas.
  • Texas is allowed to fly its flag at the same level as the national flag.  This is because it is the only state to enter the U.S. by treaty rather than by annexation.  During my several visits to Texas I was astounded by how many people fly the state flag outside their homes.  Many of us scarcely know what our state flag looks like, but there is a notable level of pride and love of state among Texans.
  • The Heisman Trophy was named after the first full time coach for Houston’s Rice University, John William Heisman.
  • The halfway point from Houston to L.A. is El Paso–still in Texas!
  • Find out more about the armadillo, the state animal.  Go search and try to find out how many babies an armadillo has at one time.
  • Have fun discussing these TERRIFIC TEXAS PHRASES along with their translations:

Saying: The engine’s runnin’ but ain’t nobody driving. 
Translation: Not overly-intelligent. 

Saying: Tighter than bark on a tree.
Translation: Not very generous. 

Saying: Big hat, no cattle. 
Translation: All talk and no action.

Saying: We’ve howdied but we ain’t shook yet. 
Translation: We’ve made a brief acquaintance, but not been formally introduced. 

Saying: He thinks the sun come up just to hear him crow. 
Translation: He has a pretty high opinion of himself. 

Saying: As welcome as a skunk at a lawn party. 
Translation: Not welcome at all.

Saying: He’s got tongue enough for 10 rows of teeth.
Translation: Talks a lot. 

Saying: It’s so dry the trees are bribin’ the dogs.
Translation: We really could use a little rain around here 

Saying: Just because a chicken has wings don’t mean it can fly. 
Translation: Appearances can be deceptive. 

Saying: This ain’t my first rodeo.
Translation: I’ve been around awhile. 

Saying: He looks like the dog’s been keepin’ him under the porch. 
Translation: Not the most handsome of men. 

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One Response to Texas State Study

  1. Anonymous says:

    The Battle of the Alamo was begun, knowing that it could not be won. The Mexican Army outnumbered the Texans and the Americans who joined them there… 5000 to 187. Each man had the opportunity to leave before the battle began. These brave men stayed to fight and to hold back Santa Ana's army in order to give Sam Houston more time to prepare for an engagement with Santa Ana; to gather more men; and to Win.
    Texans do not consider the Battle of the Alamo a devastating loss. These brave men accomplished exactly what they meant to accomplish. They bough more time for Houston and he then Defeated Santa Ana at San Jacinto.
    Santa Ana played the Deguelo at the Alamo. I wonder if he heard it in his mind at San Jacinto?

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