AUSTIN, Texas (CN) — After winning its independence from Mexico in 1836, the Republic of Texas lasted for 10 years and had its own government, presidents, currency and even an embassy in London. Now 176 years after becoming the 28th state to join the union, and 151 years after being readmitted after the Civil War, a movement in the state argues it should leave the union once and for all to chart its own path.
Following years of political change in Mexico, Anglo immigrants from the United States went to war with the Mexican government to become an independent nation. These early Texans were fighting over the Mexican government’s decision to outlaw slavery and restrict immigration from the United States. After months of bloody confrontations, the Texan forces won independence from Mexico in 1836. From the beginning, the independent Texans sought to be annexed by the United States.
Professor of history at the University of Texas and chief historian at the Texas State Historical Association, Walter L. Buenger said that what prevented Texas from becoming a U.S. state after the war was slavery.
“In the summer of 1836, Texas political leaders made overtures to join the United States. Those were turned down by the United States because it was in the middle of a presidential election year and both leading political candidates did not want to get embroiled in a controversy over admitting another slave state. It was slavery that kept Texas out of the United States,” said Buenger in an interview.
Born out of necessity, the new Republic of Texas worked to survive as a nation but by all accounts failed due to its inability to protect its people, pay its debts and promote its economy.
Reflecting on the history of Texas, many who call the state home see a colorful story and rich history, whereas others see a familiar image of a tyrannical government that is no longer worth being part of.
Founded in 2005, the Texas Nationalist Movement (TNM) has been at the forefront of working toward Texas independence. The TNM advocates and mobilizes the effort to leave the union, to bring a "Texit" vote before the people.
Reminiscent of Brexit, the movement that led the United Kingdom to leave the European Union, "Texit" is birthed out of the ardent, religious-like, affinity some Texans have for their state, their disdain towards the federal government and a historical framework of Texas history and global independence movements.
The TNM’s website describes “TEXIT [as the] means that Texans determine our own laws and not 2.5 million unelected bureaucrats in Washington. It means that we get a government that begins and ends at the borders of Texas.”
President of the TNM, Daniel Miller, is one of the founders of the group and has been working for Texas independence for over 20 years. He said that the current success of the movement has been in recent years linked to Texans ire for Washington D.C.
“When we started the TNM, support for independence was polling in single digits, but we have always polled higher than the approval rating of the U.S. Congress,” said Miller.
Critics of the Texas independence movement have long noted that seceding from the United States is illegal and would fail as it did before in the 1800s. Miller’s response is that independence is more so a state of mind than a state of being and Texas’ success as a country is unknown until it has the chance to truly become a self-governing nation.
Going back to previous independent movements, the inclination to separate from the union has been one shared by conservative idealogues in the state. Miller said that the movement itself is non-partisan, but acknowledges that the movement appeals to Republicans more than Democrats or independents. “People will argue that more people in the Republican Party gravitate to this issue and you cannot deny that, that’s just the way that it breaks here, but let’s also understand here that the Republican Party controls every statewide office,” said Miller.