The Idea Will Become Familiar:
DISUNION IN THE ERA OF MASS PARTY POLITICS
In 1837 a new litmus test for loyalty to slavery emerged as the issue of Texas annexation became a centerpiece of the antislavery petition campaign. The Republic of Texas had declared independence from Mexico in 1836; Texans overwhelmingly favored annexation to the United States. Abolitionists vehemently opposed the addition of Texas to the roster of states, and for good reason—the Lone Star Republic was a bastion of slavery. Texans had won their independence from Mexico with the help of militia companies raised in New Orleans, Mobile, Natchez, and other Southern locales. Newspapers such as the New Orleans Picayune had fostered sympathy for independence and spurred recruitment by casting Texans as “embattled, expatriated” Americans. Most important, Texans had earned the reputation as defenders of slavery—they had vehemently protested efforts by successive Mexican administrations to restrict and gradually dismantle the institution, winning concessions such as an 1828 decree that allowed Texans to register their slaves, in name only, as “indentured servants.” Independence brought with it a swift affirmation of slavery. Texas's constitution established the legality of hereditary slavery, and its law code featured such measures as a statute that subjected both slaves and free blacks to whipping “not exceeding one hundred” lashes nor “less than twenty-five” for using abusive language
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Publication information: Book title: Disunion! The Coming of the American Civil War, 1789-1859. Contributors: Elizabeth R. Varon - Author. Publisher: University of North Carolina Press. Place of publication: Chapel Hill, NC. Publication year: 2008. Page number: 127.