Texas in the Confederacy: An Experiment in Nation Building

By Clayton E. Jewett | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 2
In Defense of Liberty and Property The Secession Movement

On February 1, 1861, the Texas secession convention voted to secede from the Union. Immediately after the Ordinance on Secession passed, Gen. George M. Flournoy escorted a group of Travis County ladies into the convention chamber. Amid cheers of jubilation, the ladies placed the Lone Star flag in the center of the room, turned, and departed. The act was simple, yet profound. Most Texans identified with the Lone Star flag, and the act of placing it in the center of the room symbolized the unifying force that guided Texas politicians to consider secession from the Union: loyalty to the state and a deep concern for the welfare of the citizenry. 1.

As shown, political rhetoric reveals that politicians supporting secession and antisecession shared the concern of protecting Texas's material well- being. Texas had a diverse commercial economy that politicians sought to safeguard at all cost. The citizens of Texas, through their words and actions, expressed this same desire in the move toward secession. However, behind this seeming act of unity lurked deep division over what Texans hoped to achieve by their actions, and the road to secession was laden with difficulty as citizens throughout Texas held pro- and antisecession meetings. At the end of this road, however, Texans overwhelmingly voted to support secession from the Union. Their defense of secession at the ballot box not only reflected their political and economic interests, but also provided another step in defining Texas's political and economic identity in this crisis.

Texas was a geographically and economically diverse state. Map 2.1 shows a division of four geographical regions: the Gulf Coast, east Texas, central Texas, and the frontier. Geographical location in the state of Texas determines these regions. They are not the outgrowth of some relative or

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1.
Journal of the Secession Convention of Texas, 1861, 65; Ralph Wooster, The Secession Conventions of the South, 125, 129—30; Francis White Johnson, A History of Texas and Texans, 536.

-43-

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