How Did Geography Influence the Settlement of Texas?


Early History

Once the U.S. borders included land in Texas, due to the Louisiana Purchase, Americans hoped for a chance to settle this undeveloped territory. The Brazos River, which flows southeast from northern Texas to the Gulf of Mexico, ran through fertile farming land. Early Texan settlers began to live near the Brazos while the territory was still under Mexico’s control. Cotton plantations became the major staple of this area, and Mexico started giving land grants to more Americans who wanted to develop sections of Texas.

Mexican War

When the American population outnumbered the Mexican population, Santa Anna’s military government got concerned and sent troops to squelch the Texans. Weeks after the resounding defeat at the Alamo, Sam Houston led his troops to victory over Mexican soldiers on the San Jacinto River, near the mouth of the Buffalo Bayou. Heavy rains and flooding bayous created a cul-de-sac in which the cornered Mexicans lost to the Texans.

Further Development

From there, Southern cotton farmers continued to move into Texas. Northeastern Texas became the mainstay of cotton production. After the Civil War reconstruction period, however, Western Texas began to grow as the place for livestock raising. For the next generations, Longhorn cattle ranches became the driving force of Texas’ progress.

As railroads were built further west, European immigrants became small farmers in the plains regions of central Texas and its agricultural community began to thrive again. There was tension between ranchers and farmers until after 1900, when the discovery of oil moved a new industry forward.

Industry began to press further as oil was discovered all over the state, but that left the small tenant farmers in turmoil. In 1930, the discovery of the East Texas Oil Field continued to move Texas forward in industry as well. Modern Texas maintains its diversity in geographic resources and development just as its geography played a part in the state’s early history.

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