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President Tyler Signs Texas Annexation Bill–March 1, 1845

On March 1, 1845, President John Tyler signed the Texas annexation bill. The bill called for Texas to enter the United States directly as a state, with its boundaries to be determined after annexation. Under the new bill, the United States would not assume the Republic of Texas's sizable debt, but the new state would be allowed to keep its vast public lands (which could be used presumably to alleviate the debt). Texas could also consent to creating up to four more states out of the original area, with those above 30 degrees and 30 minutes created as free states, and those below the line formed as slave states.

President Tyler had long championed bringing Texas into the Union, and he interpreted Democrat James K. Polk's 1844 election victory as a popular mandate for territorial expansion and the annexation of Texas. After the Senate had rejected a treaty with Texas in June 1844, President Tyler decided to pursue annexation through a different means. Instead of ratifying a treaty, which required approval from two-thirds of the Senate, Tyler decided to use a joint resolution to annex Texas; a resolution only required a simple majority in the House and Senate for approval.

President Tyler concentrated his annual message in December almost entirely on the issue of Texas, and he quickly submitted to Congress a joint resolution to admit Texas into the Union. The House passed a compromise resolution in January 1845 but efforts in the Senate moved slowly until Polk arrived in Washington, D.C., in mid-February. The President-elect immediately began to exert pressure on the Senate, hinting that patronage appointments might hinge on the bill's passage, and the Senate finally passed an amended version of the bill. The revised bill approved the terms of the House version with the added stipulation that the President was to decide whether to annex Texas immediately or settle another annexation treaty with the Republic. The measure passed the Senate 27 to 25.

Although Tyler signed the bill on March 1, 1845, the presidential choice between immediate annexation and a new treaty was intended for Polk. Secretary of State John C. Calhoun, however, pushed Tyler to offer Texas annexation immediately, arguing that there was no reason for delay. Tyler, already eager for some credit in the annexation of Texas and wanting it as the crowning achievement of his administration, took little convincing. President Tyler officially dispatched word to Texas, offering immediate annexation if Texas approved, on his last full day in office, March 3, 1845. Texas joined the United States as the twenty-eighth state on December 29, 1845.

For more information, please visit the John Tyler home page or go to more Events in Presidential History.