By a Joint Resolution of Congress dated March 1, 1845, it was voted that the Republic of Texas could be annexed into the United States. One of the provisions of that Joint Resolution was the following:
New states, of convenient size, not exceeding four in number, in addition to said state of Texas, and having sufficient population, may hereafter by consent of said state, be formed out of the territory thereof, which shall be entitled to admission under the provision of the federal constitution.
After all of the formalities had been completed, Texas formally joined the United States on Dec. 29, 1845.
For more than 175 years Texas has continued as one sovereign state, but let us consider whether it is time to rethink our relationship to our fellow states. In 1845, Texas had a population estimated to be about 125,000 compared to three million in the New England states. Texas’ border with Mexico wasn’t officially determined until the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo ended the Mexican-American War in 1848.
Thus, there were significant reasons at the time to delay the division of Texas into five states.
Today, with almost 30 million residents, Texas has a population roughly twice the number in New England, and we are nearly four times the size of those six states combined. If the District of Columbia should become a state equal in population to Vermont and a mere fraction of the size of Little Rhody, shouldn’t Texas now exercise its statutory right to become five states?
I can begin to hear the challenges to Texas’ division into five states. How would we decide the boundaries? Where would each state’s capital be located?
Who would claim our flagship universities?
To these and other quibbles, I say “piffle.” The boundaries already have been laid out, the five area codes that existed in 1960. If you don’t remember where they are, find an old men’s tie that was popular at the time. It displayed Texas with its five area code divisions, allegedly because the state map in his telephone directory was all the designer could locate.
First, San Antonio, Austin and the Rio Grande Valley (area code 512) would make up the southern-most state. Second and third, West Texas and the Panhandle (area code 915) would share a community of interest, and North-Central Texas (area code 817) would bring its rich ranching heritage. Next, area code 214 would encompass northeast Texas, and finally, area code 713 would be Texas’ southeastern state. Since the Shrine of Texas Liberty and our current state capital are now in the SA, Austin, RGV region, it would retain the name “Texas,” while the other four states could adopt geographic regions similar to West Virginia.
Unlike New England’s heavily left-wing views, Texas would offer a broader range to political thought. San Antonio, Austin and the Rio Grande Valley would most likely send two Democrats to the U.S. Senate. The westernmost state and north-central Texas probably each would send two Republicans.
At this point, there would be no political shift in the Senate’s partisan makeup. Two new Republican senators would replace our current two, and the other new red state would be offset by the new blue South Texas state. That would leave Northeast Texas and Southeast Texas, each of which would be a political toss-up. Both are anchored by a large metropolitan counties (Dallas and Harris) that are heavily Democratic balanced by more rural Republican provinces elsewhere in the newly designated states. The urban/rural tensions in these easternmost states would assure a political free-for-all come election time.
There are other beneficial effects to the division into five states. Fort Worth and Dallas would be in different states, thus allowing each to blossom into its rightful distinction rather than being lumped together into the amorphous Metroplex. Texas Tech could emerge from the shadows of The University of Texas and Texas A&M.
Beto O’Rourke might imagine a political future.
Our two senators would be faced with a dilemma: Sen. John Cornyn might have trouble being elected in the southernmost state from which he hails, and Sen. Ted Cruz would be in a competitive race in Southeast Texas.
There is an easy solution: Sen. Cornyn could relocate to Chillicothe in north-central Texas, and Sen. Cruz could move to Lazbuddie in the Panhandle.
That leaves only the issue of California, the only state with a population larger than Texas. The first response to its probable objection is obvious. Texas cut a better deal when it joined the Union. The second is that California owes its very statehood existence to Texas’ annexation. California was part of the spoils that came to the U.S. from the victory in the Mexican-American War which, as I pointed out earlier, was fought over the southern boundary of the new state of Texas.
Five for one! Sounds like good odds to me.
Cullen M. “Mike” Godfrey, an attorney and essayist, lives in College Station, Texas. Email him at email@example.com.