Sam Houston was a trusted friend of
President Jackson, who was known to favor the annexation to secure and
expand the western border of the United States. Business interests in
the United States favored annexation, as did powerful senators from
slave states, who saw the chance to extend the reach of slavery across a
vast new space.
Opposition to annexation was wide spread
as well. Mexico opposed annexation, still considering Texas as
part of Mexico. Some feared annexation would lead to a
War with Mexico. Anti-slavery
northern states opposed annexation as well. The opposition was
strong enough that annexation could not pass at this point.
In 1838, Sam Houston appointed Jones as
Texas minister to the United States, and authorized him to formally
withdraw the offer of annexation. Instead of pursuing annexation, Jones
would work to stimulate recognition and trade with Europe. Jones served
as minister until the following year, when
Mirabeau B. Lamar became president. Jones returned to Texas, was
elected to the Senate, and became a vocal critic of Lamar's foreign
won the presidency again in 1841. This time, he chose Anson Jones as his
secretary of state.
Jones and Houston vacillated between two
policies. Houston was genuinely torn between his desire for annexation
to the United States, and his dream of an independent Texas. Jones
believed that the prospects for annexation were dim, and that
independence as part a British-French alliance offered the best
prospects for peace with Mexico and prosperity for Texas.
Neither the annexation proposal in
Washington nor the peace negotiations in Mexico had been successful by
1844, a presidential election year in the United States. President
John Tyler was an unpopular figure searching for a popular platform on
which to run. The country was hungry for new territory, and Tyler
decided to tap into the sentiment by moving forward aggressively on the
annexation question. Tyler entered into secret negotiations with Houston
Tyler assured the Texans that he had the
necessary two-thirds vote in the Senate to approve a treaty of
annexation. Houston and Jones were dubious of Tyler's claim, and
concerned about the continuing border raids and threats of all-out war
from Mexico. Talk of Annexation would torpedo any hope of peace with
Tyler was willing to go for broke. He
sent the U.S. Navy to the Gulf of Mexico and the U.S. Army to the
Southwest to protect the Texas border. On April 12, 1844, the
negotiations were completed and Texas signed an annexation treaty with
the U.S. Ten days later, Tyler submitted the treaty to the Senate, along
with hundreds of pages of supporting documents explaining the commercial
and pro-slavery benefits of the move.
The proposal created a huge debate. Tyler
had overplayed his hand, and the treaty was rejected by a large
margin. Predictably, northern senators voted against it. Worse, fifteen
southern senators also voted the treaty down, calling the action an
election year stunt.
Jones and Houston returned to their
efforts to secure European protection. If all went well, Texas could end
up as an independent nation, at peace with Mexico and poised to build a
prosperous economy based on trade with Britain, France, and the United
Despite Tyler's inept handling of the
issue, the appetite for annexation in the United States was far from
James Polk ran on a pro-Texas-annexation platform, and was elected
President of the United States.
After the election, congress again took
up the matter of annexing Texas. This time, advocates introduced not a
treaty, which required a two-thirds vote in the Senate, but a joint
resolution, which required a simple majority in both houses of Congress.
The resolution passed the Senate by a narrow margin on February 27,
1845. The next day, it passed the House of Representatives by an
For years, Jones had promised to lay
before Texans a stark choice: annexation or independence, and could not
turn away from the possibility. But his years in the diplomatic world
had left him grossly out of touch with public sentiment among ordinary
Texans. As President Polk's envoy Charles Wickliffe observed, news of
Jones's negotiations with Mexico came upon Texas "like a peal of thunder
in a clear sky."
Texans recognized that Jones's actions
could derail the annexation, and few Texans had any faith in the
goodwill of the European powers or the Mexican government. Jones became
wildly unpopular, to the point of being burned in effigy and threatened
with lynching. Jones's attempts to backpedaling only added to the scorn
and contempt heaped upon him by the newspapers and ordinary Texans.
The last official act of Anson Jones as
president was to attend the ceremony on February 19, 1846, in which the
American flag was raised over the Texas Capitol. In Jones's words, "The
Republic of Texas is no more."
As expected, Mexico considered the
annexation as an act of war, and began preparations to invade Texas. The
Mexican American War soon ensued.
He nursed an obsessive grudge against
Sam Houston and a misguided belief that he
would someday return to public office and be recognized for his
contributions to Texas annexation.
Anson Jones committed suicide in 1858.