Texas is the second largest U.S. state in both area and population, with an area of 268,820 square miles (696,200 km2) and a growing population of 23.9 million.
Also means, extremely large; second only to Alaska. It was the largest U.S. state, until Alaska became a state in 1959. The physical size of the state and the bigger-than-life attitude of some of itsinhabitants has led to the saying that "Everything is bigger in Texas".
[pic] An 1873 illustration of Austin
When Europeans first arrived, the area was inhabited by the Tonkawa tribe, and the Comanches and Lipan Apaches were known to travel through the area as well.Spanish explorers, including the Espinosa-Olivares-Aguirre expedition, traveled through the area for centuries, though few permanentsettlements were created for some time. In the mid-18th century, the San Xavier missions were established along the San Gabriel River, in what is now western Milam County, to facilitate exploration.
In the early 19th century, Spanish forts were established in what are now Bastrop and San Marcos. Following the independence of Mexico, new settlements were established in Central Texas, but growth in theregion was stagnant because of conflicts with the regional Native Americans.
In 1835–1836, Texans fought for independence in the Texas Revolution and won. Texas thus became its own independent country with its own president, congress and monetary system. In 1839, the Texas Congress formed a commission to seek a site for a new capital to be named for Stephen F. Austin. Mirabeau B. Lamar, secondpresident of the newly formed Republic of Texas, advised the commissioners to investigate the area named Waterloo, noting the area's hills, waterways, and pleasant surroundings. Waterloo was selected and the name Austin was chosen as the town's new name. The location was seen as a convenient crossroads for trade routes between Santa Fe and Galveston Bay, as well as routes between northern Mexicoand the Red River. Austin is also the site where the southern leg of the Chisholm Trail leads to the Colorado River.
Edwin Waller was picked by Lamar to survey the village and draft a plan laying out the new capital. The original site was narrowed to 640 acres (259 ha) that fronted the Colorado River between two creeks, Shoal Creek and Waller Creek, which was later named in his honor. Thefourteen-block grid plan was bisected by a broad north-south thoroughfare, Congress Avenue, running up from the river to Capital Square, where the new Texas State Capitol was to be constructed. A temporary one-story capitol was erected on the corner of Colorado and 8th Streets. On August 1, 1839, the first auction of 217 out of 306 lots total was held. The grid plan that Waller designed and surveyed nowforms the basis of Downtown Austin.
In 1840, a series of conflicts between the Texas Rangers and the Comanches, known as the Council House Fight and the Battle of Plum Creek, finally pushed the Comanches westward, mostly ending conflicts in Central Texas. Settlement in the area began to expand quickly. Travis County was established in 1840 and the surrounding counties were mostly established withinthe next two decades.
Initially, the new capital thrived. But Lamar's political enemy Sam Houston used two Mexican army incursions to San Antonio as an excuse to move the government to Washington-on-the-Brazos. Remaining Austin residents responded to the threat by forcibly keeping the national archives in their city in defiance of President Houston's attempts to bring them to Washington (TexasArchive War). Once the annexation of the Republic of Texas by the United States became official in 1845, delegates wrote a new state constitution in which Austin was again named the seat of state.
In 1861, with the outbreak of the American Civil War, voters in Austin and other Central Texas communities voted against secession. However, as the war progressed and fears of attack by Union forces...