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Analysis: Texas wouldn’t be Texas without Tennesseans

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(The Center Square) – As the Tennessee legislature considers funding the deployment of up to 5,000 National Guard soldiers to Texas over the next year, the soldiers would follow in the footsteps of historic Tennesseans who helped shape Texas and American history.

Tennesseans arguably volunteered more than anyone else to help win Texas independence and shape Texas history, according to state records.

Texas’ most famous governor, Sam Houston, was the only American to be elected governor in two states in U.S. history. He first served in Congress with fellow Tennessean and friend General Andrew Jackson, and was later elected as Tennessee’s sixth governor.

Houston later moved to Texas, joining Stephen F. Austin to petition the Mexican government to grant Texas statehood, only to soon after vote for Texas independence on his birthday, March 2, 1836. Chosen as the commander in chief of the Texan army, he famously led troops to defeat the Mexican Army in the Texas Revolution. He later became the first and third president of the Republic of Texas, the seventh governor of Texas and the first of two senators to serve in the U.S. Senate from Texas.

David Crockett, a famous frontiersman, Tennessee legislator, congressman, folk hero and cultural icon, was influential in promoting “the gradual westward expansion of the frontier through Tennessee toward Texas” and the “American dream,” the Tennessee Encyclopedia states.

After fighting in the Indian wars, Crockett served in the Tennessee legislature and in Congress. A dispute with Jackson led to his 1835 congressional reelection loss. Incredulous over losing to an attorney with a wooden leg, he famously told voters since they elected “a man with a timber toe to succeed me, you may all go to hell, and I will go to Texas.”

Crockett joined Col. William Travis in early February 1836 and perished at the Alamo on March 6, 1836. Slain with him were 31 Tennesseans, the greatest number of men known to have died at the Alamo from the same state. Tennesseans also lost the most family members of any state, according to the Alamo Trust.

The greatest number of men who fought at the Battle of San Jacinto to win Texas independence whose birthplace is known were born in Tennessee, according to the San Jacinto Museum and Battlefield Association.

After Tennesseans helped Texas win independence, they’d also help Texas finalize its border with Mexico by helping win the Mexican American War. In response to the federal government’s call for Tennessee to send roughly 3,000 troops to fight, 30,000 Tennesseans volunteered.

Leaders of Tennessee and Georgia were also the first to invoke the Compact Clause of the U.S. Constitution when they asked the federal government for aid during the War of 1812. They received it during the Creek War of 1813 and 1814. A severely injured soldier and survivor of the war, Sam Houston would nearly 50 years later call on the federal government for aid to “repel invasion.”

In February and March of 1860, Houston wrote to the U.S. Secretary of War saying he felt it was not only his “duty to repel invasion” but also “to adopt such measures as will prevent the recurrence of similar inroad upon our frontiers.”

“Texas is ready for an emergency and will act at a moment’s warning,” Houston wrote. “Texas needs to repel invasion both from the Indians and Mexico, an immediate supply of arms.”

Over 160 years later, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott called on President Joe Biden to enforce federal laws and secure Texas’ border with Mexico. After nearly three years of sending letters and filing lawsuits, and a record number of illegal border crossers, cartel crime and fentanyl pouring into the state, Abbott told Biden he’d abandoned the federal government’s constitutional duty required by the states when they ratified the constitution in 1788.

“The U.S. Constitution won ratification by promising the States, in Article IV, § 4, that the federal government ‘shall protect each of them against Invasion.’ By refusing to enforce the immigration laws enacted by Congress, including 8 U.S.C. § 1325(a)(1)’s criminal prohibition against aliens entering the United States between authorized ports of entry, your Administration has made clear that it will not honor that guarantee,” he said. He then cited the invasion clause of the U.S. Constitution, which 53 Texas counties cite in their invasion resolutions, affirming Texas’ constitutional right to self-defense.

The Biden administration denied that an invasion is occurring at the southern border.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee, who chairs the Republican Governor’s Association, has led a coalition of Republican governors to defend Texas. Over the weekend, he joined Tennessee National Guard soldiers to thank them for volunteering “to secure the Southern border as the federal government fails to act.”

They follow a long line of Tennesseans who fought for Texas’ independence, ultimately enabling the United States to gain nearly one million square miles of territory, or more than one-third of the land of contiguous U.S. states. Texas’ victory and annexation led to the United States eventually gaining nine territories that later became nine states.

The governors citing Mexican cartel threats posing imminent danger to Americans are similar to what Houston warned of in January 1860. “Mexico is in a continual state of anarchy,” Houston said. “Her population feel none of the influences of a stable government. Lawless chieftains plunder them with impunity, and light the torch of civil war at pleasure. Riot, murder and revolution reign above law and order. … Separated from Mexico, as we are, by a narrow river alone, it is but natural that the unhappy influences of her condition should extend to our border.”

Houston called up the Texas Rangers and state militia “to repel the invasion.” Today, Abbott, Lee and Republican governors, like Texas’ Tennessean governor before them, are sending troops to help secure Texas’ border, they say.