Dividing Texas

From InstaPundit, we find this article in OpinionJournal (an online publication from the Wall Street Journal) by two law students. In it, they propose increasing Republican dominance in the Senate by splitting Texas into four states:

Article IV, Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution says that new states may be created out of existing ones, but only with the consent of “the States concerned as well as of the Congress.”

These days, a partisan Congress would never agree to a Texas carve-up, since any resulting new states would surely be politically conservative. But Congress need not take any action at all today: It granted its consent to Texas’s potential subdivision 159 years ago.

It’s as well that their proposal is a bit tongue-in-cheek, because the good law students have their history wrong. The authorization Congress granted was acted on at the time.

The borders of the Republic of Texas, as annexed by the United States and as fought over in the Mexican War, were greater than the current border of the current state of Texas. This map shows how the territory claimed by the Republic was eventually divided: one full state of Texas, plus portions of Wyoming, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, and New Mexico.

Astute readers will note that this makes for a total of six states, not four, and that the territory of Texas ended up yielding only one full state. Does this mean that the old Congressional authorization is still valid? I doubt it; the explicit reference to “territory” is good evidence that the authorization only extended to the creation of new states, not the subdivision of existing ones. Plus, while “portion” is still accurate when talking about New Mexico, it’s clear that we’re talking a Texas-sized portion when compared to the state in its final form.

Of course, all of this is in fun; I don’t expect even Texas Republicans will take this seriously. But even in fun, historical accuracy is important, especially when writing for such a high-profile publication as the Wall Street Journal.

3 thoughts on “Dividing Texas

  1. Thewre was a book of fiction based on this concept published in the ’70’s. Does anyone remember it’s name?

  2. Perhaps the book you’re referring to is ‘The Power Exchange’, by Alan R. Erwin, Texas Monthly Press,1979. ISBN 0-932012-08-6. Interesting book about a mythical court case involving secession and/or partition.

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