The Problem of Slavery in Mexican Texas
By the late 1810s, a global revolution in cotton had remade the U.S.-Mexico border, bringing wealth and waves of Americans to the Gulf Coast while also devastating the lives and villages of Mexicans in Texas. In response, Mexico threw open its northern territories to American farmers in hopes that cotton could bring prosperity to the region. Following Stephen F. Austin, thousands of Anglo-Americans poured into Texas — but their efforts to bring slavery with them (as the engine that made 19th-century cotton so profitable) sparked pitched battles across Mexico. An alliance of Anglos and Mexicans in Texas came together to defend slavery against abolitionists in the Mexican government, beginning a series of fights that shaped Texas in powerful ways during the road to the Texas Revolution.
Andrew J. Torget is a historian of nineteenth-century North America at the University of North Texas, where he holds the University Distinguished Teaching Professorship. An award-winning speaker, he has been featured at Harvard, Stanford, Rice, Duke, Johns Hopkins, and the Library of Congress. The author or editor of five books, his most recent, Seeds of Empire, won twelve book prizes and awards and was hailed by Texas Monthly as “the most nuanced and authoritative rewriting of Texas’s origin myth to date.” In 2018, he set a Guinness World Record for the World’s Longest History Lesson, which was seen online by more than 30 million people. The Texas State Historical Association awarded him the Bryan Leadership in Education Award in 2020, and The Dallas Morning News named him a finalist for their “Texan of the Year” award in 2021 for the “uncommon, inspirational impact” of his work. One of his current projects is “Texas History for Teachers,” an online portal of free teaching resources for 4th and 7th grade social studies teachers, for which he received the Whiting Foundation’s Public Engagement Fellowship in 2022. In 2023, he will serve as a U.S. Fulbright Scholar to Germany at the University of Bremen.