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Single Star of the West: The Republic of Texas, 1836-1845, by Kenneth W. Howell & Charles Swanlan, editors

Denton: University of North Texas Press, 2017. Pp. x, 550. Illus., map, notes, biblio., index. $34.95. ISBN: 1574416715.


Essays on the History of the Republic of Texas

Noting that the history of the Republic of Texas has mostly been depicted in heroic, almost mythic fashion as a triumph of freedom-loving Anglo individualists, the editors, professors of history at Blinn College, working with nearly twenty colleagues, have put together 16 essays on various aspects of the Republic’s history that have largely been overlooked, often deliberately so.

The essays are grouped into four categories:

  • “The Birth of a Republic”: Setting the Texas revolution within the framework of Mexican politics, asking who the people of Texas were, and considering the emergence of a “Texas” identity.
  • “Defending the Republic”: Histories of the Texas Army, Navy, and Rangers.
  • “Politics and Economics”: Profiles of the three presidents of the Republic, its foreign policy and economy.
  • “Social and Cultural Vistas”: Accounts of women, Native Americans, African-Americans, Tejanos, and religion in the Republic.

There are a few flaws. The transition from Republic to state is not well treated, nor the reasons Texans desired statehood. In addition, the book offers little about the finances of the Republic, which were a mess, as Texas accumulated a debt nearly as great as that which the United States had amassed since 1776; in 1845 the U.S. debt per capita was about $0.81, that for Texas about $100.00.

This work will offend those raised on the oft retold myths of the Republic, but is an outstanding effort, laying the foundations for a better understanding of the history of Texas.


Note: Single Star of the West is also available as an e-book, ISBN 978-1-57441-684-8, and in several other e-editions.


Reviewer: A. A. Nofi   

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