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Petition from Bowdoinham, Maine, against the annexation of Texas, December 12, 1837

Residents of Maine petitioned Congress against the annexation of Texas, citing three reasons. First, Mexico did not recognize Texas’s independence, so annexation might provoke a war. Second, they opposed the expansion of slavery, which Texas allowed. Third, the vast area of Texas might be divided into smaller slaveholding states, upsetting congressional balance and thereby dissolving the Union.

It being the avowed intention to continue it a slave-holding country, its annexation to the Union will give predominant power, in our national councils, to the slave-holding interest, and will reduce to complete subjection, the interests of the free States

Records of the U.S. House of Representatives, National Archives and Records Administration

Petition from Bowdoinham, Maine, against the annexation of Texas, December 12, 1837 It being the avowed intention to continue it a slave-holding country, its annexation to the Union will give predominant power, in our national councils, to the slave-holding interest, and will reduce to complete subjection, the interests of the free States

The Annexation of Texas

For much of the first half of the 19th century, there was a balance in Congress between Northern free states and Southern slave states. In 1836 Texas, which permitted slaveholding, declared independence from Mexico and sought annexation to the United States. Mexico threatened war over U.S. annexation of Texas, and in Congress the issue of annexation inflamed debate regarding slavery’s expansion. After the Senate rejected an annexation treaty, Congress annexed Texas in 1845 by a joint resolution and declared war with Mexico the following year.