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In 1781, Spanish government officials granted José Salvador de la Garza 59 leagues of land (408.243 sq mi). He used the land to construct a ranch several miles northwest of the area. During the early 1800s, Brownsville was known to residents as los tejidos (English: "pasturelands"). The area was inhabited by a few settlers around 1836 when Texas declared its independence from Mexico. On February 4, 1846, President James K. Polk instructed American General Zachary Taylor and his troops to begin moving south towards Brownsville. Once Taylor arrived, he built Fort Texas. It was later renamed Fort Brown in honor of Major Jacob Brown, one of two soldiers who died during the Siege of Fort Texas.
Charles Stillman arrived in Matamoros in 1828 from Connecticut to help his father in the mercantile business. Brownsville became part of Texas after the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848. During that year, Stillman formed a partnership with Samuel Belden and Simon Mussina to form the Brownsville Town Company. They reportedly sold lots valued at $1,500. The city of Brownsville was originally established in late 1848 by Stillman, and was made the county seat of Cameron County on January 13, 1849. The state originally incorporated the city on January 24, 1850. This was repealed on April 1, 1852, however, because of a land-ownership dispute between Stillman and its former owners (including Juan Cortina, a Mexican rancher). The state reincorporated the city on February 7, 1853; this remains in effect. The issue of ownership was not decided until 1879, when the United States Supreme Court ruled in favor of Stillman.
On April 25, 1846, Captain Seth B. Thornton received reports of Mexican troops crossing the Rio Grande. Thornton and 63 U.S. dragoons moved to Rancho de Carricitos and discovered several houses in the area. Mexican General Anastasio Torrejón crossed the Rio Grande the previous day. He commanded 1,600 cavalry and infantry troops to surround Thornton's troops in fractions. Due to heavy force from Torrejón's troops, Thornton's troops surrendered. Eleven American casualties were reported; 45 troops and Thornton were held as prisoners. Reports of the incident were sent to President James K. Polk, who announced, "American blood has been spilled upon the American territory". On May 13, the United States Congress declared war against Mexico.
American General Zachary Taylor retreated from Fort Texas on May 1, 1846; Mexican General Mariano Arista began preparing artillery and troops from across the Rio Grande. On May 3, Arista and the Mexican Army began the Siege of Fort Texas, during the first active campaign in the Mexican–American War. This was counteracted by the United States 7th Infantry Regiment. Despite heavy strikes, Mexican General Pedro de Ampudia outlined a traditional siege to move forward. General Zachary Taylor was notified of the incident and began moving towards Fort Texas. Mexican troops intercepted them near Palo Alto, about 5 mi (8.0 km) north of present-day Brownsville, however, resulting in the first battle of the war.
The following day, Mexican troops had retreated. Taylor's troops charged up to them, resulting in the Battle of Resaca de la Palma, which took place within the present city limits. When Taylor arrived at the besieged Fort Texas, he found that two soldiers, including the fort's commander, Major Jacob Brown, had died. Brown, who suffered an injury when a cannonball hit his leg, died three days after his injury on May 9. In his honor, General Taylor renamed the facility as Fort Brown. An old cannon at the University of Texas at Brownsville and Texas Southmost College marks the spot where Major Brown received his fatal wound.
On July 13, 1859, Juan Cortina saw Brownsville city Marshal Robert Sheers arrest and beat an elderly man who had been a ranch hand at his mother's ranch. Cortina approached the marshal, questioning his motives, before shooting him twice after he refused to release the man. The first shot reportedly missed Sheers, but the second struck his shoulder, causing him to fall to the ground. Cortina and the elderly man rode off on a horse. The following year, Cortina returned with troops, executing four Anglo men and simultaneously releasing several Mexican prisoners. He then issued a proclamation explaining his reasons for the attack.
During the American Civil War, Brownsville served as a smuggling point for Confederate goods into Mexico. Most significantly, cotton was smuggled to European ships through the Mexican port of Bagdad to avoid Union blockades. The city was located at the end of the "Cotton Road", southwest of the Cotton Belt. In November 1863, Union troops landed at Port Isabel and marched towards Brownsville to take control of Fort Brown. In the ensuing Battle of Brownsville, Confederate forces abandoned the fort, blowing it up with 8,000 lb (3,600 kg) of explosives. In 1864, Confederate forces commanded by Colonel John Salmon Ford reoccupied the town, and he became mayor of Brownsville.
Robert E. Lee and his Confederate army surrendered to Union commander Ulysses S. Grant on April 9, 1865, signing a hand-written document at the Appomattox Court House, officially ending the American Civil War. However, Theodore Barrett was ordered to move 500 62nd Regiment troops of colors towards Brazos Island. On May 11, Barrett's troops moved inland towards Brownsville and spotted Confederate soldiers. John Salmon Ford received news of this and prepared to attack. On May 15, 1865, 34 days after the signing of the surrender, the Battle of Palmito Ranch took place. Confederates killed or wounded around 30 opponents and captured more than 100 other troops. This is accepted by some historians as the last battle of the American Civil War. President Grant sent Union General Frederick Steele to Brownsville to patrol the United States–Mexico border after the Civil War to aid the Juaristas with military supplies.
Texas, like other Southern states, passed a new constitution and Jim Crow laws that established racial segregation and disenfranchised African Americans at the turn of the 20th century, generally by raising barriers to voter registration. While Hispanic residents were considered white under the terms of the United States annexation of Texas, legislatures found ways to suppress their participation in politics.
On August 13 and 14, 1906, Brownsville was the site of the Brownsville affair. Racial tensions were increasing between white townsfolk and black infantrymen who were stationed at Fort Brown. On the night of August 13, one white bartender was killed, and a white police officer was wounded by rifle shots in the street. Townsfolk, including the mayor, accused the infantrymen of the murders. Without affording them a chance to defend themselves in a hearing, President Theodore Roosevelt dishonorably discharged the entire 167-member regiment due to their alleged "conspiracy of silence". Investigations in the 1970s revealed that the soldiers were not responsible for the attacks, and the Nixon Administration reversed all dishonorable discharges. Fort Brown was decommissioned after the end of World War II in 1945. In 1948, the city and college acquired the land.
Brownsville has received significant media attention surrounding immigration policies and border-wall funding costs. In 2006, President George W. Bush signed into law the Secure Fence Act of 2006. The act administered the construction of a border fence extending from San Diego in California through the entry of the Port of Brownsville. In 2008, the United States Department of Homeland Security issued a proposal to add 70 mi (110 km) of border fence and reallocate portions of the University of Texas at Brownsville campus. The proposal would have transferred 180 acres (73 ha) of university land, including several historical monuments and the university's golf course, to Mexico. However, the proposal was altered after Andrew Hanen, a federal district judge, rejected the department's idea.
In 2016, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump proposed building a border wall along the United States-Mexico border. Trump's proposed wall, if passed, would consist of 2,000 mi (3,200 km) "of hardened concrete, and ... rebar, and steel" across the southern border, including Brownsville. On January 25, 2017, days after assuming office, Trump issued Executive Order 13767, directing construction for a border wall. Brownsville was also the center of controversy surrounding the Trump administration's policy of separating children and parents who entered the country unlawfully. The issue surrounded Casa Padre, the largest juvenile immigration detention center in America, which is located within Brownsville's city limits.
Downtown Brownsville has received several revitalization projects from the city government to increase tourism and safety. The Texas Historical Commission named Brownsville as part of its Main Street Program in 2016. Several historic buildings were restored, including the Stegman Building, a historic building named after Baldwin G. Stegman, one of the city's first streetcar line developers. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) selected Brownsville as one of six cities for their "Greening America's Communities" program. The agency worked on a revitalization project for Market Square, a building constructed in 1850. The city also received a $3.4 million grant from the Façade Improvement Program for this project.
Brownsville is the 18th-most populous city in Texas. It ranks as one of the top U.S. cities in terms of the percentage of Hispanic residents. According to the Pew Research Center, its metropolitan area holds the 26th-largest Hispanic population with roughly 373,000 (88.7%) sharing this distinction. Of that percentage, 96.7% are Mexican and 0.8% are Puerto Rican.
As of the census of 2010, 175,023 people, 49,871 households, and 41,047 families were residing in the city. The population density was 1,207.1 people/sq mi (466.0/km2). The 53,936 housing units averaged 372.0/sq mi (143.6/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 8.8% White, 0.4% African American, 0.4% Native American, 0.7% Asian, 9.1% from other races, and 1.5% from two or more races. Hispanics or Latinos of any race were 93.2% of the population.
Of the 38,174 households, 50.1% had children under 18 living with them, 59.3% were married couples living together, 20.9% had a female householder with no husband present, 5.3% had a male householder with no wife present, and 15.7% were not families. About 13.7% of all households were made up of individuals, and 6.7% had someone living alone who was 65 or older. The average household size was 3.62, and the average family size was 3.99.
In the city, the age distribution was 34.6% under 18, 11.2% from 18 to 24, 27.5% from 25 to 44, 17.2% from 45 to 64, and 9.5% who were 65 or older. The median age was 28 years. For every 100 females, there were 89.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 82.5 males.
Despite a fast-growing economy, Brownsville has one of the highest poverty rates in the nation. The median income for a household in the city was $24,468, and the median income for a family was $26,186. Males had a median income of $21,739 versus $17,116 for females. The per capita income for the city is $9,762. It is frequently cited as having the highest percentage of residents in the nation below the federal poverty level. About 31.6% of families and 35.7% of the population were below the federal poverty line, including 48.4% of those under 18 and 31.5% of those 65 or over.
Based on data collected from the United States Census Bureau's American Community Survey, the Brownsville metropolitan area ranked as the second-poorest urban area in the country, behind the McAllen metropolitan area. In 2017, the city's unemployment rate was 6.2% with 18.1% adults holding a bachelor's degree. It reported a 5.8% jobless rate the following year. Despite high unemployment rates, the urban area is also one of the fastest growing in the United States.
Texas is an extremely popular state in the South Central area of the United States. It is second largest U.S. State by both population and area. Millions of people commute to work in this great state every day and millions more visit on a yearly basis. There are many cities and towns in Texas from which to choose when thinking about moving to the great state.
Dallas is one of the most popular cities in Texas. This city offers so much to do. It has four professional sports teams as well as several major corporations that are located in Dallas. The Texas Stars hockey team is based in Dallas as well. Many celebrities have been born in Dallas including musicians and actors like Johnny Guitar and Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Deion Sanders.
Houston is also a popular city in Texas. It is the state's largest city and is known for its diverse population, great restaurants, and historic architecture. It is also rich in cultural history with several historically significant sites and landmarks.
Austin is another extremely popular Texas city. It is also the third largest city in the Texas. It is located just south of San Antonio on Highway 360. It has one of the best demographics of people in the entire country. Austin, TX is one of the few cities in the United States where everyone knows someone who has come to the state to visit family or has worked in an office there. This wide diversity of the population ensures that Austin, TX has something for everyone.
The third largest city in Texas, Houston is a logical choice for anyone who wants to relocate to this part of the country. It is situated on the bayou in the middle of Texas. There are many parks in Houston, where one can enjoy water activities such as swimming and fishing.
Houston is home to one of the most diverse groups of people. It has an ethnic, economic, religious, political, and historical mix that simply isn't found in other southern cities. As this part of Texas has changed over time, so too have the people that call Texas home. There have been some large immigration waves to the state, and these immigrants bring with them an ethnicity and a culture all their own.
The fourth largest city in Texas, Dallas is known for being a crossroads between two very different regions. It is central in the Texas oil fields and very prosperous in its political clout. Many famous names have roots in Texas, and Dallas is the state capitol. It has an exciting history with many battles fought over the state's rights to Texas territories. The city also has a popular rodeo in Dallas that is world famous.
The fifth most populous city in Texas, Houston is also one of its most popular cities. Like many of the other Texas popular cities, it was a former railroad's capital. Its rich history and the energy it provides attract a good deal of workers from out of state as well as local residents, who enjoy the abundance of resources and the energy it generates. As more is learned about Texas and all that it has to offer, the influx will only continue to increase.
Austin, another one of the most popular Texas cities, was named one of the top ten best places to live by the US Times. The vibrant college town and surrounding areas are considered to be central to the Texas economy. There are many festivals and events that take place in this region, which make it even more popular each year. It is also home to the third largest film industry in the country.
San Antonio is also growing in popularity as a destination. This historic city offers a lot for the tourist and the family. It is known for having one of the largest Latin-speaking populations in the nation. It has a strong economic presence and is a popular destination for people moving from other parts of Texas.
Fort Worth is another growing popular Texas destination. This area is known for having both a vibrant music scene and for being a world class business city. It has some of the best public transportation in the state and is close to the Eastern Texas Plain. It is also a safe place to live in and provides easy access to North Texas.