The 1850 Brownsville Separatist Movement

In the year 1850, separatists in Brownsville tried to rally support for the creation of the Territory of the Rio Grande, separate from the state of Texas. What would the people of the region choose: become a separate territory or stay a part of Texas? Learn more about this controversial issue during the Sunday Speaker Series presentation, “Texas or Territory? The 1850 Brownsville Separatist Movement,” featuring Joseph Fox on Sunday, Sept. 2, at 2 p.m.

With the Rio Grande recognized as the border between Mexico and the United States, by the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo, the town of Brownsville was established opposite of Matamoros and quickly grew into the largest city on the north side of the river. In the midst of this boom, the 1850 Brownsville Separatists tried to rally support for the creation of a “Territory of the Rio Grande” separate from the state of Texas. This question embroiled the region in national conflicts between the Democrats and Whigs, as well as giving birth to the factions such as the Reds and the Blues that dominated early Brownsville politics.

Fox, who earned a master’s degree in history from Texas State University, is the associate education officer at the Museum of South Texas History. His areas of research include borderland and Texas music history. He has written articles for the Handbook of Texas History and a historical marker for the Texas Historical Commission.