The Scramble for Texas: European Diplomacy and Imperial Contest in the Republic of Texas, 1835–1846

Penelope Lea Jacobus, University of Texas at El Paso


The story that this dissertation analyses is the attempted European penetration of the North American borderlands during the independence of the Texas Republic. It will analyse how the independence of Texas ties into new forms of imperialism exercised by Europeans and U.S.-Americans during the first half of the nineteenth century, a time when shifting ideas about freedom and coercion, international law and rights, civilisation, nationhood, and trade redefined imperial possibilities. Imperialism in the nineteenth century had to be increasingly compatible with ideas of freedom and justice, such as free trade, free labour and the use of fair legal tenets in the conduct among nations and diplomacy to solve international conflicts. Emigration projects and settler colonialism were also understood as more “humane” and acceptable forms of imperialism. Thus, this dissertation builds on the concept of informal empire established in “The Imperialism of Free Trade” by Gallagher and Robinson, who argue that colonial imperialism, i.e. the possession of territory, is not the only form of imperial influence. I combine the framework of informal empire with world-systems analysis in order to create an imperial, collaborative and competitive web. Because I am considering interests of states such as the German states or Mexico in Texas, and because I do not look at core states’ interests in isolation therefrom, my analysis of European imperialism in North America offers richer perspectives on how European relationships functioned with other Europeans and Americans in North America. This approach will enable me to highlight the Republic of Texas' relevance to broader global currents such as discussions on abolitionism, economics, and the development of nation-states and the law of nations.

Subject Area

World History|International Relations|American history

Recommended Citation

Jacobus, Penelope Lea, "The Scramble for Texas: European Diplomacy and Imperial Contest in the Republic of Texas, 1835–1846" (2020). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI27999768.