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Senate Roll Call on the Treaty of Annexation between the United States of America and the Republic of Texas, June 8, 1844

In 1844 the Senate rejected a treaty of annexation between the U.S. and Texas. The vote of 16 (for)–34 (against) fell far short of the two-thirds majority constitutionally required for ratification. Senator Thomas Hart Benton of Missouri led the opposition. Benton favored expansion, but argued that annexing Texas would intensify sectional conflict and rupture the Union.

Records of the U.S. Senate, National Archives and Records Administration

Senate Roll Call on the Treaty of Annexation between the United States of America and the Republic of Texas, June 8, 1844

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.