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Mirabeau Buonaparte Lamar
San Jacinto Museum of History

President Houston was succeeded by a personal and political enemy, Mirabeau Lamar, an imperialist who envisioned Texas expanding even beyond the boundaries shown on this 1841 map of the Republic, perhaps all the way to the Pacific Ocean. During the three years of Lamar's administration, Texas took no further steps toward joining the United States. Although the president of the Republic of Texas, Mirabeau Buonaparte Lamar, urged the Texas congress to establish public schools in 1838, public education was little developed until the annexation of Texas to the United States. Private schools, known as Cornfield schools, provided teachers who rotated among the plantations and communities during the 1840s and 1850s.
The public educational system was launched by a law passed in 1854. Then, under the constitution of 1876, a state board of education was created and part of the revenue raised from taxation and from the sale of public lands was set aside to support public education. The discovery of oil on the lands that were earmarked for the support of schools and colleges has subsequently increased the value of the Permanent School Fund and the University Endowment Fund to several hundred million
dollars each.

The 24 elected members of the state board of education appoint a commissioner of education, who heads the Texas education agency. Some school districts are directly responsible to this agency, and others are supervised by locally elected county superintendents. Progress has been made to improve educational facilities for the rural population, as well as for the rapidly growing urban population. Significant developments have been the enforcement of compulsory attendance laws for children from the age of 6 to 17, the closing of all one-room schools, and a drastic reduction in the number of school districts. Private schools enroll 6 percent of the state's children.

Higher Education in Texas has a comprehensive system of colleges and universities. In 1996 the state had 107 public schools and 72 private institutions of higher education. The oldest institution of higher education in Texas is Southwestern University, in Georgetown, founded in 1840. Other notable schools include Baylor University (1845, in Waco,) Rice University (1891), the University of Houston (1927), Texas Southern University (1947), in Houston, Texas Christian University (1873), in Fort Worth; and Southern Methodist University (1911), in Dallas. The Texas A&M University System includes Texas A&M University (1876), in College Station and nine other campuses. The University of Texas (1876) has principal campuses in Austin, Arlington, Brownsville, Dallas (in Richardson), Edinburg (University of Texas-Pan American), El Paso, Houston, Odessa (University of Texas of the Permian Basin), San Antonio, and Tyler. Lamar University (1923), in Beaumont; University of North Texas (1890) and Texas Woman's University (1901), in Denton; Sam Houston State University (1879), in Huntsville; Southwest Texas State University (1899), in San Marcos; Stephen F. Austin State University (1923), in Nacogdoches; and Texas Tech University (1923), in Lubbock, are also highly regarded public universities.

There are 499 tax-supported public library systems in the state, circulating each year an average of 4.3 books for each resident. The largest public libraries are in Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio.

The libraries of The University of Texas at Austin, the fifth largest academic library in North America, consist of four separate collections that include more than seven million volumes. It is noted for its collection of rare books, original manuscripts by modern authors, and materials on Texas.

The Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library is also located on the Austin campus. The Armstrong Browning Library at Baylor University has original manuscripts by 19th-century English poet Robert Browning.

The Houston Museum of Natural Science, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, the Dallas Museum of Natural History, the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts, and Science Place in Dallas are only some of the many museums in these cities. Valuable art collections have been acquired by the Amon Carter Museum of Western Art in Fort Worth, the Marion Koogler McNay Art Museum in San Antonio, the Elisabet Ney Museum in Austin, and the El Paso Museum of Art. Of historical interest are the Texas Memorial Museum of the University of Texas at Austin, the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum at Canyon, and the Witte Museum in San Antonio.

Texas journalism had its start in 1813, when two newspapers, Gaceta de Tejas and El Mejicano, were published in Nacogdoches. An early English-language newspaper of significance was the Telegraph and Texas Register, first published at San Felipe in 1835. Those with the largest circulations were the Houston Chronicle and Post, the Dallas Morning News, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, the San Antonio Express-News, and the Austin American-Statesman.

Interest in music and drama is a vital part of Texas's cultural tradition, and the state has contributed significantly to national achievements in these fields. Most sizable cities and most colleges and universities have local concert series and theaters. The most prominent locally supported orchestras are the Houston, Dallas, and San Antonio symphony orchestras. The last also sponsors civic opera. The Dallas Civic Opera and Houston Grand Opera Association provide opera seasons. The Kalita Humphreys Theater, designed by the American architect Frank Lloyd Wright, houses the Dallas Theatre Center. It is the successor to the renowned Margo Jones Theater, which pioneered presentations of plays-in-the-round. Other active groups are the Casa Maņana at Fort Worth, the Alley Theater and Houston Theater Center in Houston, and the Little Theater in San Antonio.

Texas is governed under a constitution adopted in 1876, as amended. Four earlier constitutions had been adopted, in 1845, 1861, 1866, and 1869. An amendment to the constitution may be proposed by the legislature. To become effective, the amendment must be approved by a majority of people voting on the issue in an election.

The chief executive of Texas is a governor, who is elected to a term lasting four years and may be reelected any number of times. The lieutenant governor, who succeeds the governor should the latter resign, die, or be removed from office, is also elected, as are the attorney general, treasurer, comptroller of public accounts, commissioner of agriculture, and commissioner of general land office. The influential Texas Railroad Commission, made up of three people popularly elected to six-year terms, regulates the state's production of petroleum, natural gas, and coal, as well as its railroads and trucking industry.

The Texas legislature is composed of a Senate and a House of Representatives. The 31 senators are popularly elected to four-year terms, and the 150 representatives are elected to two-year terms. The legislature convenes in January.

The highest tribunals in Texas are the Supreme Court and the Court of Criminal Appeals, each with nine justices popularly elected to six-year terms. The state's intermediate court of civil appeals is composed of judges popularly elected to six-year terms, and the major trial courts, called district courts, are made up of judges elected to four-year terms. Among the other tribunals in Texas are corporation courts and municipal courts.

Texas is divided into 254 counties, more than any other state, and some 1,171 cities and towns. Each county is governed by an elected commissioners court consisting of a county judge or administrator and four commissioners. Other elected county officers include the county attorney, treasurer, sheriff, and assessor-collector of taxes. Many of the cities used the council-manager or commissioner-manager form of government.

Texas elects two senators and 30 representatives to the Congress of the United States. The state casts 32 electoral votes for president.

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