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How Texas Got Its Shape — And How We Celebrate It

Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
If you stay in a hotel in Texas, you should expect your waffles like this.

History has molded Texas — literally — to form today's unmistakable shape with its sharp angles of the Panhandle, sweeping curves along Mexico and jagged edges near the Red River and the Gulf.

Now, nearly 170 years since the state's borders were defined, we eat Texas-shaped waffles, swim in Texas-shaped pools and sleep on Texas-shaped pillows.

It's something Texans take pride in and wear as a badge of honor. Plain and simple.

It began with defiance

Like everything else, there’s a story behind how Texas got its unique shape.  

Credit Texas Almanac
Map of the territorial changes from the Compromise of 1850.

Let's start on Oct. 2, 1835 — back when Texas was still a part of Mexico. That's when rebels, who came to be known as Texians, refused to return a small, brass cannon to Mexico. 

The phrase "Come and take it!" should ring a bell.

Their defiance sparked the Battle of Gonzales — considered to be the first of the Texas Revolution. 

Exactly five months later, Texas declared independence from Mexico.  

The Republic of Texas existed for nine years until it joined the United States on Dec. 29, 1845.

Texas was even bigger back then. It used to cover the entire state plus portions of New Mexico, Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado and Wyoming.

Today's Texas shape was largely defined by the Compromise of 1850. In that deal, Texas, which was deep in debt, was offered $10 million by the U.S. government in exchange for giving up all land north and west of its modern-day boundaries.

Since then, there were attempts to divide Texas into smaller states — but none of them were successful.

'This is a foreign country'

Watch a short video from The History Channel on how Texas got its shape and what it means to people who call it home. 

Find Texas just about anywhere

Texans aren't shy about how they feel about their state. And it turns out that things large and small can be reproduced — and Texans would argue made better — in the shape of Texas. Below are just a few examples. 

If you want to contribute your Texas-shaped treasure, tweet us at @keranews.

You can spot the shape of Texas...

In a crop field

At a swimming pool

On the roof 

In the bathroom

As the letter "O"

As a juicy steak

In a cup of coffee 

On a Texan's body forever

As a bottle of tequila 

On the grill 

In a bag of H-E-B chips

During the total solar eclipse

In a glass of sweet tea