Texas is a great place. It’s the second largest and second most populous state in the Union. Texans see their state more like an independent nation. And why not? After all, Texas was its own country between 1836-45. When it became a U.S. territory, it retained the right to fly its flag at the same height as the U.S. flag.
Texas has the allure of the Old West, of deserts and cowboys and wild gunslingers. It’s the place where President Kennedy was shot and killed, and where David Koresh and his religious sect, the Branch Dividians, were headquartered. Texas is both fiercely conservative and amazingly liberal. It’s home to the Bush clan, yet it’s also home to Austin, a city so progressive it’s been dubbed the “People’s Republic of Austin” by other Texans. Last month the Texas Department of Corrections executed its 500th death row prisoner, Kimberly McCarthy, whose last words were: “I love you all. God is great.” Yup, welcome to Texas.
Here are 6 fascinating facts of just how wacky this great state is. And when in doubt: Don’t Mess With Texas!
1. Rewriting History
In 2010, the Texas Board of Education changed its history textbooks to reflect what they considered to be a more balanced view of history. Among the ordered changes: Senator Joe McCarthy was correct when he said the U.S. government was infiltrated by communists. Textbooks were also altered to diminish the influence of Latino role models like Cesar Chavez.
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2. No Encyclopedias!
It’s (sort of) illegal for Texas residents to look up fun facts about Texas in the encyclopedia. There are some wacky state laws in Texas that are left over from the old days: Wire cutters cannot be carried in your pocket (this was to help against cattle rustling). Also, the Encyclopedia Britannica is banned because it contains a formula for making beer at home.
3. Wild Horses
The term ‘maverick’ comes from Texas lawyer, Samuel A. Maverick (1803-1870), who refused to brand his cattle. Unbranded cattle became known as mavericks.
4. Toll Roads
The state of Texas still owns all its public lands. If the federal government wants any land, for a railroad, highway or park, it has to ask Texas for permission.
If Texas were a country, it would be the 40th largest country in the world, but it would rank as the world’s 7th largest producer of greenhouse gases. This is one of the least fun facts about Texas.
The first word spoken from the moon was “Houston,” by Apollo 11 astronaut Neil Armstrong in 1969.