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Ethnic Groups

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Texas, being the second largest state in the United States, has a very large and ethnically varied population. Since 1850, Texas has had more of a population growth in every decade than that of the entire population of the United States. Texas' population is growing older as the people of the post World War II reach their middle ages. It's estimated that the people over the age of 64 in Texas will more than double by the year 2020 in Texas. Four out of every ten Texans are either African American or Hispanic with the remainder predominately white. There are a small but very rapidly growing number of Asians and fewer than 70,000 Native Americans. The diverse set of ethnic groups in Texas causes a big impact on laws and legislature in Texas.

By 1800, Anglo settlements began to appear in East Texas. Although the first Anglos that immigrated to Texas were of English ancestry, some were Scottish, Irish, or Welsh. Additional immigrants to Texas included French, Scandinavian, and Eastern European peoples, with a few Italians and Greeks scattered about. It has been estimated that as many as 24,000 German immigrants settled in the Hill Country by 1860. Most of these people opposed slavery and as a result, fourteen counties in Central Texas voted 40 percent of higher against secession in 1861. Although the population growth of Anglo Americans declined during the Civil War and Reconstruction, it picked back up in the 1870's. Although the 2000 census says Anglos compose 52 percent, population projections show that this will most likely decline and the percentage of other groups will increase.

From 1836, when Texas became independent from Mexico, to 1900 there was little to no immigration from Mexico to Texas. Latinos primarily remained in areas such as Goliad, Laredo, and San Antonio. In South Texas, they were the primary population even though many Anglos were beginning to settle there after the Mexican War of 1846-1848. During the Civil War, however, Latinos moved west to displace Native Americans from their land. The rise of commercial agriculture created a need for seasonal laborers in the twentieth century. Many Latinos picked cotton, fruits and vegetables, or worked as ranch hands or shepherds. Latinos saw an improvement in wages and working conditions after World War II because they became more skilled and had more managerial, sales, and clerical professions. In the second half of the twentieth century, the Latinos' population surged because of high birth rates and surges of both legal and illegal immigration from Mexico, Central America, South America, and the Caribbean Islands. In 2000, Texas' population was nearly one-third Latino with 76 percent of those Latino's being from Mexico. Immigration from Mexico is continued to continue and the political influence in Texas is increasing. In 1984 Raul Gonzalez was elected to the Texas Supreme court making him the first Latino to win a statewide office. Latino elected officials skyrocketed. By 2003, the number of Latino elected officials in Texas reached 2,200. Organizations such as the League of United Latin American Citizens and the Southwest Voter Registration Education Project have worked to increase voter registration and turnout among Latinos in recent years. In 2003, six Latinos represented Texas in the U.S. House of Representatives, while 37 served in the Texas Legislature.

The first African Americans entered Texas as slaves of Spanish explorers in the sixteenth century. About the time slavery was abolished in Mexico, Anglos began to bring a greater number of black slaves to Texas. By 1847, African Americans accounted for one-fourth of the states population. During Reconstruction, there was a small wave of freemen migration to Texas and they often resided in "freedman towns." Black labor also contributed significantly to the economic development of Texas cities and helped make Texas a more industrialized society. In 2000, Texas had 2.4 million African Americans, which was more than 11 percent of the state's population. It is one of the more slowly increasing ethnic groups but recently a significant number of African Americans that have immigrated to the US are settling in Texas for a higher standard of living and better wages. Their political influence has also greatly increased. In 1972, Barbara Jordan became the first African American since Reconstruction to represent Texas in congress and Morris Overstreet became



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