Storm Over Texas: The Annexation Controversy and the Road to Civil War, author Joel H. Silbey, wrote this novel to explain how the annexation controversy destroyed the Second Party System and allowed sectionalism to dominate American politics. Joel Silbey’s Storm Over Texas examines the Texas annexation crisis from a national perspective and contends that the political controversies surrounding the admission of Texas into the Union fractured America’s political parties into northern and southern conflicts. According to the author, the central issue involved in the debates over annexation was slavery. Unlike previous crises involving the South’s outstanding institution where sampling discrimination had prevented local controversy from overriding party collaboration, the debates over the admission of Texas in the 1840s divided the Whig and Democratic parties along separate ones and created a dominant political issue which ultimately led the country down the path to civil war. To reinforce this point, the author reveals how the annexation issue influenced David Wilmot to propose his excellent condition during the war with Mexico, transformed slavery into the dominant political issue during the 1850s, and established the tone of the debates over major political controversies.
In Storm Over Texas Sibley had many sources that fit perfect with the novel. For example. When Sibley stated, “What made annexation a popular cause among so many Americans was its connection to the nation’s values and aspirations as well as the economic benefits promised in the uniting of the two republics.” The author was explaining how the annexation was linked to the nation and what its intentions were. Also, there was another great example, when the author said, “Not everyone, policymakers, political leaders, or their constituents, welcomed the idea of the additional territory being added to the Union, or agreed with the enthusiastic hopes of the expansionists” Silbey pointed out how majority of Americans were against territorial expansion. In contrast, there were a couple of sources that I believe should’ve been talked about more in Storm Over Texas, like Sam Houston’s role in the annexation of Texas.
Although, Silbey did add a majority of Sam Houston’s role in what was in the novel. In my opinion, the author should’ve focused less on some topics and spent more time on topics that were very important on the annexation of Texas.Although Silbey has fabricated one of the best single volume studies of Texas annexation, scholars will likely find Storm Over Texas complicated. The novel was an overall success, but there were some subjects Silbey aimed for that weren’t what they could’ve been.
For example, Sam Houston, who played an essential role in securing annexation, is only mentioned a couple of times. Silbey described Sam Houston as a hero and stated, “Sam Houston was the Republic of Texas’s pro-annexation hero and president. Library of Congress.” Sam Houston was hardly in the story. I believe Silbey could’ve included Sam Houston more into the novel. Mainly, because Sam Houston did play a significant role in the annexation controversy.
Also, Silbey doesn’t provide many details on how the annexation crisis impacted Whigs and Republicans. Finally, the author exaggerated the role that annexation of Texas played in transforming the nation’s political parties and in leading the country to civil war. While the annexation crisis was tangled with the debates over slavery, it seems a little exaggerated to say that it was the crucial issue which destroyed the Jacksonian party system and was the first step on the path to the Civil War.
Maybe the right critical moment was the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska bill in 1854. In contrast, Storm Over Texas is an inspiring study which will interest scholars and students who want to know more about the politics of Texas annexation.