President Polk declares war on Mexico On May 13, 1846, the U.S. Congress overwhelmingly votes in favor of President James K. Polk’s request to declare war on Mexico in a dispute over Texas. Under the threat of war, theUnited States had refrained from annexing Texas after the latter won independence from Mexico in 1836. But in 1844, President John Tyler restarted negotiations with the Republic of Texas, culminating with a Treaty of Annexation. The treaty was defeated by a wide margin in the Senate because it would upset the slave state/free state balance between North and South and risked war with Mexico, which had broken off relations with the United States. But shortly before leaving office and with the support of President-elect Polk, Tyler managed to get the joint resolution passed on March 1, 1845.Texas was admitted to the union on December 29. While Mexico didn’t follow through with its threat to declare war, relations between the two nations remained tense over border disputes, and in July 1845, President Polk ordered troops into disputed lands that lay between the Neuces and Rio Grande rivers. In November, Polk sent the diplomat John Slidell to Mexico to seek boundary adjustments in return for the U.S. government’s settlement of the claims of U.S. citizens againstMexico and also to make an offer to purchase California and New Mexico. After the mission failed, the U.S. army under Gen. Zachary Taylor advanced to the mouth of the Rio Grande, the river that the state of Texas claimed as its southern boundary. Mexico, claiming that the boundary was the Nueces Riverto the northeast of the Rio Grande, considered the advance of Taylor’s army an act of aggression and in April 1846 sent troops across the Rio Grande. Polk, in turn, declared the Mexican advance to be an invasion of U.S. soil, and on May 11, 1846, asked Congress to declare war onMexico, which it did two days later. After nearly two years of fighting, peace was established by the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, signed on February 2, 1848. The Rio Grande was made the southern boundary ofTexas, andCalifornia andNew Mexico were ceded to the United States. In return, the United States paidMexico the sum of $15 million and agreed to settle all claims of U.S. citizens against Mexico. 1607 Jamestown settlers arrive Some 100 English colonists arrive along the west bank of the James River in Virginia to found Jamestown, the first permanent English settlement in North America. Dispatched from England by the London Company, the colonists had sailed across the Atlantic aboard the Susan Constant,Godspeed, and Discovery. Upon landing at Jamestown, the first colonial council was held by seven settlers whose names had been chosen and placed in a sealed box by King James I. The council, which included Captain John Smith, an English adventurer, chose Edward Wingfield as its first president. After only two weeks, Jamestown came under attack from warriors from the local Algonquian Native American confederacy, but the Indians were repulsed by the armed settlers. In December of the same year, John Smith and two other colonists were captured by Algonquians while searching for provisions in the Virginia wilderness. His companions were killed, but he was spared, according to a later account by Smith, because of the intercession of Pocahontas, Chief Powhatan’s daughter. During the next two years, disease, starvation, and more Native American attacks wiped out most of the colony, but the London Company continually sent more settlers and supplies. The severe winter of 1609 to 1610, which the colonists referred to as the “starving time,” killed most of the Jamestown colonists, leading the survivors to plan a return to England in the spring. However, on June 10, Thomas West De La Warr, the newly appointed governor of Virginia, arrived with supplies and convinced the settlers to remain at Jamestown. In 1612, John Rolfe cultivated the first tobacco at Jamestown, introducing a successful source of livelihood. On April 5, 1614, Rolfe married Pocahontas, thus assuring a temporary peace with Chief Powhatan. The death of Powhatan in 1618 brought about a resumption of conflict with the Algonquians, including an attack led by Chief Opechancanough in 1622 that nearly wiped out the settlement. The English engaged in violent reprisals against the Algonquians, but there was no further large-scale fighting until 1644, when Opechancanough led his last uprising and was captured and executed at Jamestown. In 1646, the Algonquian Confederacy agreed to give up much of its territory to the rapidly expanding colony, and, beginning in 1665, its chiefs were appointed by the governor of Virginia. 1975 The inventor of western swing dies Bob Wills, one of the most influential musicians in the history of country-western music, is born on a small farm near Kosse, Texas. Born James Robert Wills in 1905, he was trained to be a musician from an early age. His father was a champion fiddle player, and he began giving Wills lessons as soon as the boy could hold the instrument. By the time he was 10, Wills was a skilled fiddler and a competent guitar and mandolin player. Wills left home at 16 and worked various jobs, like picking cotton and preaching. He eventually joined a traveling medicine show, where he played fiddle and met Herman Arnspiger, a Texas farm boy who had learned to play guitar from a Sears catalog guitar book. The pair began playing at dances and parties around Fort Worth, and after adding a singer, won a regular radio gig performing as the Light Crust Doughboys. In 1933, the group separated and Wills formed the band that would make him famous: Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys. With the Playboys, Wills perfected his hard-driving country-western sound, which drew heavily on the rhythms of the popular jazz-swing bands of the era. Wills’ fiddle playing sounded nothing like the traditional folk music he had heard as a child. By using strong beats and syncopation, he produced a sound that seemed to cry out for dancing. Wills eventually added drums, brass, and woodwinds to the Texas Playboys, making himself into a country-western bandleader in the style of Benny Goodman or Artie Shaw. Several of his bands were as large as 22 pieces, and Wills worked with more than 600 musicians in his long career. In 1940, Wills took some of the Playboys to Hollywood, where the band appeared in a number of western movies that won them a nationwide following. Among their many hits were highly danceable tunes like, “Take Me Back to Tulsa,” “Bubbles in My Beer,” and the ever popular “San Antonio Rose.” All told, Wills has sold more than 20 million records to date Many critics have argued Wills and the Texas Playboys had a greater influence on the sounds of country-western music than any other performer or group. In recognition of his achievements, Wills was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1968. He believed his chances of winning were so slim he was backstage chatting with friends when the award was announced. When he was finally tracked down and brought on stage, he said, “I don’t usually take my hat off to nobody. But I sure do to you folks.” Stricken by a series of severe strokes, he died seven years later at the age of 70.