Houston, Texas has a long and storied political history. For more than a decade, the city has voted Democratic and its mayors have been Democrats for over two decades. The region was once home to the Karankawa and Atakapa indigenous peoples for at least two thousand years before the first known settlers arrived. In the 1830s, the land was settled and the original municipal government was established with a mayor and eight councilors elected in general.
Two amendments to the statutes in 1839 and 1840 divided the city into four neighborhoods, using Main and Commerce Streets as axes. Each neighborhood elected two councilors under this system. Although neighborhoods are no longer political divisions, some of their names are still used today. In the early days of statehood, historian Harold Platt noted the rise of civic-commercial elites, a term borrowed from Blaine A.
Business leaders blurred the lines between economic activity and social relations. An example of this was Thomas W. House, who started out in Houston as a junior partner of the elderly Searn. House married Searn's daughter and transitioned from a bakery to a cotton merchant store before moving into banking and real estate businesses.
By the mid-1850s, his investment portfolio included transportation companies such as plank roads, railroads, and shipping companies. House was also one of the founders of the Slearn Methodist Church and co-founder of Houston's first volunteer fire company. In 1857 he was elected councilor. In the 1970s, Houston's Chinese American community began to grow rapidly. The Third District became the center of the city's African-American community and in 1979 African-Americans were elected to the city council for the first time since Reconstruction. During this period, five African-Americans served on the city council.
At the end of the 1970s there was a population boom due to the Arab oil embargo. People from Rust Belt states moved to Houston at a rate of more than 1,000 per week, mostly from Michigan, and are still moving to Houston today. In October 2001, Enron, a Houston-based energy company, was involved in accounting scandals that ultimately led to its collapse and that of its accounting firm Arthur Andersen as well as the arrest and imprisonment of several executives. Following Hurricane Katrina in 2005, some 200,000 New Orleans residents resettled in Houston. Soon after Katrina, Hurricane Rita arrived as a category 5 hurricane causing 2.5 million Houstonians to evacuate -the largest urban evacuation in U.
S. history. The political climate in Houston is moderately liberal while Harris County is somewhat liberal. In Harris County 55.9% of people voted for Democrats in the last presidential election while 42.7% voted for Republicans and 1.4% voted for Independents. Houston became Texas' largest city in 1930 with a population of 292,000. The Allen brothers named their city Sam Houston and persuaded Texas Congress to designate it as the temporary capital of the new Republic of Texas (see CAPITALS).
The Houston Railroads employed more than 1,100 workers many of them in big stores owned by South Pacific Railroad, Houston and Texas Central Railroad and Houston Railroad East and West Texas. In 2004 Bill White was mayor of Houston when it inaugurated its first statue of Mahatma Gandhi in Hermann Park. The Texas government left Houston for Austin in 1839 but it adapted to its agricultural pace. Other highways began construction by 1861 making Houston Southeast Texas' railroad center with five lines extending 50-100 miles south southeast west east and northwest. A month later on San Jacinto River in East Texas Houston retaliated leading Texas forces to kill more than 600 Mexican soldiers and capture their commander General Antonio López de Santa Anna. Three years later his executors approved spending funds to locate new cancer treatment center at University of Texas named after Anderson in Houston. Within a few years oil companies were setting up offices in Houston to manage oil fields in East Texas but Buffalo Bayou Brazos & Colorado Railway was first railroad to operate in Texas ending in Harrisburg -Houston's rival in east. Paul Bremond a Houston merchant began slow northwesterly construction of Houston & Texas Central Railroad in 1853. Houston has had an interesting political journey, from its early days as part of Republic of Texas to its current status as one of America's most populous cities with an ever-changing political landscape.
From its earliest days when Thomas W House blazed a trail for civic-commercial elites to its current status as an important hub for African American culture and politics, Houston has been shaped by its political history. The city has seen many changes over time including population booms due to oil embargoes and natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina which brought thousands of new residents from New Orleans seeking refuge from disaster. Houston is now home to many different cultures which have all contributed to its unique political landscape with moderate liberalism being prevalent throughout Harris County where 55.9% voted Democrat during last presidential election while 42.7% voted Republican. Houston's political history is an interesting one that has shaped it into what it is today -a vibrant city full of culture and diversity that continues to evolve with each passing year.