African-Americans represented a significant portion of early settlers in the region. Of the 1800 people in the Austin colony in 1826, 443 (approximately twenty-five percent) were slaves, presumably of African descent. As Anglo Americans and other European ethnicities continued to pour into the territory, the percentage of the population made up of African Americans dropped, but remained substantial in overall numbers. The 1836 population estimates reported above indicate that the 5,000 slaves in the territory at the time made up roughly one-tenth of the population.
It is difficult to shape the dominant culture from the position of enslavement (or from the social underclass to which many African Americans in the state and the country belonged well past the turn of the 20th century) regardless of numbers. Nevertheless, African Americans were able to participate in some key events in the political development of Texas during the 1800s. They fought bravely in segregated regiments in the Union army during the Civil War, and they served honorably in the famous "buffalo soldier" regiments in the decades after the Civil War. From 1866 to the early 1890s two of those regiments were stationed at a variety of posts in Texas and the southwest, and distinguished themselves in the major campaigns against the Cheyenne, Kiowa, Comanche, Apache, Sioux, and Arapaho Indians. 
On the civilian side, a number of African Americans held public office in Texas during the Reconstruction period and after. The Constitutional Convention of 1868-1869 included ten African Americans. The product of the conventioneers labors was a constitution that protected civil rights, established the state's first public education system, and extended the voting franchise to all. And six African Americans (all Republicans) participated in the Texas Constitutional Convention of 1875, which produced the current Texas Constitution. Between 1868 and 1900, forty-three African Americans served in the state legislature. 
For African Americans during much of Texas history, democratic institutions and social justice were more than simply abstract ideals. They were fundamental to any chance for economic and social advancement, and indeed even for physical survival.
5 Handbook of Texas Online, link: "BUFFALO SOLDIERS," (accessed Feb 15, 2006).
6 Handbook of Texas Online, link: "AFRICAN AMERICANS," (accessed Feb 15, 2006).
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