Brownsville

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Brownsville,

city (1990 pop. 98,962), seat of Cameron co., extreme S Tex., on the Rio Grande c.17 mi (30 km) from its mouth at the Gulf of Mexico; inc. 1850. It is an important port of entry across the river from MatamorosMatamoros,
city (1990 pop. 266,055), Tamaulipas state, NE Mexico, near the mouth of the Rio Grande, opposite Brownsville, Tex. Matamoros, linked by rail and highway with the United States, is an international trading center and a point of entry.
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, Mexico. A deepwater channel was dredged (1936) to accommodate ocean vessels; a land cut NE to the Brazos Santiago Pass, which bypasses the Rio Grande channel, is the southern terminus of the Intracoastal WaterwayIntracoastal Waterway,
c.3,000 mi (4,827 km) long, partly natural, partly artificial, providing sheltered passage for commercial and leisure boats along the U.S. Atlantic coast from Boston, Mass. to Key West, S Fla., and along the Gulf of Mexico coast from Apalachee Bay, NW Fla.
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. Brownsville is a trade, processing, and distribution point for the rich, irrigated lower Rio Grande valley; it has many industries connected with oil and natural gas. Other products include shrimp, electronic equipment, and aircraft and auto parts. The establishment of Fort Texas there by Gen. Zachary TaylorTaylor, Zachary
, 1784–1850, 12th President of the United States (1849–50), b. Orange co., Va. He was raised in Kentucky. Taylor joined the army in 1808, became a captain in 1810, and was promoted to major for his defense of Fort Harrison (1812) in the War of 1812.
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 in 1846 invited a Mexican attack that precipitated the Mexican WarMexican War,
1846–48, armed conflict between the United States and Mexico. Causes

While the immediate cause of the war was the U.S. annexation of Texas (Dec., 1845), other factors had disturbed peaceful relations between the two republics.
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. The fort was renamed (1846) for Major Jacob Brown, killed while commanding its defense. Active until 1944, Fort Brown was held briefly by Union forces in the Civil War. The town of Brownsville grew around the fort and was a cattle-shipping point in the late 19th cent. In 1906 a group of African-American soldiers stationed at Fort Brown were blamed for a night gun raid on the town that resulted in an innocent civilian's death. President Theodore Roosevelt, in a highly controversial directive, ordered the dishonorable discharge of 167 of the soldiers. In 1972 the secretary of the army reversed that order. Brownsville has an international airport, and a zoo. Nearby recreation areas include Padre Island National Seashore (see under Padre IslandPadre Island
, low, sandy island, c.115 mi (185 km) long, less than 3 mi (4.8 km) wide, S Tex. It is characterized by large, irregular sand dunes, sparse vegetation, and a strong prevailing wind off the Gulf of Mexico.
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).