In the 1880s, battleships were in their infancy, and while the goal of heavy armament and armor was defined, the ships’ form was not. The Texas was authorized on 3 August 1886 in parallel with the armored cruiser Maine (Armored Cruiser No. 1, later Second Class Battleship No. 2). Her two single 12-inch gun turrets were mounted en echelon—the port turret slightly forward of amidships, the starboard one slightly aft. This gave both guns end-on fire. A 12-inch-thick armored redoubt encircled the turrets, together with the central conning tower.
The Texas, of British design but constructed at the Norfolk Navy Yard, was long in gestation, taking six years to complete after keel laying. Decidedly second class at her commissioning in 1895 (first-class centerline armed battleships were already in production with many more and more powerful main guns), she remained the most formidable battleship in the U.S. arsenal for only three months. At that point, the Indiana (Battleship No. 1), had been launched after just four years.