The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 34, July 1930 - April, 1931

Book Reviews and Notices

Debates in the Texas Constitutional Convention of 1875. Com-
piled and edited by Seth Shepard McKay. (Austin, Uni-
versity of Texas Press, 1930. Pp. 471.)
It is unforgivable for a state constitutional convention to fail
to provide for the publication of its debates and deliberations.
Without such, historians, jurists, and political scientists are put
to great inconvenience in attempting to reconstruct the political
philosophy and surrounding atmosphere under the influence of
which the framers of a constitution worked. The need for pre-
serving a record of the proceedings of the Texas convention of
1875 was fully realized by many of its members, but the spirit of
rigid economy, which was the dominant force behind many of the
decisions of the convention, prevailed in this matter, and it was
decided after considerable discussion that the state of Texas could
not afford the luxury of a stenographer. This determination, no
doubt, was the poorest of economies when viewed in the light of
the problem of fifty-odd years of interpretation at the hands of
the legislature and the courts.
Professor McKay, therefore, has performed a great service to
the people of Texas in this arduous labor of reconstructing from
the contemporary newspapers the gist of what went on in the
convention. Only occasionally are speeches reproduced verbatim;
for the most part summaries in the third person of what was said
by participants in the debates are the best that the editor was
able to produce, and for many days these are obviously incomplete.
None the less, one may easily follow the trend of business and
attain an adequate knowledge of the ideas that actuated the mem-
bers of this most interesting convention. The editor states in his
preface that the most useful newspaper was the Daily State Gazette
(Austin). Other useful papers were the Austin Statesman, Dal-
las Herald, Galveston News, Houston Telegraph, and Panola
Watchman (Carthage). The material is arranged chronologically
and corresponds to the Journal of the convention, which contains
the committee reports, ordinances, resolutions, etc.
One is tempted to summarize some of the important discussions
of the convention, but space and the purpose of this review will
not permit. Suffice it to say that the conservative character of
its members is patent whenever salaries, supposedly useless offi-
cers or superfluous functions were under discussion. The old

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 34, July 1930 - April, 1931. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101091/. Accessed April 17, 2014.