The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 60, July 1956 - April, 1957

Agitation in Texas for Reopening the Slave Trade

ernor polled 436 votes as against 267 for his conservative oppo-
nent, Edward Clark."41
On contemplating the defeat of the "slave-trade" ticket, Cush-
ing, editor of the Telegraph, professed to be genuinely surprised,
because, he said, every English language newspaper in the state,
with one exception, had favored reopening the slave trade. "Is it
any wonder then," explained Cushing, "that with this showing of
public feeling we were impressed with the belief that the people
were in large majority in favor of these views?" But, admitted the
editor, the election appeared to show that many did not wish to
see the trade opened legally. So, "let us be still a while, though we
continue to hold the same views." White men, he reported, ought
to be freed from manual labor "by the ox and the Negro." To
speak of the "dignity of labor," he said, was but to employ a "catch
phrase of demagogues."'42 Later in the fall, Cushing had occasion
to note, from the press exchanges, that a "cargo of Africans, num-
bering some six hundred," had recently been landed along the
Gulf Coast near Florida. "We presume," the editor commented,
"that they are now snugly ensconced on nearly as many planta-
tions in the Southwestern states." No doubt "this new arrival of
Southern laborers in our midst will cause expressions of worry
from such nervous papers as the Galveston Civilian," observed
Cushing, as he further consoled "progressive Texans" with the
assurance that, although "persons may rant and rave as much
as they please about the 'sin,' if Texas needs more farm help she
will get the help."'4
The next attempt, however, to secure legal African labor was
delayed by the issue of secession itself which dominated the two
years intervening between the 1859 election and the eventual
Secession Convention, subsequent referendum, and the with-
drawal of Texas from the Union.
41lbid., August 1, 1859.
42Houston Telegraph, August 19, 1859.
41lbid.

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 60, July 1956 - April, 1957. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101163/. Accessed December 21, 2014.