Aorris Wright Cu#i ad rexas
/Republica Politics, 1883-1896
PAUL DOUGLAS CASDORPH
NORRIS WRIGHT CUNEY, A NEGRO AND A NATIVE-BORN TEXAN,
was from about 1883 until 1896 the leader of the Re-
publican Party in Texas. He was a man of no small
ability and has been ranked "among the greatest political leaders
in Texas."1 During that period of Republican control in Wash-
ington, Cuney enjoyed considerable power because of his ability
to influence the distribution of federal patronage in the state.
Cuney, born on a plantation near Hempstead in 1846, had
been sent north to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, for an education in
1859.2 Later he returned to Galveston and began reading law.
As an educated Negro in Texas after the Civil War it was easy
for him to drift into the Radical Republican Reconstruction
organization within the state. He never held elective office, but
in 1871 was appointed sergeant-at-arms of the Twelfth Texas
He was a delegate from Texas to all Republican national con-
ventions from 1872 until his downfall in 1896.4 Cuney for some
time before 1883 had been a prominent member of state Repub-
lican conventions and, with the death of ex-Governor E. J. Davis
that year, he became the actual leader of the state Republican
Cuney controlled the Negro element in the state Republican
Party and it was that fact which gave to him control of the entire
party. He eventually was to lose control of the Negro vote, but
1Robert C. Cotner, James Stephen Hogg (Austin, 1959), 278.
"Maud Cuney Hare, Norris Wright Cuney (New York, 1913), 3-4.
'Although a delegate to the national convention in 1896, Cuney was not seated
as will be shown later.
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 68, July 1964 - April, 1965. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101198/. Accessed February 1, 2015.