The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 81, July 1977 - April, 1978

Book Reviews

piece of the puzzle as historians continue to put together the total picture
of the impact of the railroad on economic and social development.
Texas Christian University THOMAS B. BREWER
A Nation Within a Nation: The Rise of Texas Nationalism. By Mark E.
Nackman. (Port Washington, New York: Kennikat Press, National
University Publications, 1976. Pp. 183. Bibliography, index. $12.50.)
A Nation Within a Nation traces the development of Texas nationalism
from its colonization by citizens of the United States during the early 182os
to the permanent arrangement of the state's boundaries in the Compromise
of I850. In six tightly organized chapters Mark E. Nackman achieves a
nice blend of thematic and narrative history, the former being emphasized
rather more than the latter. A brief epilogue touches upon contemporary
manifestations of Texas chauvinism. The work is based upon extensive
use of manuscripts, government documents, newspapers, and secondary
materials.
Many early migrants to Texas from the United States fled marital, fi-
nancial, and other domestic problems; many were fugitives from justice.
Nackman suggests that a large number of these early Texans were suicidally
inclined, and that a death wish motivated the defenders of the Alamo and
other martyrs of the revolution. We learn that of 359 members of various
Texas conventions and congresses between 1832 and I845, some 44 did not
die of natural causes. The author does not offer any speculation concern-
ing causation, nor does he compare the high incidence of violent death in
Texas with that of other frontier regions.
That they became almost immediately involved in a conflict of cultures
with Mexican residents and authorities heightened the self-awareness of
these early Texans. After independence, Texas, "like many an emerging na-
tion, fixed upon a neighbor enemy to insure solidarity and patriotism at
home" (p. 92). Thus the constant threat from Mexico, 1836-1845, con-
tributed to the consolidation of Texas nationalism. The attention lavished
upon the Republic by such powers as England, France, and, of course, the
United States, increased its self esteem. By I850 the sense of uniqueness,
devotion to place, pride of accomplishment, and intense state loyalty had
become fixed in the collective Texan consciousness. It lives on in the only
half-humorous chauvinism encountered so frequently among Texans today.
Some readers may feel that Nackman has placed undue emphasis upon
the harsher, seamier side of early Texas history. The reviewer, who spent
his first thirty-two years there, suspects that the book simply forces us to

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 81, July 1977 - April, 1978. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101205/. Accessed December 25, 2014.