Southwestern Hzstorical Quarterly
This is essentially the story of Burleson the public man. Only in one of the
last chapters do we see much of Burleson the private citizen. The fault here is
not with authors, however, but rather the lack of material relating to Burleson's
Lamar Unzverszty RALPH A. WOOSTER
The Texas Senate: Volume I, Republic to Cwvil War, 1836-z86x. Edited by Patsy
McDonald Spaw. (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1990.
Pp. xiii + 394. Foreword, preface, illustrations, black-and-white photo-
graphs, maps, appendices, bibliographic essay, index. $50.oo.)
Lt. Gov. Hobby states in the foreword that despite the plethora of material on
Texas, nothing had ever been done on the Senate, and "we decided to remedy
that situation" (p. x). In the preface Spaw puts things in perspective, noting
that "the perception of our forebears as rowdy drunkards, criminals, and ne'er-
do-wells is skewed" (p. xi). Certainly some fit these descriptions, but most were
"men and women of unparalleled courage and determination-educated, in-
telligent, self-sacrificing" (p. xi). The Senate is further described as a dynamic
institution conducting the daily affairs of government. Right or wrong was not
always clear; and petty jealousies and prejudices often distorted judgment.
Spaw organizes the book chronologically. Part I, The Republic, is divided
into nine chapters, and Part II, Early Statehood, contains eight chapters. Scat-
tered throughout are pictures and illustrations which add richly to the story. A
series of appendices, well footnoted, provide quick reference for each Senate.
There is also a brief but thorough bibliographic essay on sources and related
It is difficult to present lists of names and hold a reader's attention, but the
authors do so by treating the members as flesh and blood, not just as heroes or
villains. At times they rose to great statesmanship, and sometimes they sank to
cronyism and petty wrangling.
Parading through the pages are the greats, but real value lies in reporting
on those lesser lights, Williamson, Grimes, Navarro, Kaufman, etc., and the
anecdotal material will delight the history buff. For instance we learn about
Oliver Jones, who designed the Lone Star Flag (p. 51); Henry Munson, "of
whom little is known" (p. 146); and James Durst, the first native Anglo-Texan
Senator (p. 246). It is interesting to note the inordinate amount of the time the
senators consumed debating contested seats, land claims, chaplaincy selection,
The volume of material perused was prodigious, and that in itself makes
some errors almost inevitable, but these do not detract from the scholarship.
Senators appear, disappear, and reappear, resulting in some repetition. For
example, the death of Robert Potter was first attributed to Regulators (p. 86),
but later he was reported murdered by Moderators (p. 107). One might also
quarrel with such statements as "it remains a mystery why" (p. 170) Navarro
supported the Revolution, since it is well known that he and his uncle Jose Ruiz
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 96, July 1992 - April, 1993. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101215/. Accessed April 26, 2015.