Wheat Growers in the Cotton Confederacy:
The Suppression of Dissent in Collin County,
Texas, During the Civil War
RICHARD B. MCCASLIN*
ON JANUARY 28, 1861, THE TEXAS LEGISLATURE ENDORSED A
statewide convention that had gathered to consider secession. Leg-
islator Robert H. Taylor from North Texas denounced this action, ask-
ing, "In this new Cotton Confederacy what will become of my section, the wheat
growers and stock raisers?" He answered by asserting that secessionists
would "hang, burn, confiscate property and exile any one who may be in
the way of their designs." Sadly, he proved correct. Like other North
Texans, many in Collin County operated independently of plantation
agriculture and slavery, the economic and social foundations of the Con-
federacy. Local political leaders encouraged opposition to the Democra-
tic party's drive for secession in Texas. When some voted against
disunion and refused to support the Confederacy, they were brutally at-
tacked in a campaign of violent supression that continued long after the
Civil War ended.'
Why was there a shift from relatively peaceful partisan rivalry, based
upon conflicting ideologies which were rooted in economic and politi-
cal circumstances, to a bloody campaign of suppression? Communal se-
* Richard B. McCaslin is an assistant professor of history at High Point University in North
Carolina. His dissertation, 'Tainted Breeze: The Great Hanging at Gainesville, Texas, October
1862," is being published by Louisiana State University Press. He is the author of Andrew Johnson:
A Bzblzography (Greenwood Press, 1992) and Portraits of Conflict: A Photographic Hstory of South Car-
olina in the Civil War (University of Arkansas Press, forthcoming).
'Robert H. Taylor's speech was published as a broadside; a copy can be found in the Robert
H. Taylor Papers at the Eugene C. Barker Texas History Center, University of Texas at Austin
(cited hereafter as BTHC). The plantation economy, slavery and partisanship have been repeat-
edly emphasized as important factors in creating ideological divisions concerning disunion in
Texas and elsewhere. The best explication of how these interacted in Texas is Walter L.
Buenger, Secession and the Union in Texas (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1984). For a study of
the secession controversy within a population similar to that in North Texas, see Daniel W.
Crofts, Reluctant Confederates: Upper South Unionists in the Secession Cnsis (Chapel Hill: University of
North Carolina Press, 1989). The violent suppression of dissent was not confined merely to the
northern counties of Texas. Five of the eight chapters in James Marten, Texas Divided: Loyalty and
Dzssent in the Lone Star State, 1856-1874 (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 199o) discuss
wartime dissent throughout the state and its suppression, which often included violent means.
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 February 1, 2015.