The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 101, July 1997 - April, 1998

Book Reviews

In response to agricultural problems and social isolation, rural Texans found-
ed the Farmers' Alliance during the 1870os. Women became active in the organi-
zation and subsequently wrote dozens of letters to the state Alliance newspaper,
the Southern Mercury. Despite their participation in the organization, little evi-
dence remains of those women other than their newspaper correspondence.
These letters not only provide insight into the organization that became the
Populist Party, they illuminate the lives and thoughts of rural Texas women dur-
ing the late 188os and early 189os. At a time when few women ventured beyond
the sphere of domesticity, these rural women discussed politics, economics, and
suffrage in a public forum.
Marion K. Bartheleme's Women in the Texas Populist Movement: Letters to the
Southern Mercury presents a portrait of the women in the agrarian movement that
became the Populist Party and, through their letters, lets them speak in their
own voices. In the seventy-page introduction, Bartheleme integrates secondary
sources and excerpts from letters into a new narrative that provides a more com-
plete portrait of the women who became politically active in the Texas Farmers'
Alliance. In the body of the text, in chronological order, Bartheleme includes
18o letters, essays, and public addresses by women that were published in the
pages of the Southern Mercury. Each is accompanied by a brief label giving its
principal topic along with the date published and the author's name or pen
name and locale; some are briefly annotated. The index includes the names of
some, but unfortunately not all, of the writers.
Bartheleme considers these Texas Farmers' Alliance women to be "Populists,"
but most of the letters date from 1888 and 1889, before the formation of the
Populist Party (two Texas women did attend the founding convention in St.
Louis in 1892 as delegates). It is not clear why women's letters diminished after
1889, although Bartheleme offers some possible explanations involving internal
conflict within the Alliance. The connection she makes between these women
and Populism is subsequently weakened. In the final letter, for example, politi-
cal activist Bettie Gay refers not to the Populist Party, but to the Alliance.
The book is a welcome addition to the historical literature of Texas and suc-
ceeds in its dual purposes: it provides a portrait of the Texas women who sup-
ported the Populist movement but it also lets the women speak for themselves by
including their submissions to the Southern Mercury.
Rogers University MELISSA WIEDENFELD
The Senator and the Sharecropper's Son: Exoneration of the Brownsville Soldiers. By John
D. Weaver. (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1997. Pp.
xxii+271. Preface, illustrations, index. ISBN o-89o96-748-2. $29-95,
cloth.)
In 1970, John D. Weaver published The Brownsville Raid, in which he estab-
lished the innocence of the black soldiers accused of having shot up Brownsville,
Texas, in August 1906. Son of the court reporter for the Brownsville Court of
Inquiry in 191o and a biographer of Earl Warren, Weaver became fascinated

1998

545

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 101, July 1997 - April, 1998. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117155/. Accessed November 28, 2014.