The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 60, July 1956 - April, 1957 Page: 322
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
commercial level, and improved technology expanded production.
Professor Spratt has consolidated and synthesized that economic
change to provide the story of Texas during those years.
Cotton became the most valuable commercial crop in Texas
as subsistence farming was abandoned. The author points out
to those critics who, then and now, have insisted that one-crop
cotton agriculture was the cause of the farmer's troubles, that
cotton brought the highest return per acre, was less likely to be
a complete failure, and depleted the soil less than other crops.
Lack of mechanization, not lack of diversification, meant that the
farmer was unable to compete with mechanized industry. With
the consequent lowering of agricultural returns, the farmer, and
to some extent the rancher, demanded the regulation of business,
especially of the railroads, the prevention of monopoly in busi-
ness or landholding, and the control of money by the government.
The Grange, the Alliance, and the Populist party were all in-
spired by agrarian discontent; they were all unsuccessful in secur-
ing immediate reform or in returning the farmer to a subsistence,
cash-operating level. The Texas State Railroad Commission was
the only tangible and immediate gain, and the author does not
stress its accomplishments.
No study of Texas in the nineteenth century would omit the
cattle industry, but Mr. Spratt is refreshingly interested, not in
glamor, but in economic fact. The rancher took over a large
part of the West, especially the Panhandle, in somewhat the same
fashion that the large corporation took over business, but at no
time did cattle supplant cotton as the major crop.
Texas industry in 1875 consisted chiefly of handicrafts intended
to supply the community; by 19goo the situation had not altered
appreciably, and lumbering, the largest industry, was almost the
only one looking beyond a local market. Mr. Spratt disagrees with
the oft-repeated statement that there was a shortage of labor
during the period. While the history of labor in Texas is difficult
to trace because information is scattered, available data indicate
that business, with law and public opinion on its side, was usually
successful in any battle with labor. Again the railroads, as the
biggest business in Texas, were most prominent in labor-man-
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 60, July 1956 - April, 1957, periodical, 1957; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101163/m1/351/: accessed December 14, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.