The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 79, July 1975 - April, 1976 Page: 144
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
That passage could have been written specifically about the activities of
Mills. Marriage into a planter family from South Carolina and the acquisi-
tion of slaves, steps which mirrored the changing nature of Navarro County
and of frontier Texas in the I85os, probably drew Mills away from his
earlier Whiggish and American party inclinations and brought him closer
to the states' rights philosophy which flourished in the Deep South.
Yet to be elected to the legislature, Mills apparently had to win support,
not only from slaveholders, but also from nonslaveholders who aspired to
slave ownership or felt a social and political kinship with him. The attitude
of such an electorate recently has been termed "Herrenvolk democracy"-
or democracy for the dominant race but not for subordinant ones such as
blacks in the South-a view which probably dominated much of the
southern frontier."4 Thus even when Mills and his supporters criticized the
federal government for failing to defend the frontier, their concern arose
in part from the threat to their growing economic and social status based
on slavery. Furthermore, young men "on the make," such as Mills and
many of his frontier constituents, might react more strongly to threats
against the growth of slavery than well established planters in older states
or counties. In I86o and I861 such threats suddenly seemed to abound,
with secession presented as the only alternative to continued instability
within the Union. Just as he had fearlessly struck out on his own at the
age of seventeen, so Mills again chose a bold response to meet apparent
threats to his young adopted state; thus he could "thank God for" secession.
A detailed understanding of the actions and events that made a seces-
sionist of a rather typical young politician such as Roger Mills illuminates
the process by which Texans in general arrived at that critical decision,
perhaps more than biographies and studies which focus upon the activities
of prominent and ardent leaders of the movement. Moreover, those events
help explain the crucial links which bound the Texas frontier to slavery
and secession-links missed by historians who concluded that, "the north-
west had reacted from the neglect of the federal government to provide
[frontier] protection . .. and carried with it the adjacent counties in the
central west lying above the plantation belt."3
34Ibid.; George M. Fredrickson, The Black Image in the White Mind: The Debate
on Afro-American Character and Destiny, 1817-194 (New York, 1971), 61 (quota-
s5Charles William Ramsdell, "The Frontier and Secession," Studies in Southern His-
tory and Politics (New York, 1914), 79 (quotation); Craven, The Growth of Southern
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 79, July 1975 - April, 1976, periodical, 1975/1976; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101203/m1/176/: accessed April 23, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.