The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 92, July 1988 - April, 1989 Page: 378
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Southwestern Historzcal Quarterly
cism of the motives for such intervention, among which were personal
political ambitions, the desire to achieve a Radical revolution in the
state, and a tendency among army officers to arbitrary rule. Richter be-
lieves that the army's activities helped to prolong and worsen the Re-
construction experience because they promoted factionalism within the
state Republican party and because the uncertainty created by political
disorder resulted in intensified lawlessness.
Richter's second conclusion is that the military may have been the
major cause of the failure of Reconstruction. He believes that the in-
troduction of the army after the war raised the specter, inherent in
British-American legal traditions, of the dangers of an army not de-
pendent on, and superior to, civil authority, a fear that had been exac-
erbated by the experience of Texans during the war. The reliance of
the North upon the army as its chief instrument of reorganization pro-
vided a cause around which opposition to all of Reconstruction could
form. Thus, hostility toward and fear of the army provided white Tex-
ans a legitimate and politically acceptable justification for opposing all
aspects of national policy as impositions of a dangerous central au-
thority, including efforts at establishing justice and political equality
Richter's conclusions will obviously provoke controversy, countering,
as they do, revisionist scholarship of the last thirty years. Ultimately, his
arguments are not convincing, however, because they do not take into
account revisionist critiques of how the Dunning scholars used evi-
dence in their histories written at the beginning of this century.
Regarding his first point, there is no question that the military inter-
fered in civil affairs in the state, but his thesis depends on an analysis
that shows these actions to be unwarranted. There is ample evidence
for either conclusion. Army officials believed that conditions justified
their actions, to protect themselves, Unionists, and freedmen. Their
opponents, of course, condemned the army and produced evidence to
show the military was overreacting to local events. The author's solu-
tion to the dilemma posed by the evidence is to accept one account as
accurate, the other as wrong. While Richter is the first scholar to use
extensively the records of the military commands that played roles in
Texas affairs, he tends to discount the army's defense as self-serving.
He accepts uncritically, however, the accounts condemning the army
that appeared in hostile newspapers, thus resting his analysis on the
same evidence that Charles W. Ramsdell used in his 19 10 Reconstruc-
Richter's second point also depends on a ready acceptance of evi-
dence ascribing favorable motives to the opponents of Reconstruction.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 92, July 1988 - April, 1989, periodical, 1989; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101212/m1/416/: accessed July 29, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.