The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 92, July 1988 - April, 1989 Page: 394
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
board, scarcely suited individualistic Texans."2 Both Nunn and Eby saw
the failure of the schools as the result of a Republican effort to impose
on the state a set of institutions that were in some way foreign to the
white Texan mind. This emphasis upon the alien nature of Republican
Reconstruction programs fits within the historiographical intrepreta-
tion known as the Dunning school.
Revisionist work on Reconstruction history has deemphasized eco-
nomic and ideological opposition to Republican programs, and put
greater stress on the importance of racism-the opposition by whites to
black participation in these programs. Like the Dunningites, however,
revisionist work implies that Republican ideas were so foreign to white
southerners that the party's schools and other creations could never
have survived in the forms in which they were implemented. Unfortu-
nately, revisionism has not produced any detailed examinations of Re-
publican institutions, such as the public school systems, to test this
This study reexamines the public school system created in Texas in
1871 and attempts to explain why it was dismantled. Its conclusion is
that the destruction of the Republican schools did not take place be-
cause they represented a set of different, radical, and challenging new
ideas, as suggested by both Dunningites and revisionists. Further, there
was no corruption that inherently generated widespread opposition.
Instead the system was taken apart as a result of Democratic efforts to
discredit their political opponents and regain power. Democratic lead-
ers were able to link the concept of a central school system to the idea of
political corruption and waste, leading voters to conclude that eliminat-
ing the Republican system was a worthwhile goal. This provided a com-
mon ground upon which a variety of groups naturally hostile to and
2W. C. Nunn, Texas under the Carpetbaggers (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1962),
241-242, 243 (quotation)
3For a discussion of Reconstruction historiography see the following: Richard O. Curry,
"The Civil War and Reconstruction, 1861-1877: A Critical Overview of Recent Trends and
Interpretations," Czvil War History, XX (Sept, 1974), 215-238; Herman Belz, "The New Or-
thodoxy in Reconstruction Historiography," Reviews in American History, I (Mar., 1973),
io6-113; and Bernard A. Weisberger, "The Dark and Bloody Ground of Reconstruction His-
toriography," Journal of Southern Hzstory, XXV (Nov., 1959), 427-447
4 For examples of revisionist treatments of schools within general Reconstruction studies see
Vernon Lane Wharton, The Negro in Misszsspps, 1865-189o (Chapel Hill: University of North
Carolina Press, 1947), 244-247; Horace Mann Bond, Negro Education in Alabama. A Study in
Cotton and Steel (1939; reprint, New York: Atheneum, 1969), 115-119; John Hope Franklin,
Reconstruction: After the Czvil War (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1961), 140- I41; Allen
W. Trelease, Reconstruction. The Great Experiment (New York: Harper & Row, 1971), 135-137;
Wilham C. Harris, The Day of the Carpetbagger: Republican Reconstructzon in Mississippi (Baton
Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1979), 311-352; Roger L. Ransom and Richard
Sutch, One Kind of Freedom: The Economic Consequences of Emanczpation (Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press, 1977), 26.
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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/m1/448/: accessed May 29, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.