The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 94, July 1990 - April, 1991 Page: 38
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Southwestern IIhsto7zcal Quarterly
moved to the big farms of West Texas and the Rio Grande Valley.
Sharecroppers in East and Central Texas began to disappear after the
end of World War II when jobs in towns and cities became available and
were better paid than jobs on a small cotton farm. In addition, most
farmers now cooperate with the Texas Department of Agriculture in
fighting the pink bollworm.
In the years immediately following the Hearne discovery, however,
the prolific little pest and the fight against it angered many farmers and
might have affected several political careers. Governor William Pettus
Hobby and Texas agriculture commissioner Fred W. Davis, who were
directly concerned with the fight, were in office in 1917 and were re-
elected in 1918 but decided not to seek reelection in 1920o, a year when
the pink bollworm fight was raging. Of course both men faced other
problems during their administrations-not the least of which was
World War I-which, no doubt, forced them into taking action that was
sometimes unpopular. It is evident that Hobby knew the explosiveness
of the pink bollworm situation. In a January 1918 letter to Davis,
Hobby denied that he considered possible political repercussions in
connection with bollworm quarantines the legislature had authorized.
He explained that he delayed declaring quarantines in order to investi-
gate some complaints.2
The reason for concern over the bollworm was its threat to the plants
on which it fed. Any threat, real or imagined, to cotton during the early
years of the twentieth century agitated Texans from the lowest share-
cropper, whose bread and britches depended on cotton, to the highest
public officeholders, whose votes and salaries depended on farmers
and ranchers. This fear was evident when the boll weevil invaded the
United States from Mexico in the late 1800oos, and it was even more con-
spicuous when the pink bollworm was found in the Hearne cotton
Up until the start of World War II, cotton production absorbed the
energies of Texas farm people and their neighbors in rural towns more
than any other crop and involved more Texans than even cattle raising.
It was easier to rent or buy the few acres needed to grow cotton than it
was to acquire the acreage required for raising cattle. Also, financing
was more readily available for cotton growing than it was for cattle rais-
ing or for growing other crops. Bankers, merchants, and landlords
'Governor W P. Hobby to 'lexas agriculture commissioner Fred W. I)avis, Jan. 21, 1918,
General Coi respondeme, Governor's Records" William Pettus Hobby (Alchives Division,
Texas State Library, Austin; cited hereafter as TSL)
"Mexican Cotton-Boll Weevil," US D)epartment of Agriculture booklet, Doc 305, 1912
(National Aichives), 15
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 94, July 1990 - April, 1991, periodical, 1991; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101214/m1/62/: accessed July 23, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.