The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 96, July 1992 - April, 1993 Page: 542
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
with the creation of capital, which flowered into many fine Victorian
houses and architecturally advanced public and private buildings,
emerged a harsh world of poverty and social problems. Parallel with this
was another flowering. Galveston was the only good natural port on the
Texas coast. It emerged as the only port for the export of Texas cotton.
Cartwright develops the theme that the true enemies of the gaunt and
malnourished sharecropper cotton farmers may have been in fact the
cotton brokers in Galveston, who controlled the Galveston wharves, the
Galveston banks, and the Galveston cotton exchange. For the next fifty
years these men exploited the trans-shipment of cotton to determine the
price at which Texas farmers sold their cotton. In doing so, they impov-
erished two generations of Texas farmers while building enormous per-
sonal fortunes. It now looks as though Jim Hogg and his Populists, in
running against the eastern corporations and the railroads, chose the
wrong target. (Colonel Moody, incidentally, was a principal financial
backer of William Jennings Bryan.) During this period between the Civil
War and the 90oo flood, Galveston seems to have generated less civic
spirit and less Chamber of Commerce activity than any other Texas city.
Before the flood, the city and county governments were supine and
largely ineffective. A free-booting entrepreneurial spirit prevailed, with
no governmental restraints, little in the way of ethics, and no concern at
all for the condition of the cotton farmers. What broke it up, according
to Cartwright, was not political forces like Hogg and the Populists or
anyone using the power of Texas government, but the completion of the
Houston ship channel, when Houston finally took most of the port traf-
fic away from Galveston.
In response to the 1900 flood, Galveston invented the commission
form of city government, by which each member of the City Council is
assigned a functional portion of the city government to manage and
control. Cartwright's thesis is that this effectively placed a function of
city government in the hands of the specific interest involved with that
function, which suited nicely the Galveston power structure. This new
form of city government spread all over the United States before giving
way to the city manager concept.
Cartwright's portraits of the principal characters are dramatic. Take
Colonel Moody and his son, W. L. Moody, Jr. The colonel was a pious,
educated Virginian and ex-Confederate officer, and a fierce Democrat.
Yet he was also an extremely acquisitive man. His primary patriotic loyal-
ty may have been to the Confederacy, and that was gone. Losing a war
and losing his country as a young man may have produced a disillusion-
ment with government. In any event, he became a free-standing individ-
ual committed to making and keeping money. He was religious all of his
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 96, July 1992 - April, 1993, periodical, 1993; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101215/m1/612/: accessed January 20, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.