The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 103, July 1999 - April, 2000 Page: 404
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
Part of the Texas mythology is that because of their unique historical cir-
cumstances Texans really are different. Fiercely independent and commit-
ted to combat government intrusion, Texas appears to some a place apart.
The emphasis on the rugged individualism associated with Texas may help
explain why so little was written on Texas cities until the recent past even
though the collective urban factor had been important in the history of
Texas at least since the turn of the twentieth century.4 It may also under-
score why until recently the few histories that did discuss Texas cities sug-
gested they were different than other American cities.' Even when Texas
cities did get increasing attention during the discovery of the sunbelt in the
198os, the traditional notions about the commonality of Texas cities pre-
vailed. Dallas, San Antonio, and Houston were characterized by "the poli-
tics of reaction-racism, repression, rightism, Republicanism. "6 Another
author writing about sunbelt cities generalized how they opposed liberal
spending and supported greater defense installations.'
These contemporary assessments were not unique. All three cities
have been labeled conservative especially when it comes to embracing
federal social programs. Historian David McComb has written that
"through Houston's modern civic and social history seeps a pervasive
conservatism, reflected in varying degrees in politics, public schools, and
reactions to urban problems."8 Earlier observers came to a similar con-
clusion. A 1939 Survey Graphic article characterized San Antonio as "very
conservative" and called it one of the most "individualistic cities" in
America.' In a profile of Dallas, the city's WPA Guide concluded that
"Big D" leaned "strongly in the direction of conservatism" and was
"inclined to be indifferent to new political, economic, and religious
ideas."'1 Others who have labeled these Texas cities conservative have
observed that Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio had been centers of Ku
Klux Klan activity during the 1920os, and that all three cities were segre-
gated and anti-union by the time of the Depression.l
" Char Miller and David R. Johnson, "The Rise of Urban Texas" in Urban Texas: Politics and
Development, eds. Char Miller and Heywood T. Sanders (College Station: Texas A&M University
Press, 1990), 3-10
' See for instance, Warren Leslie, Dallas Public and Private- Aspects of an American City (New
York: Grossman, 1964) and Joe R. Feagin, Free Enterprise City: Houston in Politzcal-Economic
Perspective (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1988).
6 Carl Abbott, The New Urban America: Growth and Politics zn Sunbelt Cztzes (rev ed.; Chapel Hill:
University of North Carolina Press, 1987), 7.
r Richard M. Bernard and Bradley R. Rice, "Introduction," in Sunbelt Citzes- Polihtcs and Growth
Since World War II, eds. Richard M. Bernard and Bradley R. Rice (Austin: University of Texas
Press, 1983), 20o.
8 David G. McComb, Houston. A History (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1981), 145.
' Audrey Granneberg, "Maury Maverick's San Antonio," Survey Graphic, 28 (July, 1939),
10 Works Progress Administration, The WPA Dallas Guide and Hstory (Denton: University of
North Texas Press, 1992), 9-10o.
" Charles C. Alexander, The Ku Klux Klan in the Southwest (Lexington- University Press of
Kentucky, 1965), 28.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 103, July 1999 - April, 2000, periodical, 2000; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101220/m1/460/: accessed November 21, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.