The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 105, July 2001 - April, 2002 Page: 373
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RobertJ. Robertson's Her Majesty's Texans is a close examination of the lives of
Robert H. Leonard, John W. Leonard, Will Johnson, Hannah Leonard Lamb,
and Tom Lamb, who were members of an English family that settled in Beau-
mont, Texas, between 1855 and 1875. Using thirty-five personal letters, numer-
ous court documents, newspaper accounts, and a variety of secondary sources,
the author reconstructs the experiences of these English immmigrants, giving
special attention to the life histories of John Leonard and Will Johnson.
Despite the limited focus of his book, Robertson makes two important contri-
butions to the field of Texas history. First the author reminds his readers that
English settlers, despite the relative ease with which they assimilated into Ameri-
can society, were still foreigners in a strange land. Like those arriving from other
countries, the British emigrants often found it difficult to adapt to American cul-
ture. Nevertheless, the Anglo newcomers generally viewed Texas as a land of un-
limited economic opportunities. "Capitalizing on their Victorian education and
their command of the English language, they first found work as teachers and
later carved out other white collar careers as journalists, attorneys, and publish-
ers" (p. 4). Additionally, Robertson points out that British settlers were able to
impress upon their local communities certain elements of their own culture,
such as the English style of education, the Victorian love of books and newspa-
pers, and the Anglican religious faith.
Second, Robertson provides a glimpse into how English immigrants viewed
the political and social conditions associated with Reconstruction in Texas.
Above all, the immigrants in this study were quick to join the cause of the state's
redeemers. "Like the majority of white Texans, they opposed the Republican Re-
construction programs imposed by Congress ... and they resented the Republi-
can government in Austin. In addition, they looked forward to coming elections
when they hoped to rebuild the Democratic Party, oust the Republicans, and re-
gain control of their state" (p. 43). In this respect, the immigrants, who were try-
ing to forge a place for themselves in society, simply adhered to the political
trends of their community. Robertson also reveals that the immigrants quickly
accepted the prejudiced views of their fellow Texans regarding the status of for-
mer slaves. According to the author, Will Johnson "considered himself 'white'
and longed to be 'a true Southern white man"' (p. 44). Johnson's statement, as
well as the group's willingness to adopt the popular opinions of their new com-
munity, placed the immigrants squarely in the camp of conservative Democrats.
Influenced by Charlotte Erickson's Invisible Immigrants: The Adaptation of En-
glish and Scottish Immigrants in Nineteenth-Century America (University of Miami
Press, 1972) and Thomas Cutrer's The English Texans (Institute of Texan Cul-
tures, 1985), Robertson has made a laudable effort in retelling the story of five
English immigrants. The only flaw in Her Majesty's Texans is that it does not re-
veal whether or not the experiences of the Leonard-Johnson-Lamb clan were
typical of other British immigrants living in Texas between 1869 and 1875. Nev-
ertheless, despite this oversight, scholars will find this study a useful guide for
defining and understanding the typical British experience in the Lone Star State
during the Reconstruction era.
College Statzon, Texas
Kenneth Wayne Howell
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 105, July 2001 - April, 2002, periodical, 2001; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101222/m1/403/: accessed November 23, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.