The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 106, July 2002 - April, 2003 Page: 233
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Of Rutabagas and Redeemers
some of the most talented students of Texas history, demonstrating the
dangers that even the best scholars face in having to rely on a flawed
monographic literature when it comes to matters that are not the primary
subject of their research.
The agrarian myth has also insinuated itself into some of the broader
accounts of postbellum southern politics that communicate the experi-
ence of the state to many non-Texans and nonspecialists in Texas history.
These include such landmark studies as Michael Perman's The Road to Re-
demption: Southern Politics, 1869-1879, which sees in the 1875 convention
the "rout" of business-minded "New South" Texans by agrarian Democ-
rats, and J. Morgan Kousser's very influential The Shaping of Southern Poli-
tics: Suffrage Restriction and the Establishment of the One-Party South,
1880-Igro, which assigns to Grangers the credit (at least among Democ-
rats) for defeating a poll tax limitation on the franchise in Texas. If the re-
ceived wisdom as to the Constitution of 1876 has infected a broader re-
gional scholarship, challenging the agrarian myth might, by the same
measure, not only help clarify certain important episodes and develop-
ments in Texas history but also help sharpen the political taxonomy of the
postbellum South. The example of Texas's Redeemer convention should
caution historians against assigning a single label, such as "agrarian," to
diverging, even conflicting, tendencies and warn them away from reduc-
ing the struggles among Democrats to simple factionalism between a
handful of cohesive interest groups when something more complex was
almost certainly taking place.4
Like many myths, the myth of an agrarian constitution was not fash-
ioned from whole cloth. It was a well-publicized fact that fully half the
members of the Democratic delegation to the constitutional conven-
tion-in other words, well over 40 percent of that overwhelmingly De-
mocratic body-belonged to the Patrons of Husbandry, the national farm
'Richard Hofstadter, TheAge ofReform: From Bryan toFDR (NewYork: Knopf, 1955), 23-59; Ran-
dolph Campbell, "Carpetbagger Rule m Reconstruction Texas An Enduring Myth," SHQ 97
(Apr., 1994), 587-596, Robert Calvert and Arnoldo De Le6n, The Hzstory of Texas (2nd ed.; Wheel-
ing, Ill : Harlan Davidson, 1996), 163-164; Rupert Richardson, Texas- The Lone Star State (2nd ed,
Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1958), 221, 223; Wilbourn E. Benton, Texas. Its Government
andPolihtcs (2nd ed.; Englewood Cliffs, NJ, Prentice-Hall, 1966), 39-44; Kenneth R. Mladenka and
Kim Qualle Hill, Texas Government: Politics and Economics (Monterey, Calif.: Brooks/ Cole Pubhsh-
ing Co., 1986), 92-93, Alwyn Barr, Reconstruction to Reform: Texas Polihtcs, I876-19o6 (Austin: Uni-
versity of Texas Press, 1971), 25, 113, 204. The article on the Constitution of 1876 in The New
Handbook of Texas states that, "In the convention the Grange members acted as a bloc in support
of conservative constitutional measures." Joe E. Ericson and Ernest Wallace, "Constitution of
1876," in Ron Tyler, et al. (eds.), The New Handbook of Texas (6 vols.; Austin: Texas State Historical
Association, 1996), II, 289. See also, John W. Mauer, "Constitution Proposed m 1874," ibid., II,
291; Ralph A. Smith, "Grange," ibid., III, 279.
'Michael Perman, The Road to Redemption Southern Polihtcs, 1869-1879 (Chapel Hill: University
of North Carolina Press, 1984), 191, o203-204, 205 (quotations), J. Morgan Kousser, The Shaping
of Southern Politzcs- Suffrage Restrctzon and the Establhshment of the One-Party South, 188o-19go (New
Haven. Yale University Press, 1974), 200.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 106, July 2002 - April, 2003, periodical, 2003; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101223/m1/285/: accessed May 27, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.