The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 106, July 2002 - April, 2003 Page: 234
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
organization that had established itself in Texas in 1873. And a meaning-
ful portion of these Grange delegates did, indeed, prove more likely than
Democrats unaffiliated with the order to vote for greater restrictions on
public spending and stricter limitations on government powers and
against a poll tax aimed at disfranchising certain voters. This doubtlessly
accounts for the perception among many contemporary observers that a
"Rutabaga" Granger bloc had manhandled the constitution-making
process. Yet the like-mindedness of some among the Grange delegates is
a point that the sometimes hysterical reporting of Texas newspapers
(most particularly the Austin Daily Democratic Statesman) and the genera-
tions of scholars that relied on such reportage clearly made entirely too
much of. For, upon closer inspection, the portrait of a bloc voting among
Grangers that allowed farm representatives to be prime movers in the pas-
sage of the constitution's most essential features requires so much quali-
fication as to render the document's status as a specifically agrarian arti-
fact dubious indeed.'
Perhaps the most commonly told tale about the 1875 proceedings
identifies Grangers as the Democrats responsible for the defeat of a re-
quirement that citizens pay a poll tax as a prerequisite for voting. J. Mor-
gan Kousser's is only the most prominent of a number of accounts that
contend, in Kousser's words, that "almost every Democrat who joined the
fourteen Republicans in opposition to the tax was a member of the
Grange." In offering this argument, Kousser cites Seth S. McKay's Making
the Texas Constitution of z876. Alwyn Barr does as well, in making the same
claim in Reconstruction to Reform: Texas Politics, 1876-190o6. Nothing better
illustrates how an old, weak link in the historiographical chain can con-
found the best efforts of fine scholars. For to support what would become
an influential argument McKay, in turn, cited nothing more than the Oc-
tober 8, 1875, edition of the Austin Daily Democratic Statesman, a paper that
gave every evidence of being decidedly overwrought on the subject of
Grange influence over the convention.'
'A contemporary document, Walsh & Pilgnm's Directory of the Officers and Members of the Constztu-
tzonal Conventzon of the State of Texas, A.D. 1875 (Austin: Democratic Statesman Office, 1875), iden-
tified thirty-seven of the seventy-six Democratic delegates as Grangers Two Democrats not listed
as Patrons in that source-F.J. Lynch and W. D. S. Cook--identified themselves as members of the
order on the floor of the convention. McKay (ed.), Debates, 190, 2o7.J. E. Ericson, "The Delegates
to the Convention of 1875: A Reappraisal," SHQ, 67 (July, 1963), 22-27, gives a figure of thirty-
eight Grangers without identifying them or assessing their influence on the convention.
6Kousser, Shaping of Southern Polztcs, 200 (quotation); Barr, Reconstructzon to Reform, 204. McK-
ay's original statement was, "The Democratic opponents to the majority report making a poll tax
qualification for suffrage came almost entirely from the Grangers." Making the Texas Constitution of
1876, 97-98. Similar claims as to the Grange role in defeating the poll tax can be found in Baum
and Calvert, "Texas Patrons of Husbandry," 49; Calvert and De Le6n, Hzstory of Texas, 148-149,
Mauer, "State Constitutions in a Time of Crisis," 1644, Lawrence D. Rice, The Negro in Texas
1874-1900 (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1971), 22-23. McKay's statement and
the credence it has been given is all the more curious considering that elsewhere in the book he
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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/m1/286/: accessed December 10, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.