The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 106, July 2002 - April, 2003 Page: 236
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
This broad support within the convention for corporate regulation is
hardly surprising, for by this time regulation was not a cause advocated by
farmers alone. It had also been embraced by many in the business com-
munity. Such reliable spokesmen for the commercial elite as the Galve-
ston Cotton Exchange and the Galveston Daily News had, for example,
called for railroad regulation well before the 1875 convention. As much
as they welcomed accelerated commercial development, many Texas en-
trepreneurs were determined that its benefits accrue to an indigenous
business class and not simply to corporations dominated by out-of-state
capital (as was the case with most Texas railroads). As a consequence,
merchants across the state howled whenever it seemed to them that rail-
roads were directing business away from their communities through ex-
tortionate or discriminatory rates. Furthermore, key regulatory features
of the constitution-the reservation to the state of authority to set maxi-
mum rates and prevent discrimination, the prohibition of railroads' con-
solidating with parallel or competing lines-did not originate with the
supposedly Grange-dominated 1875 convention but instead had been
fully anticipated in statutes passed well before the Patrons of Husbandry
became a force in Texas politics. The Texas legislature had enacted a gen-
eral law regulating railroads as early as 1853, and by 1873 lawmakers were
routinely incorporating provisions into individual company charters reaf-
firming the right of the state to regulate rates, prohibiting roads from
consolidating with parallel or competing lines, and requiring that lines
surveyed within five miles of a county seat run through it.'
Similarly, the constitution's ban on the state granting money subsidies
to private companies to promote railroad construction was neither a
specifically agrarian measure nor without ample precedent in Texas poli-
tics. Amidst the enormous controversy generated by the subsidies that
both Republicans and Democrats in the Reconstruction legislature had
voted to the Texas and Pacific and the International railways, both parties
had as early as 1872 formally forsworn such promises of money or bonds.
Democratic newspapers notably enthusiastic about economic develop-
ment, and prominent politicians personally interested in (and closely
identified in the public mind with) railroads, such as congressman and
" Galveston Daily News, Jan 23,June 4, Nov. 8, Dec 25, 1873, Feb. 25, Apr. 16, 1874; Laws of the
Fourth Legslature of the State of Texas. Extra Sesszon, vol. IV (Austin: J. W. Hampton, 1853), 55-61;
Journal of the House of Representatves of the State of Texas: Being the Session of the Thirteenth Legslature Be-
gun and Held at the City of Austin, January 14, 1873 (Austin: John Cardwell, State Printer, 1873),
502-503, 820-823, 889-893, 898, 969-970, 1007-1010, 1021-1024, 1178-1180, 1201,
1244-1245. For the constitutional convention's provisions with respect to railroads, see Constitu-
tion of the State of Texas Adopted by the Constitutional Convention Begun and Held at the Czty of Austin on
the Sixth Day of September, 1875 (Austin: Institution for the Deaf and Dumb, 1877), Art. X (this is a
reference to the constitution as made by the convention and not to the modern, much-amended
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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/m1/288/: accessed October 21, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.