The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 106, July 2002 - April, 2003 Page: 239
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Of Rutabagas and Redeemers
the sort that Dale Baum and Robert Calvert found filled Grange ranks but
also E. S. C. Robertson, the blue-blooded scion of one of Texas's first fam-
ilies, and John Reagan, the prominent lawyer-politician who voted against
the putative Grange position all up and down the line (despite his subse-
quent reputation as an agrarian leaders"). One might suspect that such
men's Grange affiliation was a convenient but hardly heartfelt nod toward
a group popular among their Democratic constituents, rather than rep-
resenting a specific commitment to furthering the interests of the rank
and file. If that was indeed the case, the absence of unanimity would hard-
ly mean that there was not a smaller group among affiliated delegates, the
true Grangers, who did vote as a bloc. Yet if one studies the roll-call votes
on matters often assumed to be of greatest interest to the Grange-state
spending, taxation, railroad regulation, education, suffrage-one finds
that considerably less than half the Patron delegates consistently support-
ed the agrarian position traditionally associated with the order as a whole.
These ten to fourteen Grangers may well have represented a bloc, but in
a ninety-man body they would have been far more likely to operate as
swing votes in matters on which delegates were closely divided than to
reign over the convention, sweeping all before them and having their way
with the constitution. Making the notion of a Grange-made constitution
all the more problematic is the fact that when it came to a number of is-
sues upon which these "core" Grangers made common cause-banning
railroad land grants, doing away with tax-supported education, further re-
stricting the state's ability to contract debt, eliminating occupation tax-
es-they did not carry the day but, in fact, lost.14
These defeats, in turn, illuminate another vital point-that in a num-
ber of essential matters the convention chose the more generous or lib-
" C. Vann Woodward, Ongzins of the New South, 1877-z9z3 (Baton Rouge. Louisiana State Uni-
versity Press, 1951), 21, 204. Reagan earned this reputation by his subsequent work in support of
federal and state railroad regulation, but those efforts might be taken as a token of the consider-
able backing that regulation enjoyed beyond the ranks of farmers rather than of Reagan's agrari-
an allegiances As a matter of fact, through the first half of the 1 87os and even at the constitutional
convention, Reagan was identified by a number of fellow Democrats as a particular friend of rail-
roads and even "the special apologist of corporations." D. M. Short to Oran M. Roberts, July 29,
1873, Oran Roberts Papers (Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin; cited
hereafter as CAH); Galveston Daily News, Dec. 21, 1886,Jan. 2, 1887, Austin Daily Democratic States-
man, Aug. lo, 1875, McKay (ed.), Debates, 318, 321 (quotation), 344-345. The best analysis of the
Grange constituency is to be found m Baum and Calvert, "Texas Patrons of Husbandry," 38-49.
"' I tabulated fourteen roll-call votes, including one on a poll tax restriction on the franchise,
one banning grants of pubhc land to railroads, two on educational taxation, one on estabhshmg a
state-funded immigration bureau, one involving judicial gerrymandering in the interest of black-
belt Democrats, two on official salaries, two on hmiting the state debt, one estabhshmg a two-year
rather than four-year gubernatorial term, one on usury laws, and two on taxation Ten Grangers
voted for the putative agrarian position in ten or more of these votes. Eight more voted thusly on
nine of fourteen votes, but four of these broke with the others to support the poll tax, the issue of-
ten taken to most distinguish Grange from non-Grange Democrats. Journal of the Constitutional
Convention, 226-227, 286-287, 297, 308-309, 325, 330-333, 402-403, 466-467, 624, 642,
653-654, 687, 726.
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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/m1/291/: accessed August 19, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.