The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 106, July 2002 - April, 2003 Page: 241
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Of Rutabagas and Redeemers
provisions seemed to some contemporaries and very many subsequent
observers, they were the products of a revolt within the convention
against greater extremes of parsimony. A minority report of the education
committee entirely rejected the use of tax revenue for schools, and the
same committee's majority report reserved no more than one-tenth of the
state's annual revenue for education plus whatever capitation tax the leg-
islature might feel compelled to levy (the Reconstruction-era constitu-
tion, by contrast, had reserved one-fourth of state revenue plus the pro-
ceeds of a one-dollar capitation tax). In the face of such alternatives, a
slim majority of Democrats joined with a small but solid Republican bloc
to force reconsideration of the issue by an entirely new and decidedly
more generous committee. It was this select committee of seven that pro-
duced what became, with some amendments, the constitution's educa-
tion article. It increased the proportion of general revenue to be allotted
to education from one-tenth to a maximum of one-fourth while mandat-
ing a two-dollar head tax for the support of schools. This regressive tax
may have been insufficient to the state's needs (especially in light of the
elimination of most local school taxes), but the choice being made was
between an inadequate state tax and no school tax at all. In the matter of
the state debt, too, as low as the $200,000 ceiling may have been, it was
imposed chiefly over the objections of those who supported an even low-
er ceiling, those who did not want the state to be given any power to bor-
row to supply deficiencies in revenue, and those who even opposed the
leeway given the state to contract debt in the course of defending itself
from invasion or insurrection.'
None of this means to suggest that the Texas constitution was other
than miserly, indeed, as regards the powers of state. Certainly, those with
the most expansive notions of governmental responsibility suffered hard
defeats at the convention, such as in the prohibition of state promotion of
immigration into Texas. The constitution was, accordingly, widely criti-
cized in the press. But its parsimony should not be taken as evidence of
the power of the most agrarian or least liberal faction of the Democratic
Party. It instead illustrates how limited the choices were that Democrats of
any stripe could entertain in the 1870s. While Democratic delegates at
the constitutional convention did not inevitably choose the most penuri-
ous alternative, they had no alternative but to be penurious. Before 1874,
607-608, 633-634, 684-685, 695-696, 716-721, 725, 735-739, 751, 768-770; McKay (ed.), De-
bates, 419-421, 436-440, 442-445, 448-450; Speech of Hon. A W. Terrell, Senator from 25th Senaton-
alDzstnct, Delivered zn the SenateJuly z9, 1876 (n.p., n.d.), 31-35; Winkler (ed.), Platforms ofPolztscal
Partzes an Texas, 181, I88, 20o7.
"Journal of the Constztutzonal Conventzon, 164, 225-227, 243-247, 325, 328-330, 336-337, 339,
388-389, 391, 395-401, 511-514, 516-521, 523, 6o8-611, 615-616; McKay (ed.), Debates,
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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/m1/293/: accessed June 22, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.