The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 106, July 2002 - April, 2003 Page: 251
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Of Rutabagas and Redeemers
of the growth equation. At the convention, Democrats like Charles De-
Morse, J. F. Johnson, and Joseph Haynes voted against corporate land
grants but for more liberal funding of education, defining a stance not
unlike those of some earlier Reconstruction Republicans and later third-
party dissidents. While they did not necessarily oppose economic mod-
ernization in the form of railroad building, they voted as if they believed
that government's chief responsibility was not to aid private interests in
developing their enterprises but instead to tend to things that private in-
terests could not or would not accomplish on their own, such as educat-
ing the state's children or defending its frontier. This attitude might co-
exist with a suspicion of corporate intentions, as is suggested by
DeMorse's reputation as an anti-monopoly man." The same suspicion of
business interests could be found amongst a fourth group, who placed far
more things beyond the scope of legitimate governmental action. Many
Texans-represented perhaps most forcefully at the convention by
Jonathan Russell of Wood County-seemed to feel that the populace
would be better served the less it was burdened by government. Accord-
ingly, they opposed public support for railroad development or the pro-
motion of immigration but (unlike DeMorse, Haynes, or later Green-
backers) also opposed any very extensive expenditure on social welfare,
including funding schools.
These fundamental orientations clearly emerge only in retrospect
rather than being a recognized basis of allegiance at the time of the con-
vention. Contemporaries, even delegates (as the example of "Rutabaga"
Johnson shows), tended, like historians, to try to discern bipartite fac-
tionalism-one side having it out with the other-amidst all the compli-
cated goings-on. Yet if these ideological affinities were often unstated and
even unrecognized, identifying them seems nevertheless to shed more
light on the shaping of the constitution than more familiar models of sin-
gle pairs of contending interest groups-whether Rutabagas vs. lawyers,
agrarian vs. New South Democrats, rank and file vs. leadership elite, or re-
strictive vs. liberal constitution-makers-one of which prevailed and the
other of which was routed. Close examination of the proceedings shows,
for instance, that support for railroad land grants came not from a single
" Journal of the Constitutional Convention, 332, 624; McKay (ed.), Debates, 341-348. At least pub-
licly, Reconstruction governor EdmundJ. Davis had seemed to embody this view in lavishing mon-
ey on education and law enforcement while vetoing money subsidies to railroads. Moneyhon, Re-
publicanzsm in Reconstruction Texas, 129-167; Brockman, "Railroads, Radicals, and Democrats,"
140. In their platforms, Texas Greenbackers called for an improved school system and frontier de-
fense, while decrying corporate land grants and insisting on the reservation of pubhc land for set-
tlers only Winkler (ed.), Platforms of Politcal Parties in Texas, 18o-181, 187-190, 198-201 De-
Morse voted to ban railroad land grants at the convention. However, he did prove wilhng to
support them if used exclusively to promote construction into the southern and western portions
of the state theretofore not benefitted by state subsidies. McKay (ed.), Debates, 401-402; Galveston
Daily News, Aug. 7, 1875.
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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/m1/303/: accessed June 25, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.