The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 106, July 2002 - April, 2003 Page: 252
The following text was automatically extracted from the image on this page using optical character recognition software:
Southwestern Historical Quarterly
like-minded group. Instead, both those supporting state promotion of
private development but not investment in public services and those sup-
porting state activism in both realms combined to perpetuate the policy.
Members of the first group, on the other hand, voted against those of the
second, and with those seeking governmental retrenchment across the
board, in support of parsimony in the realm of public education. In short,
the constitution of 1876 was forged by delegates combining and dividing
in different ways on different issues.
The spectacle of this ad hoc coalition-building may be of interest not
only to students of Texas history but also to those who study the politics of
the postbellum South. One must, of course, be cautious in generalizing
from Texas's experience. The state, like other erstwhile members of the
Confederacy, was working through the political, economic, and social
consequences of the emancipation of its black population and devoting
an increasing portion of its energies to the commercial cultivation of cot-
ton, but at the same time was considerably more complex in its social and
political geography than most southern states. Texas's many frontier as-
pects inevitably skewed its development: its tremendous demographic
growth (which saw white Texans outnumbering African Americans by in-
creasingly large proportions), its vast store of public lands that for a time
appeared to allow Democrats to reconcile the imperatives of retrench-
ment and development, its ethnic diversity and borderlands heritage that
was in many respects more western than southern.32
Still, the multiple orientations and shifting coalitions on display at the
constitutional convention might certainly lend support to recent charac-
terizations of postbellum Democratic parties in the southern states as
sprawling, rather amorphous, and intricately divided bodies rather than
modular structures built from a few familiar, even interchangeable, fac-
tional components, such as Whiggish friends of business and industry,
planters, or Bourbons." At very least, the example of Texas should warn
historians that if they are to persist in employing such categories as "New
South" Democrats, they must avoid papering over the often profound dif-
ferences between those supporting state activism in the service both of
economic development and social welfare and those devoted to econom-
ic promotion exclusively and hostile toward spending on public services
a The intersection of south, west, and borderland is a central concern of Neil Foley, The Whate
Scourge- Mexicans, Blacks, and Poor Whites zn Texas Cotton Culture (Berkeley. University of California
" In the case of Texas, Alwyn Barr notes the Democratic Party's "unwieldy bulk and diversity."
Barr, Reconstructzon to Reform, 22. On Southern Democrats more generally, see Edward Ayers, The
Promise of the New South: Life after Reconstruction (New York: Oxford University Press, 1992), 35, 50.
Significantly, while continuing m The Road to Redemption to analyze the southern Democracy of the
Redemption era in terms of its agrarian-Bourbon and New South wings, Michael Perman ul-
timately concludes the party was "volatile and discordant," and "an expanding, diverse, and
Here’s what’s next.
This issue can be searched. Note: Results may vary based on the legibility of text within the document.
Citing and Sharing
Basic information for referencing this web page. We also provide extended guidance on usage rights, references, copying or embedding.
Reference the current page of this Periodical.
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 106, July 2002 - April, 2003, periodical, 2003; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101223/m1/304/: accessed June 26, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.