The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 106, July 2002 - April, 2003 Page: 399
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The Governor and the Bat
"routine violence and suffering can be tolerated on condition that it is
discreet, disguised, or somehow removed from view." He writes that
"cultural struggle, expos journalism, and moral criticism-the tradi-
tional tools of the penal reformer-do have some measure of effective-
ness in bringing about penal change." In the instance of Texas, where
journalists, legislators, and gubernatorial candidates emphasized the
horrific nature of physical punishments, the Garland-Elias thesis
As elsewhere in the United States during the Progressive era of the
early twentieth century, "muckraking" writers informed the public about
social and economic problems, political corruption, and governmental
inefficiency. The "literature of exposure" attempted to educate citizens
as well as to promote reforms. According to a leading historian of the
South, certain newspapers from that region believed that "economic
development, the introduction of modern institutions and services, and
a new enlightenment spread by socially conscious men and women
would eventually bring a glad new day to the South."6
Prison reform attracted more than passing attention in Texas when
George Waverly Briggs, a young college graduate, authored a series of
articles that appeared in the San Antonio Express during December 1908
and January 1909. An investigation that occurred in the latter year along
with additional stories by Briggs and Tom Finty Jr., who wrote for both
the Dallas News and the Galveston News, placed prison conditions within
public view. When the legislature enacted the prison reform bill of
191o, lawmakers passed a resolution praising Briggs for his influence.
* On the subject of sensibilities see David Garland, Punishment and Modern Soczety" A Study zn
Social Theory, (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1990), 241-246, 247 (quotation); Norbert
Elias, The Czvslzzng Process, I The History of Manners (1939; reprint, New York: The Urizen Books,
1978), 41-217. Garland's and Elias's theory of sensibilities differs from the postmodern power
theories posited by Michel Foucault, who viewed the rise of humane, less physically austere pun-
ishments as deliberate attempts by the state to achieve more complete control over individual
subjects through various social-psychological disciplinary means. That is not to say, however, that
Texas writers and pubhc figures may not have borrowed from international penal theories that
reflected the influences Foucault considered. Whereas Foucault stressed sinister designs behind
the development of humane punishments, Garland, drawing upon Elias, argues that over time,
mdividuals genuinely come to regard formerly acceptable behavior as offensive. See Foucault,
Dzsczplzne and Punish. The Birth of the Prison, trans. Alan Sheridan (New York: Vintage Books,
6 Although most scholars usually associate the muckrakers with the "exposure" magazines that
appeared around the turn of the century, the character of the journalism expressed by Briggs,
Finty, and Putnam closely resembles that of the better-known writers who focused upon the ills
and problems of an increasingly mdustrial and urban modern society. Like those investigative
reporters, the Texas writers hoped to reform the evils around them. Ellen Fitzpatrick (ed.),
Muckrakng: Three Landmark Articles (Boston: Bedford Books of St. Martin's Press, 1994), 1-3;
Louis Filler, The Muckrakers (2d ed.; Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1993), 110-126; David
Mark Chalmers, The Social and Political Ideas of the Muckrakers (New York: The Citadel Press,
1964), 7-20; Harvey Swados, Years of Consczence- The Muckrakers (New York: World Publishing,
1971), 9-22, 323-365. Dewey Grantham notes that "every state in the region had at least one or
two important newspapers dedicated to the practice of reform journalism"; see Grantham,
Southern Progressivism, 25-35 (quotation on 32).
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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/m1/467/: accessed April 21, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.