The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 106, July 2002 - April, 2003 Page: 411
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The Governor and the Bat
explained that the legislature had approved the road's extension and that
Colquitt's officers had authorized whippings on that line during the lat-
ter's administration, Ramsey dignified the governor's stature and weak-
ened his own by repeating his opponent's inflammatory rhetoric.'6
Ramsey's unimpressive public speaking performance helped Colquitt
defeat Ramsey by a comfortable 219,808 to 179,857 votes. Despite the
enmity of "dry" forces who won other important statewide races,
Colquitt prevailed, notwithstanding a unity within the prohibitionist
camp that had not existed in 1910. Historians largely attribute his victo-
ry to a respect for the two-term gubernatorial tradition by Texas voters,
although as one contemporary observer remarked: "Judge R. was too
much of an icicle, and the result was a frost." A Williamson County resi-
dent wrote: "Ramsey would have done well for himself in this county had
he stayed out of it when he ran for governor." Ramsey, who was in reality
only a lukewarm "dry," might have garnered more votes if he had
stressed the prohibition issue more aggressively.27
Prison-related issues assisted the incumbent more than his challenger
because such matters allowed Colquitt to entertain audiences with bat-
waving speeches against whipping. Due at least partly to electoral politics,
Colquitt denounced corporal punishment and suspended the bat. That
both gubernatorial candidates as well as the state's leading newspapers
called for an end to lashing attests to new sensibilities and an aroused
consciousness among many Texans. Although the legislature had decid-
ed not to abolish the bat in 1910, despite a lengthy discussion concern-
ing the issue, two years later the states' gubernatorial candidates not only
called for an end to the practice but each berated the other for condon-
ing and encouraging brutal activities among prison employees. A majori-
ty of Colquitt's appointees to the Board of Prison Commissioners and
probably most employees favored retaining the bat. Certainly Chairman
Cabell, however, believed that order and labor productivity might be
maintained without resorting to that genre of corporal punishment.28
Other political speakers, such as Judge Barry Miller of Dallas, also
praised Colquitt for suspending the bat "in the name of the manhood of
21, "Speech of Judge W F Ramsey at Taylor, Texas on June 20, 1912," box 2E 177, Colquitt
Papers (quotation); Broadside: '"Judge Ramsey Points to the Facts and Shows Up Colquitt's Real
Pemtentiary Record," TXC-D, Colquitt Papers
27 Huckaby, "Oscar Branch Colquitt," 319-320o, Gould, Progressives and Prohzbztzonzsts, 91 (1st
quotation); and James A. Tinsley, "The Progressive Movement in Texas" (Ph.D. diss., University
of Wisconsmin, 1953), 292-294 (2nd quotation).
28 Houston Chronzcle, Mar 8, 15, 17, 18, 1912; and Tom E FmntyJr., "Problems of the Texas
Prison System," Delinquent, 4 (Jan., 1914), 6-10o. George Waverly Briggs reported the various
arguments for and against whipping in debates among legislators considering the 191o prison
reform bill. See San Antonzo Express, Sept. 3, 1910. Cabell wrote Colquitt: "I think any lack of dis-
cipline is chargeable to a lack of interest of those in control, or their opposition to this [the bat's
suspension] ruhng"; see Cabell to Colquitt, June 8, 1913, Colquitt Governor's Records.
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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/m1/479/: accessed May 22, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.