The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 84, July 1980 - April, 1981 Page: 292
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
of factors contributed to Wells's political demise, the key element was
his inability to cope with the transformation of the Valley electorate.27
Despite the collapse of the Wells organization in 192o, boss rule dis-
played remarkable resilience in South Texas as a whole. Corruption
and the manipulation of the Mexican vote continued in Hidalgo
County through the 192os. The notorious Parr machine dominated
Duval County until 1975, while boss politics still survives in Starr
County. The longevity of these practices tainted Texas politics in gen-
eral, since most state administrations tolerated or even cooperated with
the politicos of the Trans-Nueces. Only infrequently did state officials
launch legal offensives against South Texas graft. The persistence of
machine rule had one other important effect on statewide affairs. The
association of Mexican-Americans with widespread corruption rein-
forced the ethnic prejudices of the Anglo voters of the state. At the turn
of the century, white evangelical Protestant farmers formed the over-
whelming majority of the electorate, and they accepted the popular
stereotype of the indolent, subservient Mexican peon. Without under-
standing the relationship that had developed between the bosses and
their Mexican constituents, reform-minded spokesmen cited the ma-
nipulation of the South Texas vote as evidence that Mexican-
Americans were unfit to participate in the political process. All too
often the proposals for election reform during the Progressive Era were
aimed at eliminating the Mexican as well as the black vote. This legacy
of prejudice has been as enduring as South Texas corruption itself.28
27For a full discussion of the economic development of the Valley and its political reper-
cussions, see Anders, "Bosses under Siege," 390-468; for the tension along the border
during the Mexican Revolution, ibid., 581-649; for Wells's involvement in the 1918 state
senate race and the reorganization of the Rangers, ibid., 650-781; for the collapse of the
machine in 1920o, ibid., 732-748.
2SKay Northcott, "A Death in Duval," The Texas Observer, LXVII (Apr. 25, 1975), 1,
3-7; Dallas Morning News, Aug. 18-25, 1974; Houston Post, Aug. 25, 1963, Dec. 20, 1970;
E. F. Smith, A Saga of Texas Law: A Factual Story of Texas Law, Lawyers, Judges and
Famous Lawsuits (San Antonio, 1940), 329-352; Owen P. White, "High-Handed and Hell-
Bent," Collier's: The National Weekly, LXXXIII (June 22, 1929), 8-9, 47-48; Lewis L.
Gould, Progressives and Prohibitionists: Texas Democrials in the Wilson Era (Austin, 1973),
29-34, 46-47. For a full discussion of the involvement of the South Texas machines in
state politics, see Anders, "Bosses under Siege," 164-271, 650-731.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 84, July 1980 - April, 1981, periodical, 1980/1981; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101225/m1/340/: accessed November 19, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.