The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 38, July 1934 - April, 1935 Page: 2
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
in April, 1883, providing for the competitive leasing of the
alternate school sections at not less than four cents an acre. The
State Land Board, set up by this act for its administration, was
composed of the governor, attorney general, comptroller, treas.
urer, and commissioner of the general land office.
Whether owned in fee or still a part of the public domain,
each range was held by the cowmen on terms of mutual good-
will and understanding with one another. Infringement upon
another's range was tantamount to war and was rarely practiced.
Hence when the Land Board advertised for bids, no one tried
to lease the home from under his neighbor, but merely filed
application for his established range at the minimum prescribed
"Discovering" that the code of the range-common decency-
nullified the competitive provisions of the act, the Board refused
the cowmen's tender of four cents, and arbitrarily resolved-the
law to the contrary, notwithstanding-that it would lease no
more land for less than eight cents an acre. The spectacle of a
board revising the provisions of the act it was created to admin-
ister might have been an amusing bit of Western humor except
for the consequences.
The western country rose in arms, while range security jostled
in political laps. The ensuing fight, shot through with political
ambition, igorance and prejudice, waxed high and hot in the
local forum, in the press and at the capitol. The cowmen car-
ried the battle to the courts, and though appeals were dallied
while political fortunes were at stake, the Board was finally
whipped into compliance with the law. The entire battle cen-
tered on Charles Goodnight, veteran plainsman, first settler in
the Panhandle, and one of the state's largest cowmen.
The fight was long and bitter, but the situation may be briefly
summarized. In 1880 conservative plainsmen had aligned them-
selves in favor of leasing, had lobbied for a law to that end, and
had complied with its provisions. The Land Board, refusing to
accept the minimum bids, had doubled the rate of lease, and
many ranchmen, already caught on the verge of another depres-
sion by the backwash of the boom, and struggling under high
interest levies and tremendous outlays for fencing, saw they
could not pay. Some did not bid at all, but most of those of
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 38, July 1934 - April, 1935, periodical, 1935; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117143/m1/10/: accessed August 17, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.