The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 38, July 1934 - April, 1935 Page: 21
Grass Lease Fight and Attempled Impeachment
out and either uphold or bemean Willis. . .. Willis is prose-
cuted, not by law but by prejudice that exists against Panhandle
cattlemen, brought about by Templeton or the State . .
[which] ought to have confined itself to the law and not have
gone to bulldozing and creating prejudice. . . . Mr. Browning
signed a vindication of Willis, and he dare not and cannot come
out and say anything that will not favor him. . . . Give jus-
tice, is all we ask.3
Before the Senate I-Iogg argued that the facts showed "willful
corruption," and asked for Willis' removal. Willis plead his own
case, and even the Galveston News admitted "his legal argument
was very ingenious and forcible." Houston, who had at last been
touched, stressed the fact "that the judge had no appeal" from
their decision, and urged "the necessity therefore for a calm and
impartial verdict." On the second of April a vote of twenty-two
to five for acquittal followed, and Judge Willis and the remaining
cowmen happily left for the dry, sunny ranges of the Panhandle.35
The prejudice aroused and the ill-feeling engendered died out
only after many years, but the State was whipped on every score.
A House bill introduced "to validate the acts of the State Land
Board," ignominiously conceived, was properly killed, and the
State's case against Goodnight for illegal enclosure finally resulted
in a decision of the Supreme Court in favor of the defendant, long
after the political issues were dead.3"
But the land legislation impending in both Houses was still
such as to cause Goodnight and other cowmen much worry, and
the bills that caused them to shudder were introduced by Browning
and Houston, both free-grassers. The former proposed the aboli-
tion of leasing; the latter proposed not only to prevent but "to
make the maintenance of existing unauthorized inclosures" penal,
punishable by fine and penitentiary imprisonment. Enactment of
Houston's bill would have forced the destruction of all fences;
would have thrown the country back into an open range; would
have totally bankrupted the straitened industry; and brought on
the utmost confusion and strife.
3Austin Statesman, March 16 and 17, 1887; Senate Journal, as cited,
42 and 78.
"Galveston News, April 2 and 3, 1877; Senate Journal, as cited, 684.
For adverse comment in the Panhandle, see the Tascosa Pioneer, March
2 and April 13, 1887.
"Austin Statesman, March 19, 1887; Texas Reports, Vol. 70, pp. 682-
689; The Gazette, February 19, 1887.
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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/m1/29/ocr/: accessed December 19, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.