The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 69, July 1965 - April, 1966 Page: 164
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
Along with Florida, Texas was the youngest of the Southern
states in the decade before the Civil War. In many areas of the
state frontier conditions still prevailed, while in other areas,
notably the rich farm lands of central and east Texas, the plan-
tation system already was well established. Yet in Texas, as in
states of the older South, the role of the legislature in state
government was predominant.4
In all, some 570 individuals served in the Texas legislature in
the decade before the Civil War: 130 members served in the
senate and 440 in the house of representatives." The number of
seats in individual legislatures increased during the decade from
the eighty-man body of 1850 to one hundred and twenty seats in
the legislature of 1859-1861. Rotation in office, a Jacksonian pre-
cept, was more than just theory in ante-bellum Texas: 116 sen-
ators, or 89.2 per cent of the entire group, served only one four-
year term during the period, and 380 representatives, or 86.4 per
cent of the entire group, served only one two-year term. No in-
dividual served in all six legislatures of the decade and only two,
Jesse Grimes of Grimes County in the senate and Hamilton P.
Bee of Webb County in the house, served in five legislatures.
Only one other house member, N. B. Charlton of Tyler County,
served in as many as four legislatures between 185o and 1861,
while five senators served in four legislatures.6 All in all, the
turnover in legislative personnel during the decade was surpris-
Analysis of the membership of all six of the legislatures would
require considerably more space and data than is presently avail-
'See Francis N. Thorpe (comp.), The Federal and State Constitutions, Colonial
Charters, and Other Organic Laws (Washington, 1909), VI, 3549-3554, 3559-3563,
for enumeration of powers of the Texas legislature during the late ante-bellum
'Tommy Yett (comp.), Members of the Legislature of the State of Texas from
2846 to 1939 (Austin, 1939), contains a roster of members of each Texas legislature
down through 1939-
6Senators who served in four of the six legislatures during this period were Hardin
H. Hart, Elisha E. Lott, M. M. Potter, and Edwin B. Scarborough.
'Rotation in office may have been quite common in Texas during the ante-bellum
period. Analysis of the names given in the manuscript election register, 1854-1861,
in the Archives, Texas State Library, shows that only seventy-four of some 314 indi-
viduals, or 23.6 per cent, who served as county sheriff during the period served more
than one two-year term.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 69, July 1965 - April, 1966, periodical, 1966; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117144/m1/204/: accessed June 24, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.