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Pendleton Murrah and States Rights in Civil War Texas

From: Civil War History
Volume 45, Number 2, June 1999
pp. 126-146 | 10.1353/cwh.1999.0101

In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

Pendleton Murrah and States Rights in Civil War Texas
John Moretta

John Moretta is professor of history at Houston Community College, Central College, in Houston, Texas. Moretta holds a doctorate in American history from Rice University. He has published several articles on Texas history and has just finished a biography of Texas lawyer William Pitt Ballinger (Texas State Historical Association, forthcoming).


1. The most complete analysis of seccession in Texas is Walter L. Buenger's Secession and the Union in Texas (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1984). Other valuable general studies are Oran Lonnie Sinclair, "Crossroads of Conviction: A Study of the Texas Political Mind, 1856-1861" (Ph.D. diss., Rice University, 1975); Frank Smyrl, "Unionism in Texas, [856-1861, Southwestern Historical Quarterly 68 (Oct. 1964): 172-95; Anna Irene Sandbo, "Beginnings of the Secession Movement in Texas," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 18 (July 1914): 41-47, and "The First Session of the Secession Convention of Texas," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 18 (July 1914): 162-94. On individual Texans who experienced great anxiety in accepting secession but who became ardent Confederates, see John Moretta, "William Pitt Ballinger and the Travail of Texas Secession," Houston Review 11 (Fall 1989): 3-23; Claude Elliot, Leathercoat: The Life History of a Texas Patriot (San Antonio: Standard Publishing, 1938), 46-49, 56-59; Larry G. Gage, "The Texas Road to Secession and War: John Marshall and the Texas State Gazette, 1860-1861," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 62 (Oct. 1958): 198-210; Alma Dexta King, "The Political Career Of William Simpson Oldham," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 33 (Oct. 1929): 112-31; Ben H. Proctor, Not Without Honor: The Life of John H. Reagan (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1962), 118-24; Phillip J. Avilo Jr., "John H. Reagan: Unionist or Secessionist," East Texas Historical Journal 13 (Spring 1975): 23-33; Edward R. Maher Jr., "Sam Houston and Secession," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 55 (Apr. 1952): 448-58; Earl W. Fornell, The Galveston Era: The Texas Crescent on the Eve of Secession (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1961), 267-301; J. Walker Austin to "Son," Mar. 22 1861, J. Walker Austin Papers, Barker Texas History Center, Austin, Tex. On the concept of nationalism see Boyd C. Shafer, Faces of Nationalism: New Realities and Old Myths (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1972) and Nationalism, Myth and Reality, (New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1955); Carl Degler, The Other South: Southern Dissenters in the Nineteenth Century (New York: Harper, 1974), 124-25; Many ex-unionists-turned-Confederates personify what Morton Grodzins calls traitriots, individuals who renounce their country because it has somehow foresaken those values they hold dear or who are more devoted to personal principles or values than to national loyalty. Such individuals believed that their Northern adversaries—most notably the Republicans—had perverted the Constitution, especially its protection of Southern property rights (slaves).

2. The most thorough discussion of states rights versus Confederate nationalism is Frank Owsley's seminal study, State Rights in the Confederacy (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1925). Also see Paul D. Escott, After Secession: Jefferson Davis and the Failure of Confederate Nationalism (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1978), especially chapters 2, 3, and 6; Richard Beringer, Herman Hattaway, Archer Jones, and William N. Still Jr., Why the South Lost the Civil War (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1986), 64-83, 424-57.

3. Ezra J. Warner and Wilfied Buck Yearns, Biographical Register of the Confederate Congress (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1975), 187-88, 256-57: Thomas B. Alexander and Richard E. Beringer, The Anatomy of the Confederate Congress: A Study of the Influence of Member Characteristics on Legislative Voting Behavior, 1861-1865 (Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press, 1972), 14-15, 57-58, 106; Wilfrid Buck Yearns, The Confederate Congress (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1960), 234-35; Alvy L. King, Louis T. Wigfall, Southern Fire-eater (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1970), 135-53; Eric H. Walther, The Fire-Eaters (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1992), 189-92; Ralph A. Wooster, Texas and Texans in the Civil War (Austin: Eakin Press, 1995), 104.

4. Ernest Wallace, Texas in Turmoil (Austin, 1965), 117-25, Rubert Richardson, Ernest Wallace, and Adrian Anderson, Texas...