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Beyond Redemption

Texas Democrats after Reconstruction

By Patrick G. Williams

Publication Year: 2007

At the end of Reconstruction, the old order reasserted itself, to varying degrees, throughout the former Confederate states. This period—Redemption, as it was called—was crucial in establishing the structures and alliances that dominated the Solid South until at least the mid-twentieth century. Texas shared in this, but because of its distinctive antebellum history, its western position within the region, and the large influx of new residents that poured across its borders, it followed its own path toward Redemption. Now, historian Patrick G. Williams provides a dual study of the issues facing Texas Democrats as they rebuilt their party and of the policies they pursued once they were back in power. Treating Texas as a southern but also a western and a borderlands state, Williams has crafted a work with a richly textured awareness unlike any previous single study. Students of regional and political history will benefit from Williams’ comprehensive view of this often overlooked, yet definitive era in Texas history.

Published by: Texas A&M University Press

Series: Red River Valley Books Series, sponsored by Texas A&M University-Texarkana


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Title Page

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pp. ix-x

I suspect (and earnestly hope) that I am not the only author who begins plotting out the acknowledgments before writing a word of the book. now that the time of thanksgiving has arrived, though, it seems too daunting a task to do justice to all those who midwifed this woefully protracted gestation. this study began at Columbia University as a dissertation sponsored by Eric Foner. ...

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Introduction: South by Southwest

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pp. 1-12

On the morning of September 28, 1874, federal troops under the command of Col. Ranald Mackenzie overran a sprawling encampment of Comanches, Kiowas, and Cheyennes in Palo Duro canyon, where a fork of the Red River cuts into Texas’ high plains. Although only a few Indians died in the engagement, the rout doomed ...

Part 1. Making Texas Safe for the Democracy

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1. Redeeming State Government, 872–74

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pp. 15-35

The winter before the battle at Palo Duro—on January 15, 1874—Democratic legislators installed Texas’ first Redeemer governor. Like the cold, wet weather, the circumstances of Richard Coke’s inauguration were hardly auspicious.1 As the Waco jurist and planter himself recalled: “An universal conflict of jurisdiction and authority, ...

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2. Redemption’s Second Act, 1874–75: The Judiciary and Local Government

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pp. 36-60

Shortly after the Coke-Davis imbroglio, the same Redeemer legislators who officially praised President Grant’s refusal to intervene as “a high recognition of the inherent right of local self government” deposed Houston’s elected municipal government, bringing Redemption to a city deemed by one Democratic newspaperman as “the ...

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3. The Ballot Box and the Jury Box: Redeemers and the Privileges of Citizenship

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pp. 61-86

As the Democratic Statesman suggests, it need not have been so difficult for Texas Redeemers to reconcile their principle of local self-government with their interest in extending party authority in places where a majority or large minority of adult males sided with the opposition. Should a sufficient number of the politically unreliable ...

Part 2. The Political Economy of Redemption

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4. Retrenchment, Development, and the Politics of Public Land

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pp. 89-118

Texas Redeemers argued over more than just the lengths they had to go to secure their power. They also divided over the ends that power would serve. Many Texans demanded that state and local government act to advance their material interests. The state itself had enormous needs. Deciding whether and how government would address ...

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5. Redeemer Democrats and the Politics of Social Welfare

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pp. 119-140

In redeeming Texas, Democrats not only charted the role government would play in promoting development but also had to define its responsibilities in cultivating the state’s human resources. As in most states, public education represented the signal effort in this regard. Indeed, as measured by expense, common-school education would be the ...

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6. The Crisis of Redeemer Government, 1878–84

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pp. 141-166

Texas’ frontier needs, its southern politics, and its unique bounty of public land had combined to forge a strategy for governing that set the state’s Democrats apart from other Redeemers. They created a constitution that in terms of tax rates, tax exemptions, and immigration promotion was even more stinting than those of a number ...

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Conclusion: Redemption’s Final Act

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pp. 167-178

If a distinct period in the political history of Texas had closed by the end of the 1880s, Redeemer Democrats left behind unfinished business and enduring patterns of government. Over the next century, the state’s fundamentally southern politics would continue to be shaped by resources and populations that set it apart from much of Dixie. ...


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pp. 179-208


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pp. 209-222


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pp. 223-234

E-ISBN-13: 9781603444897
E-ISBN-10: 1603444890
Print-ISBN-13: 9781585445738
Print-ISBN-10: 1585445738

Page Count: 248
Illustrations: 1 b&w photo. 1 map.
Publication Year: 2007

Series Title: Red River Valley Books Series, sponsored by Texas A&M University-Texarkana
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OCLC Number: 708568335
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Beyond Redemption

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Subject Headings

  • Texas -- History -- 19th century.
  • Reconstruction (U.S. history, 1865-1877) -- Texas.
  • Democratic Party (U.S.) -- History -- 19th century.
  • Political parties -- Texas -- History -- 19th century.
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