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Where the West Begins

Debating Texas Identity

Glen Sample Ely, with foreword by Alwyn Barr

Publication Year: 2011

Unsure which of its legacies are true and which to embrace, Texas grapples with an identity crisis. One camp insists that the state’s roots in slavery, segregation, and cotton make it southern. Another argues that its Native and ranching history make it western. Outside Texas, southern and western historians who don’t know what to make of the state ignore it altogether. In his innovative settling of the question, Glen Sample Ely examines the state’s historical DNA, making sense of Lone Star identity west of the hundredth meridian and defining Texas’s place in the American West.Focusing on the motives that shape how Texans appropriate their past—from cashing in on tourism to avoiding historical realities—Ely reveals the inner workings of a multiplicity of Texas identities.

Published by: Texas Tech University Press

Series: Plains Histories

Front Matter

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pp. 1-8


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pp. 9-10

List of Illustrations & Maps

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pp. xi-12

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pp. xiii-xiv

Numerous people and institutions generously assisted the author over the last seven years. Without their help, this work would not have been possible. The author extends his gratitude to Plains Histories Series Editor John R. Wunder; Todd M. Kerstetter; Ben Johnson; Gregg Cantrell; Pecos County Clerk’s Office; Noel Parsons, Robert Mandel, Judith Keeling, Karen Medlin, and Joanna Conrad at Texas Tech University Press; ...

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pp. xv-xvii

Western images came to dominate the popular memory and mythology of Texas and Texans in the twentieth century, and continue to hold sway in the twenty- first. For a striking example, one need look no further than the names of most professional sports teams created in the state during the late 1900s—Cowboys, Texas Rangers, Spurs, and Mavericks. Movies, and later television shows, about cattle drives and ranching helped ...


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1. Where the West Begins

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pp. 3-34

The motto on the side of the parked police cruiser reads “Fort Worth: Where the West Begins.” Since the 1920s, the City of Fort Worth has actively promoted this slogan, after local newspaper publisher Amon Carter, Sr., inserted it into his paper’s masthead. Over the ensuing decades, Carter and the city persistently endeavored to brand Fort Worth ...

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2. Gone from Texas and Trading with the Enemy: New Perspectives on Civil War West Texas

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pp. 35-74

Governor Francis R. Lubbock understood Texas. Writing eigh teen months into the Civil War, he demonstrated a keen awareness of the state’s clashing identities, cultures, and divergent geographic regions. “Texas is . . . situated in many respects very diff erently from other of her Sisters [other Confederate states],” he observed, with “an immense frontier line” stretching from New Mexico and Indian Territory on the ...

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3. Race Relations as a Barometer of Western Identity

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pp. 75-98

The fact that Texas seceded from the Union might lead some to conclude that, like its sister states in the Confederacy, Texas was southern in outlook. Events in Texas’s shatterbelt region during the Civil War amply demonstrated that not all residents of the state shared the same values. Many Lone Star citizens did embrace a collective Texan distinctiveness, forged during the Revolution and Republic periods of 1832–1846. ...

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4. The "Garden of Eden" and the "Cowman's Paradise": Nineteenth-Century Myths Confront Twenty-First-Century Environmental Realities in West Texas

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pp. 99-119

Driving across West Texas’s Rolling Plains and South Plains regions, with acre after acre of cotton fi elds, one might form the impression of being in the American South. After all, cotton remains one of the South’s most enduring icons. Because of the Lone Star State’s diverse regional identities, however, such appearances can sometimes be illusory. In Texas west of the 100th meridian, the profusion ...

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5. Texas Identity West of the 100th Meridian

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pp. 121-131

The motto on the side of the Fort Worth police cruiser reads, “Where the West Begins.” Fort Worth, located near the 97th meridian, is not where the West begins. That distinction belongs to Del Rio, San Angelo, Sweetwater, Lubbock, and Amarillo—all beyond the 100th meridian. Fort Worth lies at the eastern edge of Texas’s shatterbelt region, where environmental and cultural fragments of the West and the South collide ...

Back Matter


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pp. 133-170


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pp. 171-192


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pp. 195-201

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About the Author

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pp. 220-220

Glen Sample Ely’s documentaries have appeared on PBS, the History Channel, and the Discovery Channel. His scholarly work has appeared in journals such as Southwestern Historical Quarterly and the New Mexico Historical Review. A Ph.D. graduate of Texas Christian University, he lives in Fort Worth, Texas. ...

E-ISBN-13: 9780896728189
E-ISBN-10: 0896728188
Print-ISBN-13: 9780896727243
Print-ISBN-10: 0896727246

Page Count: 228
Illustrations: 18
Publication Year: 2011

Series Title: Plains Histories
Series Editor Byline: John Smith, Will Wordsworth See more Books in this Series

OCLC Number: 868219621
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Where the West Begins