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Texas Left

The Radical Roots of Lone Star Liberalism

Edited by David O'Donald Cullen and Kyle G. Wilkison

Publication Year: 2010

The Texas Left. Some would say the phrase is an oxymoron. For most of the twentieth century, the popular perception of Texas politics has been that of dominant conservatism, punctuated by images of cowboys, oil barons, and party bosses intent on preserving a decidedly capitalist status quo. In fact, poor farmers and laborers who were disenfranchised, segregated, and, depending on their ethnicity and gender, confronted with varying levels of hostility and discrimination, have long composed the "other" political heritage of Texas. In The Texas Left, fourteen scholars examine this heritage. Though largely ignored by historians of previous decades who focused instead on telling the stories of the Alamo, the Civil War, the cattle drives, and the oilfield wildcatters, this parallel narrative of those who sought to resist repression reveals themes important to the unfolding history of Texas and the Southwest. Volume editors David O'Donald Cullen and Kyle G. Wilkison have assembled a collection of pioneering studies that provide the broad outlines for future research on liberal and radical social and political causes in the state and region. Among the topics explored in this book are early efforts of women, blacks, Tejanos, labor organizers, and political activists to claim rights of citizenship, livelihood, and recognition, from the Reconstruction era until recent times.

Published by: Texas A&M University Press


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pp. v-vi


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pp. vii-viii

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“The Right to Work, to Starve, to Die”: The Forgotten Radical Heritage of Texas

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pp. 1-12

In May 1886 thousands of radical Texas farmers and laborers convened in Central Texas, issuing a call for protecting farmers’ and workers’ rights. Labor unionist William E. Farmer of Bonham, soon-to-be-Populist and future founder of the Texas Socialist Party, warned his comrades that Texas had overproduced...

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“Texas Out-radicals My Radicalism”: Roots of Radical Republicanism in Reconstruction Texas

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pp. 13-35

In July 1867 the Texas Republican Party held its first statewide convention, at Houston. The platform produced by the delegates, many of whom had roots in the state’s antebellum politics, marked the new party as an organization possessing one of the most radical agendas in the state’s history. ...

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Rebel Farmers: The Texas Farmers’ Alliance

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pp. 36-52

The Farmers’ Alliance had its beginnings in a time of great hardship for farmers. Beginning in the mid-1870s, crop prices began to fall sharply. Texas farmers were hit hardest by the decline in cotton prices. Prior to 1875, cotton prices had fluctuated between $.12 and $.18 per pound. ...

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“A Host of Sturdy Patriots”: The Texas Populists

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pp. 53-73

Despite claims to the contrary, it was really no coincidence that two separate conventions were being held on consecutive days in Dallas in August 1891. One was the annual gathering of the state Farmers’ Alliance, the massively popular self-help organization that, although officially nonpartisan, had increasingly served as a political protest vehicle for struggling farmers over the previous several years. ...

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The Texas Socialist Party

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pp. 74-91

Thousands of Texans turned to the Socialist Party during the first two decades of the twentieth century in the hope of attaining a brighter future. Under the leadership of former Populists, the Socialist movement grew slowly at first. The party sponsored political rallies and educational campaigns, and further broadened its appeal through Socialist encampments. ...

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Texas . . . Unions . . . Time: Unions in Texas from the Time of the Republic through the Great War, 1838– 1919

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pp. 92-111

In the half century between 1870 and 1920 the Texas labor movement and its agrarian allies helped elect reform-minded men to public offices—and even when they failed to do so, their challenges sometimes persuaded the dominant Democratic Party to embrace reform. ...

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Looking for Lefty: Liberal/ Left Activism and Texas Labor, 1920s–1960s

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pp. 112-132

In the spring of 1985, at Houston’s University of St. Thomas, the late Texas historian Joe B. Frantz presented a paper entitled “The Mind of Texas.” Professor Frantz’s wit and wisdom enthralled the audience, especially his cogent observations on Texas ideology. ...

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Not Whistling Dixie: Women’s Movements and Feminist Politics

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pp. 133-156

Texas being such a big state, “it actually contains several different cultures. They are all rotten for women,” the late Molly Ivins once deadpanned in an article for Ms. magazine. Throughout most of the twentieth century the culture that progressive women struggled against was the southern one that Texas shared with the other states of the former Confederacy. ...

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Confronting White Supremacy: The African American Left in Texas, 1874– 1974

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pp. 157-190

On July 7, 1912, a gun battle broke out in the small mill town of Grabow, Louisiana, during a “lumber war” between members of the Brotherhood of Timber Workers (BTW), a biracial union in western Louisiana and East Texas, and forces representing the Southern Lumber Operators’ Association, an owner’s group set up not only...

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More Than a Somnolent Type: Tejanos Resist the Rule of Dominance

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pp. 191-208

Although the majority of Tejanos1 did not openly challenge the state’s economic and political systems, there was an active segment within the community that did dispute the circumstances inhibiting Mexican American yearnings for material betterment and social progress. ...

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A Modern Liberal Tradition in Texas?

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pp. 209-224

The values and goals expressed by liberals in post–World War II Texas originated in the political activism of such movements as the Farmers’ Alliance, Populism and organized labor of the late nineteenth century. ...

About the Contributors

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pp. 225-227


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pp. 229-243

E-ISBN-13: 9781603443708
E-ISBN-10: 1603443703
Print-ISBN-13: 9781603441759
Print-ISBN-10: 1603441751

Page Count: 248
Illustrations: Index.
Publication Year: 2010

OCLC Number: 680622457
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Texas Left

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Subject Headings

  • Social movements -- Texas -- History.
  • Texas -- Politics and government.
  • Left-wing extremists -- Texas -- History.
  • Labor unions and socialism -- Texas -- History.
  • Liberalism -- Texas -- History.
  • Radicalism -- Texas -- History.
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