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Reaping a Greater Harvest

African Americans, the Extension Service, and Rural Reform in Jim Crow Texas

By Debra A. Reid Ph.D

Publication Year: 2007

Jim Crow laws pervaded the south, reaching from the famous "separate yet equal" facilities to voting discrimination to the seats on buses. Agriculture, a key industry for those southern blacks trying to forge an independent existence, was not immune to the touch of racism, prejudice, and inequality. In Reaping a Greater Harvest, Debra Reid deftly spotlights the hierarchies of race, class, and gender within the extension service. Black farmers were excluded from cooperative demonstration work in Texas until the Smith-Lever Agricultural Extension act in 1914. However, the resulting Negro Division included a complicated bureaucracy of African American agents who reported to white officials, were supervised by black administrators, and served black farmers. The now-measurable successes of these African American farmers exacerbated racial tensions and led to pressure on agents to maintain the status quo. The bureau that was meant to ensure equality instead became another tool for systematic discrimination and maintenance of the white-dominated southern landscape. Historians of race, gender, and class have joined agricultural historians in roundly praising Reid's work.

Published by: Texas A&M University Press

Series: Sam Rayburn Series on Rural Life, sponsored by Texas A&M University-Commerce

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. ix-x

This book began with a not uncommon family mystery: the search for my three-times-great-grandfather, James Grant, a doctor from Scotland’s Black Isle who once worked for the East India Company but then seemingly vanished from the records in the early 1820s. At first that search was no more than a casual distraction...

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pp. 1-5

On april 2, 1836, Richard Pakenham, the British minister to Mexico, formally advised the foreign secretary, Lord Palmerston, of the latest news from Texas. As expected, San Antonio de Béxar and the Alamo had now fallen to General Santa Anna, and it was confidently anticipated that the rebellion would soon...

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1. Gone to Texas

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pp. 6-26

In the beginning of course, Texas was Spanish territory, but in 1808 the French Emperor Napoleon invaded Spain, deposing and imprisoning its royal family and so beginning the terrible six-year-long Peninsular War. To the Spaniards it was their War of Independence, and that was exactly what it also became in their American...

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2. Revolution

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pp. 27-48

Sheer hard work was what earned James Grant his reputation as a man of progress. According to John Linn, Grant became the “resident agent of an English mining company,” perhaps pointing to a connection with the iron ore mine at Encarnación, which Wavell and Milam leased to an English company at about this time...

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3. Bexar

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pp. 49-68

Among all the other preparations recorded in Austin’s order book for November 21 is a short note directing that “the battery ordered to be erected within 300 yds of the walls of the fortifications [the Alamo] will be commenced this night, under the command of Capt. Cheshire assisted by Dr. James Grant as engineer...

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4. Contending Chieftains

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pp. 69-88

Texan historians have not been kind either to James Grant or to the expedition that he now led, and most have taken their cue from Sam Houston, who some time later charged in a vitriolic letter to Henry Smith: “Is he not a Scotchman who has resided in Mexico for the last ten years? Does he not own large possessions in the interior? . . . Is he not deeply interested in the hundred league claims...

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5. High Noon at Goliad

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pp. 89-108

The garrison lay where the Atascosita Road crossed the San Antonio River at a point about ninety miles downstream from Bexar and forty miles inland from Copano Bay, and like many places in Mexico it had two names. To some it was known simply as La Bahía (or, as the Americans frequently wrote it, “Labadee”), but others knew it as Goliad. By either name it was currently one of the most...

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6. Rio Grande

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pp. 109-128

William cooke may have thought that Houston had “completely defeated the object of Col. Grant” at Refugio, but James Grant himself may not have seen it quite that way. On the contrary, despite all the setbacks and troubles of the past three months, the plan to “revolutionize” Mexico at last seemed to be at the point of coming to fruition...

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7. “Go in and Die with the Boys”

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pp. 129-147

And so, unaware that it was already too late, Grant decided to go out again immediately, without waiting for a reply from Fannin to Johnson’s plea, in case it might bring more positive orders for Cooke and the others to fall back to Goliad. Although this foray was seemingly represented as such both at the time and later, the “secret expedition” was not to be a mere horse...

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8. From Sea to Shining Sea

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pp. 148-167

On the same day Grant was killed, the reconvened Texian Convention issued the long-expected formal Declaration of Independence from Mexico. Few of the signatories, who included Sam Houston, seem to have been in any doubt at all that this declaration was merely a temporary arrangement pending an annexation of Texas by the United States. Just five days afterward Houston...

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9. Postscript

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pp. 168-180

For the united states the annexation of Texas paved the way for the final stages of the march to the Pacifi c Ocean. As William Kennedy noted: “In a letter written by General Andrew Jackson, and published some months before his death, he observed...


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pp. 181-198


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pp. 199-222


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pp. 223-228


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pp. 229-235

E-ISBN-13: 9781603445054
E-ISBN-10: 1603445056
Print-ISBN-13: 9781585445714
Print-ISBN-10: 1585445711

Page Count: 328
Illustrations: 35 b&w photos. 1 line art. 6 maps. 10 tables.
Publication Year: 2007

Series Title: Sam Rayburn Series on Rural Life, sponsored by Texas A&M University-Commerce