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

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

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Beyond Redemption

Texas Democrats after Reconstruction

By Patrick G. Williams

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.

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Great Southwest Railroad Strike and Free Labor

By Theresa A. Case

Focusing on a story largely untold until now, Theresa A. Case studies the "Great Southwest Strike of 1886," which pitted entrepreneurial freedom against the freedom of employees to have a collective voice in their workplace. This series of local actions involved a historic labor agreement followed by the most massive sympathy strike the nation had ever seen. It attracted western railroaders across lines of race and skill, contributed to the rise and decline of the first mass industrial union in U.S. history (the Knights of Labor), and brought new levels of federal intervention in railway strikes. Case takes a fresh look at the labor unrest that shook Jay Gould's railroad empire in Texas, Arkansas, Missouri, Kansas, and Illinois. In Texas towns and cities like Marshall, Dallas, Fort Worth, Palestine, Texarkana, Denison, and Sherman, union recognition was the crucial issue of the day. Case also powerfully portrays the human facets of this strike, reconstructing the story of Martin Irons, a Scottish immigrant who came to adopt the union cause as his own. Irons committed himself wholly to the failed strike of 1886, continuing to urge violence even as courts handed down injunctions protecting the railroads, national union leaders publicly chastised him, the press demonized him, and former strikers began returning to work.  Irons’s individual saga is set against the backdrop of social, political, and economic changes that transformed the region in the post–Civil War era. Students, scholars, and general readers interested in railroad, labor, social, or industrial history will not want to be without The Great Southwest Railroad Strike and Free Labor.

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Planting the Union Flag in Texas

The Campaigns of Major General Nathaniel P. Banks in the West

By Stephen A. Dupree

Appointed by President Lincoln to command the Gulf Department in November 1862, Nathaniel Prentice Banks was given three assignments, one of which was to occupy some point in Texas. He was told that when he united his army with Grant’s, he would assume command of both. Banks, then, had the opportunity to become the leading general in the West—perhaps the most important general in the war. But he squandered what successes he had, never rendezvoused with Grant’s army, and ultimately orchestrated some of the greatest military blunders of the war. “Banks’s faults as a general,” writes author Stephen A. Dupree, “were legion.” The originality of Planting the Union Flag in Texas lies not just in the author’s description of the battles and campaigns Banks led, nor in his recognition of the character traits that underlay Banks’s decisions. Rather, it lies in how Dupree synthesizes his studies of Banks’s various actions during his tour of duty in and near Texas to help the reader understand them as a unified campaign. He skillfully weaves together Banks’s various attempts to gain Union control of Texas with his other activities and shines the light of Banks’s character on the resulting events to help explain both their potential and their shortcomings. In the end, readers will have a holistic understanding of Banks’s “appalling” failure to win Texas and may even be led to ask how the post–Civil War era might have been different had he been successful. This fine study will appeal to Civil War buffs and fans of military and Texas history.

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