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Chapter 8 Texas in the Age of Agrarian Discontent

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1 Chapter 8 Texas in the Age of Agrarian Discontent

2 “The Land Grant Law of 1876 authorized the granting of sixteen sections of land to railroad companies for every mile of main-line track they completed.” p. 206. Coming of the Steam Train in 1873 put Reagan, Texas on the Map! The old Reagan Depot stood next to the Train tracks until the 1960's.


4 Segregation of African-American railroad passengers was a long-standing tradition in the South, despite Emancipation and passage of constitutional amendments related to civil and political rights. In 1871, the wife of Senator Burton was thrown off a moving train when she refused to leave the whites-only coach. Situations like this inspired African-American legislators to join Representative Mayes in attempting to enact laws supporting equal accommodation on trains for African Americans. In the late 1870s, Representative R. J. Evans of Navasota offered an amendment to a railroad rate bill which, if the amendment had passed, would have made it illegal not to sell African-Americans first-class tickets. The railroad segregation issue was one of the primary concerns of African-American legislators throughout the 1880s. In 1881, Representative R. J. Moore attached a relevant amendment to one bill after another African-American woman was thrown from a train after standing up for her right to sit where she wanted. Governor John Ireland pleaded with the Colored Men’s Convention of 1883 not to press the railroad issue, but they did. Ireland then went to the railroad companies and asked them to provide separate but equal coaches and some complied. However, "separate but equal" was still segregation. In 1889, during the 21st legislative session, Representatives Mayes and Asberry worked tirelessly to end racial segregation in railroad passenger cars. The segregationists had more influence. In 1896, railroad accommodations were the case in point when the U.S. Supreme Court legalized separate-but-equal facilities for whites and African Americans. This photo shows a "land train," bringing prospective investors to Texas, circa African-American porters stand on the far right. "Separate but equal" segregation was the law in Texas and other Southern states from the 1880s until segregation was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court in the 1950s.. Many jobs were also segregated. The job of porter was considered a black man's job. Prints and Photographs Collection, Texas State Library and Archives.


6 From 1875 to 1900, lumber led all other freight in tonnage transported by Texas railroads.

7 The first multi million-dollar firm in Texas was a lumber company owned by John Henry Kirby. John Henry Kirby, the "Prince of the Pines," shown in a 1925 photo. With East Coast investors, Kirby established land companies with vast timber holdings in the Pineywoods. In 1893, he built the Gulf, Beaumont, and Kansas City Railroad and used proceeds from its sale to finance more land purchases. In 1901, he organized the Houston Oil Company of Texas and the Kirby Lumber Company. Although at one point the lumber company controlled more than 300,000 acres of land and operated 13 sawmills, business reversals during the depression forced Kirby into bankruptcy.


9 In the lumber industry, African-Americans workers comprised about one-third of the labor force.

10 The attitude of the timber-company owners toward organized labor could best be described as hostile opposition.

11 The Great Southwest Strike of 1886 was a strike led by the Knights of Labor against Jay Gould’s railroad lines. (See p. 219.)

12 Throughout the late nineteenth century, the state financed its prison system by leasing out convict labor. (See pages )

13 Table 8.1 Dollar Value of Texas Crops (See p. 221)
1870 1880 1890 1900 Wheat $391,886 $2,441,918 $3,589,442 $7,592,852 Corn 10,153,941 11,509,808 34,940,748 39,259,415 Oats 297,439 1,761,609 5,334,496 6,241,192 Cotton 21,212,994 39,458,916 63,263,400 107,510,010


15 The Increasing Percentage of Tenant Farming in Texas, 1880-1900
(See page 222)

16 Public fund had subsidized the railroads, and now that they had fallen short of the promised economic panacea, proponents of the New South and the railroads themselves became politically suspect. See p. 209. The fixing of rates explains the shippers’ charges of railroad corruption, which only increased in intensity as southern farmers became less prosperous.

17 Railroads proved a mix blessing as farmers became tied to faraway markets and the vagaries of the wider national and international economy. See page 209.

18 In 1875, Congress passed the Specie Resumption Act, which returned the nation to the gold standard by When the country returned to the gold standard, the amount of money in circulation declined precipitously, which caused interest rates to skyrocket. Farmers were particularly hard hit by these developments. The Greenbacks were an agrarian reform party that emerged in the 1870s and 1880s favoring monetary inflation. They wanted to reverse the Specie Resumption Act. (See pp )

19 Granger Movement, agrarian movement in the United States, initiated shortly after the American Civil War with the aim of improving the social, economic, and political status of farmers. The movement constituted the initial stage in the unrest among farmers in many areas of the U.S. that characterized the latter part of the 19th century. Among the causes of the unrest were the declining prices of farm products, the growing indebtedness of farmers to merchants and banks, the discriminatory freight rates imposed on farmers by the railroads, and the acquisition by the railroads of public lands that formerly had served pioneer farmers as a source of new farmland. In 1867, Oliver H. Kelley, an employee of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, founded the Patrons of Husbandry, commonly called the Grange. He conceived of the Patrons as a secret fraternal society that would offer social and educational benefits to its membership. (p. 231) Grangers exercised significant influence over the constitutional convention of 1876.

20 A Farmers’ Alliance Convention.
In the 1880s, the Farmers’ Alliance replaced the Grange as the largest agrarian reform organization in Texas. A Farmers’ Alliance Convention.

21 The Populist Party advocated government ownership of railroads, abolition of the national banking system, and establishment of the subtreasury system. The Subtreasury Plan would have allowed farmers to store staple crops in government warehouses and receive loans against the market value of these crops in the form of government notes that could circulate as currency. (pp ) Historical cartoon of Populist Party as a snake with William Jennings Bryan's head swallowing donkey of the Democratic Party.

22 Governor Oran M. Roberts and the Fifty Cent Law of 1879. See p. 210.

23 Texas' First Public Institute for Higher Education (The Agricultural and Mechanical College -- 1876)
A&M's Earliest Campus. In its first year, the campus at the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas consisted to just two buildings: Steward's Hall (left) and Old Main. Two wooden barracks were added behind Old Main for the second session (just visible through the front porch of Steward's Hall).

24 In 1902, Texas voters approved of a poll tax that disenfranchised many poor whites and blacks and further limited the possible third-party challenges to Democratic hegemony. The Texas legislature passed many Jim Crow laws, mandating, for example, segregated railroad facilities. Soon Texas, like many southern states, had erected an elaborate legal code that racially segregated public and private facilities. p. 240.

25 Guadalupe Salt Lakes The Salt War (p. 190.)

26 The Texas Rangers in the post-Civil War period an effective but often violent and lawless fighting force. (pp )

27 After the death of Edmund J
After the death of Edmund J. Davis, the Republican party of Texas was led by the African American Norris Wright Cuney.


29 1890 Views In Texarkana, Arkansas and Texas
1890 Views In Texarkana, Arkansas and Texas. This engraving is from the May 3, 1890 edition of Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper. It shows scenes of the following: Office of J. Duetschman, Broad Street, residence of W.A. Kelsey, Union Depot, Cosmopolitan Hotel, Texarkana Ice Co., Water Works, Kizer Lumber, Benefield Hotel, O.P. Taylor Real Estate, and Huckins House. Source:

30 1888 Pictures of Dallas, Texas
1888 Pictures of Dallas, Texas. Hand colored engraved images titled, " Texas.-The City if Dallas, Its Progress and Its Prospects-Views of Its Public Buildings, Streets, Etc., City Hall Buildings, in course of Construction, view on Commerce Street, View on Elm Street, Alliance Exchange Building, Private Residences, Corner of Commerce and Elm Streets, Merchant's Exchange, Bird's Eye View of the Texas State Fair Grounds and Dallas Club House," from Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper. Shows scenes of Dallas, Texas and its landmarks and buildings. Source:

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