The Texas Progressive Alliance is back from the conventions and focused on the fall as it brings you this week’s roundup.
BossKitty at TruthHugger knows why politicians always hire professional marketers. Americans have been conditioned to react predictably, and marketers know how to sway the voter and consumer, that’s why America Is Pavlov’s Dog.
The James Cargas campaign sunk to a new low over the weekend with an e-mail to precinct chairs criticizing a single mother’s primary voting record. PDiddie at Brains and Eggs reminds voters of Congressional District 7 that there’s a corporate Democrat and a community Democrat running for the Democratic nomination, and which one represents the party in a November should be a very easy choice, no matter where on the spectrum you fall.
Neil at Texas Liberal posted about 2012 Juneteenth observances and celebrations in Galveston, Houston and College Station. This post also has Juneteenth history links. Juneteenth 2012 is on Tuesday, June 19.
On this day in 1865, an estimated fifty desperadoes broke into the state treasury in Austin, one of the boldest crimes in Texas history. The robbery occurred during the chaotic period immediately after the downfall of the Confederacy in the spring of 1865. Gen. Nathan G. Shelley informed George R. Freeman, a Confederate veteran and leader of a small company of volunteer militia, that the robbery was imminent. By the time Freeman and about twenty of his troops arrived at the treasury, the robbers were in the building. A brief gunfight erupted in which one of the robbers was mortally wounded; all the other robbers fled toward Mount Bonnell, west of Austin, carrying with them about $17,000 in specie, more than half of the gold and silver in the state treasury. None was ever captured. The loot was never recovered, although some of the money was found strewn between the treasury building and Mount Bonnell. Freeman and his company of volunteers were later recognized by the state for their service in defending the public treasury, but the resolution providing a reward for their services never passed the legislature.
For a time, Texas was lawless, without either civil or military authority. In most places, local efforts prevented complete chaos. In Austin, a civilian mob of women and children, white and black, attacked and looted abandoned storehouses. A band of ex-soldiers wrote the final ignominious chapter of the Confederacy. They sacked the unguarded treasury building in Austin and stole $17,000 in gold and silver from the people of Texas — more than half the hard currency in the treasury.
On June 19, 1865, federal military authority was established in Texas when Union general Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston. Granger proclaimed the end of slavery (an event that later became known as Juneteenth), declared the laws of the Confederacy null and void, and announced that all cotton was now public property.
Civilian government was restored on July 25, when General Wesley Merritt and the 18th New York Cavalry escorted Andrew Jackson Hamilton to the Capitol building in Austin. The Austin attorney and Unionist had fled Texas for his life in 1862 and offered his services to the United States. A hero in the North, he was now back home—as the new federal governor of Texas. Reconstruction had begun.
Toll of War
About 70,000 Texans served in the Confederate army. They fought in every theater and almost every battle of the war. Texans earned a legendary reputation for valor. Hood’s Texas Brigade (Antietam), Terry’s Texas Rangers (Shiloh, Murfreesboro, Chickamauga, Chattanooga, and others), Walker’s Texas Division (Red River campaign), Granbury’s Texas Brigade (Missionary Ridge, Franklin), and Ross’s Texas Brigade (Atlanta) were among the most storied troops in the entire Confederacy.
The overall toll of the war was ruinous. The cost in human lives was only the most obvious price to pay. Thousands of individuals and families were totally impoverished by the war. The state’s infrastructure—roads, railroads, harbors—was a wreck, and even livestock and wagons were in short supply after years of military impressment. The civilian population had suffered through shortages, vigilantism, and disruption of normal family life, schooling, and work. On the frontier, the difficulties of manning a defensive force led to about 400 civilians being killed, wounded, or taken prisoner in Indian attacks.
The state treasury was bankrupt. Texans had paid in more than $1.2 million to support the Confederacy (almost $200 million in today’s money). The Confederacy died owing Texas about $340,000 ($4 million in today’s dollars) for ordnance, supplies, and medical supplies furnished by the Lone Star State.
On this day in 1901, Gregorio Lira Cortez shot and killed Karnes County sheriff W. T. Morris and fled. The apparent misunderstandings that led to the killing, and the extended pursuit, capture, and trials of Cortez made him a folk hero. His exploits are celebrated in many variants of El Corrido de Gregorio Cortez, a popular ballad that has inspired books and at least one movie. Cortez, a Mexican native, was farming near Kenedy in 1901, when Sheriff Morris and his deputy, Boon Choate, questioned him about a stolen horse. With Choate interpreting, a misunderstanding apparently occurred that caused Morris to shoot and wound Cortez’s brother Romaldo, after which Cortez shot and killed Morris. While newspapers followed the subsequent manhunt, Cortez became a hero to many Hispanics and some Anglos. Violent reprisals and a series of trials and appeals followed. During them, Cortez was held in eleven jails in eleven counties, after which he was finally granted a conditional pardon and released in 1913. The corrido lionizing him was sung as early as 1901.
On this day in 1893, the organizers of the Loving Canal and Irrigation Company filed a petition with the Reeves County Commissioners Court requesting separate organization for Loving County. In 1887 the Texas legislature had separated Loving County from Tom Green County, but it remained attached to Reeves County for judicial purposes. Loving County is the only Texas county to be organized twice. The first organization appears to have been a scheme to defraud on the part of the organizers. Although the 1890 United States census reported a population of only three in Loving County, the petition filed with the Reeves County Commissioners Court three years later was signed by 150 allegedly qualified voters. In the ensuing county election eighty-three votes were reported, and county organization was approved. In the spring of 1894, however, only three people were found to be living in Mentone, the county seat. Loving County reportedly held a second election of county officials in November 1894, but there is evidence that neither election was legitimate. The legislature deorganized Loving County in 1897, reattaching it to Reeves County. After Mentone was abandoned in 1897, no town existed in Loving County. The 1900 census reported a county population of eleven females and twenty-two males, all white. With the discovery of oil in the county in the 1920s, the population grew, and the county was organized a second time in 1931. The oil town of Ramsey was renamed Mentone and became the county seat.
On this day in 1886, Conger Neblett was born in Corsicana. In 1926 she married Jack Hagar, a Bostonian who had come to Texas because of his interests in oil and real estate. In 1935 the Hagars moved to Rockport, where Connie Hagar spent the rest of her life as an amateur bird-watcher and gained the respect of professional ornithologists in Europe and the United States. The “Texas bird lady” added over twenty new species to the avifauna list of the state and was the first to report numerous species of migratory birds, including several that were thought to be extinct. She died in 1973 and was buried in a spot overlooking the wildlife sanctuary that bears her name.
On this day in 1943, whites and blacks clashed in Beaumont after workers at a local shipyard learned that a white woman had accused a black man of raping her. On the evening of June 15 more than 2,000 workers, plus perhaps another 1,000 interested bystanders, marched toward City Hall. Even though the woman could not identify the suspect among the blacks held in the city jail, the workers dispersed into small bands and proceeded to terrorize black neighborhoods in central and north Beaumont. Many blacks were assaulted, several businesses were pillaged, a number of buildings were burned, and more than 100 homes were ransacked. Acting Texas governor A. M. Aikin, Jr., placed Beaumont under martial law. More than 200 people were arrested, fifty were injured, and two–one black and one white–were killed. Another black man died later of injuries received during the riot. Twenty-nine of those arrested were turned over to civil authorities on charges of assault and battery, unlawful assembly, and arson. The remainder were released, mostly because of lack of evidence.
On this day in 1921, Bessie Coleman became the world’s first licensed black pilot. The native of Atlanta, Texas, graduated from high school in Waxahachie and attended Colored Agricultural and Normal University in Oklahoma. After moving to Chicago, she went to France and attended the aviation school at Le Crotoy. The Federation Aeronautique Internationale issued her a pilot’s license. She flew in her first air show at Curtiss Field near Manhattan in 1922. She afterward took part in many more shows while touring the country, and her daredevil stunts earned her the nickname “Brave Bessie.” She was killed during a test flight on April 30, 1926, at Jacksonville, Florida. She is buried in Lincoln Cemetery at Chicago. A Chicago street is named Bessie Coleman Drive, and a United States commemorative stamp in her honor was issued in 1995.
On this day in 1855 some 200 French colonists arrived at the colony of La Réunion, located on the south bank of the Trinity River in central Dallas County within the present city limits of Dallas. La Réunion was founded as a utopian experiment by Victor Prosper Considérant, one of the leading democratic socialist figures in France. The 1855 arrivals landed in Galveston, traveled overland from the coast, reached Dallas in April, and arrived at La Réunion on June 16. Although many settlers left the colony soon after they arrived, new colonists kept the population fairly constant for about two years; the number of residents peaked at around 350 in the fall of 1856. La Réunion existed as a serious communal organization for only about eighteen months. Financial insolvency killed the colony.