Texas Insights - March 2016

Volume VI, Issue 4

What’s New?

Life and Death on the Border (1910-1920)

The Bullock Texas History Museum’s newest exhibit, Life and Death on the Border (1910-1920), focuses on the divergent reactions to revolution in Mexico in Texas.  In the second decade of the 20th century, Texans read headline news of a “great war” in Europe, while at the same time a rebellion closer to home was having a more immediate impact on those living along the borders of Texas and Mexico.

Examine the events and context that represent some of the worst racial violence in United States history. Through display of rare artifacts, photographic records, court documents, newspapers, family histories, eye witness accounts, and recordings of the música Tejana of the Texas-Mexico border, this poignant exhibition will provide a fresh perspective on a little-known story that shaped the Mexican American civil rights movement and continues to have lasting impact today.

(Images courtesy of the Robert Runyon Photograph Collection at The Dolph Briscoe Center for American History at The University of Texas at Austin.) Frequent border crossings by local residents in both directions were an accepted part of daily life in Brownsville, Texas throughout the 19th century. People crossing from one border town to another could freely walk, ride across the bridge, or take one of hundreds of simple ferries.

Starting on January 23rd and ending April 4th, this exhibit is ideal for learning about Texas in the early 20th century. For additional information, visit TeachingTexas.org

Symposium on Bernardo De Galvez 

A symposium in honor of Bernardo De Galvez will be hosted by Rice University, The Institute of Hispanic Culture, The Consulate General of Spain and Granaderos y Damas de Galvez on Saturday, April 2, 2016 at 1 pm, followed by a reception at 5:30. Free and open to the public, an RSVP is required for admission. Guest speakers include the Honorable Miguel Angel Fernandez e Mazarambroz, Spanish Ambassador, Dr. Moramay Lopez-Alonso, Dr. Gonzalo Quintero Saravia, Dr. Carolina Castillo Crimm, and Dr. Thomas Chavez. Register and learn more at TeachingTexas.org.


Texas Quiz Show Competition

The annual online competition sees who knows their Texas history best. The competition heats up in March for Texas History Month! All 4th - 8th grade students can login and play at TexasQuizShow.orgRound 1 is March 1-11, 2016. If students pass all four quizzes in a round, they are invited to play the next round and the final round in March. If students make it to the top 20, they are invited to play in the LIVE championship round in Austin at the Bullock on Saturday, April 30, 2016 with the other 19 contestants. More at TeachingTexas.org.

Featured Institution

Institute of Texas Culture's Distance Learning

Designed for those who cannot make an in-person visit to a museum, the Smithsonian-affiliated UTSA Institute of Texan Cultures in San Antonio offers a variety of free TEKS-aligned distance learning programs designed to engage Texas educators and their students with artifacts, images, documents, and exhibits from the museum’s collections. The Institute’s live, interactive TexEdventures virtual field trips are led by a museum educator and help make social studies concepts come to life using Adobe Connect web conferencing software. All classrooms need to participate is a computer with a webcam, speakers, microphone, and Internet connection. The TexEdventures distance learning programs at the Institute began in the fall of 2015 with the main goal of taking programs that were already successful onsite and delivering them in a virtual way. The Institute currently offers year-round programs on Native American lifeways, Texas archaeology, and how to use primary and secondary sources in the classroom for grades 3-12. The Institute also offers special one-time event webinars and programs on a variety of other topics throughout the year. A Texas One-Room Schoolhouse program for grades K-2 and a Life in a West Texas Adobe House program for grades 4-7 are currently in the works for spring 2016.  All of these TEKS-aligned programs are accompanied by educator guides featuring engaging pre- and post-lesson activities teachers can complete with their students in the classroom.  

In addition to distance learning programs, the Institute produces and offers a wide variety of free online educator resources that help you bring the museum experience to your classroom. The Teaching With Stuff series shows teachers how they can enhance and provide tangible links to social studies curriculum using artifacts, images, and other primary source documents. Teachers can explore special topics in social studies and give their students a glimpse into pioneer lifeways, conflict on the Texas frontier, or the cowboys and cattle drives experience. Pressed for time or just looking for a quick conversation starter or warm-up idea? Educator Quick Start Guides break down topics in primary source analysis and historical research in the form of colorful, easy-to-follow infographics. Educators may also access UTSA’s Special Collections and tap into a diverse array of historic photographs and other documents related to Texas history. 
Facebook and Pinterest pages also work to connect educators with other learning professionals throughout Texas and help keep them up to date in trends in education and technology, professional development opportunities, and new classroom resources. The Institute strives to meet the needs of K-12 educators throughout Texas by providing quality resources and innovative programming. In doing so, the Institute hopes to instill a passion and appreciation for Texan culture and history into the next generation, in turn fostering the development of a community of lifelong learners. 
For more information on distance learning at the Institute of Texan Cultures, please visit TeachingTexas.org.

Historian's Corner

Texas from 1900 to the Great Depression
By Patrick Cox, Ph.D.
Retired Professor of History
Texas State University and The Briscoe Center for American History

Texas changed remarkably from the dawn of the twentieth century in 1900 to the end of World War I.  At the beginning of the century, the state still resembled and reflected its ties to the states of the defeated Southern Confederacy.  Texas in the early 1900’s remained largely rural, heavily dependent on agriculture, mainly poor with little in social services or public education, and staunchly segregated.  By the end of World War II, Texas was poised on the doorstep of modernization.  Although still strongly attached to the Southern culture and lagging in public services, notable changes had taken place.  Larger cities, improved infrastructure, a strong petrochemical industry and financial sector, and a growing population changed the face of the state.  While still a segregated society at the end of World War II, the foundations of the modern civil rights movement in Texas were in place.  Women began to gain recognition and equality during this same period. Along with these changes, new Texas leadership provided a notable impact on national policy that would forever change the role of the federal government and its relationship with states and local communities.  This eventful period marked the real beginning of modernization where Texas emerged as a more diverse state with changes in its economy, society, politics and culture.
The Progressive Era of the early twentieth century resulted in profound changes in Texas as well as the entire nation.  The social and economic reforms helped set the stage for the modernization of Texas and its emergence from the Southern sphere of influence.  Many of the changes sought during the Populist movement of the 1890’s began to take place even as the Populists as an organized force disappeared into the history books.  Farmers and rural residents gained from railroad regulation, an expanding economy and higher commodity prices.  Urban residents benefited from a growing population, better communications, transportation and public services.  Women and religious groups took center stage in putting forward an agenda of prohibition and reform.  However, the state’s minority population suffered legitimate setbacks as a result of progressive victories.  The state’s progressive leadership systematically excluded African Americans and Mexican Americans from participation and from nearly all benefits derived from social and economic changes.  Segregation in Texas became entrenched and a defined pattern of live throughout the state and largely remained in this stage until cracks began to appear in the New Deal and World War II era.  Racial segregation and conflict intensified in the early twentieth century.  Texas ranked third among all the states for lynching African Americans during this period.  Race riots erupted in the larger cities of Dallas and Houston and smaller cities in East Texas.   A number of progressives and religious organizations began to openly criticize the lawlessness and the lynchings.  The Dallas Morning News, the Houston Chronicle and the San Antonio Express began news coverage and editorials in protest of the violence.  Some of this reaction stemmed from concern in the growing urban business community and among religious leaders.  Concern rose over fear of harming the image of the communities to northern investors and business interests.
The war and the patriotic fervor that erupted in the nation was a godsend to advocates of the prohibition of alcohol and the women’s suffrage movements.  Prohibition supporters argued that alcohol was a waste of vital resources, a threat to American soldiers and was a tool of the German Kaiser.  On April 14, 1917, the day the U.S. declared war on Germany, U.S. Senator Morris Sheppard of Texas introduced the prohibition amendment to Congress.  Senator Sheppard said the war effort would be greatly improved “if the liquor traffic could be wiped out.”  At their fall convention, Texas Baptists renewed their hostility to liquor and called for a ban of alcohol around military camps “to protect our soldier boys against evils more deadly than all the horrors and carnage of the battlefields.”  Senator Sheppard won his battle as Congress passed the amendment in December 1917 and it was sent to the states for ratification.  Sheppard became nationally known as the “Father of National Prohibition.” 
Local campaigns by prohibition forces increased the pressure on local politicians.  Advocates linked their cause to the war and long-standing arguments of the social problems linked to alcohol abuse.  Prohibition ads proclaimed “More booze and fewer shoes.” The claimed liquor bestowed “Orphan Children, Corrupt Politics, More Divorces, Poverty” and other associated ills on society. Governor William P. Hobby announced in February 1917 that he supported a law to ban the sale of liquor within ten miles of any military base in the state.  Governor Hobby astutely noted the sanction “will make Texas practically dry.” At the same time, General J.W. Ruckman, the army commander of San Antonio, called for a ban on liquor and the legislature overwhelmingly approved the ban.  Lawmakers also ratified the prohibition amendment and passed legislation to curb prostitution near military bases.   
The women’s suffrage movement finally cleared a major hurdle.  (Photo of women suffragists courtesy of Smithsonian magazine.)  The special legislative session that voted for prohibition also approved a measure that allowed women the right to vote in primary elections.  Women voters turned out in large numbers in the 1918 Democratic Primary to re-elect Governor Hobby, now the male hero of the suffrage movement.  Hobby withstood a strong challenge from former Governor James Ferguson.  The following year the legislature approved the constitutional amendment granting women the right to vote.  According to historian Lewis Gould, World War I moved a majority of the state in favor of prohibition and played a deciding factor in the ultimate suffrage victory.  Dry progressive Democrats became the dominant political force in Texas politics for many years to come.  Alcohol remained a potent political issue for decades.  After he became president, Lyndon Johnson noted that most Texas elections for his generation were usually decided by two simple issues:  “All I heard was whether you were wet or dry, whether you were for the courthouse group or against them.”
Isolationist sentiment remained strong in Texas but changed significantly with the buildup and onset of World War I.  Germany’s submarine warfare created concern but Texans became were more concerned with German attempts to encourage Mexico to renew hostilities against the U.S. Germany was especially interested in keeping America out of the European war and became involved in the internal affairs of Mexico during its revolution. Violence along the Rio Grande and the political unrest during the prolonged revolution became major contributing factors to the U.S. entry into World War I.  While no monograph exists that focuses entirely on Texas and World War I, some studies exist that note the importance and the impact of the Great War on the state and its citizens.
The unrest along the Rio Grande with the Mexican Revolution of 1910-1920 increased federal involvement along the border.  The Mexican Revolution brought about many noteworthy changes in Texas during the early decades of the twentieth century.  Thousands of Mexican families sought refuge from the upheaval in Texas towns and cities and all along the border region of the Southwest.  With the increasing violence on the border, Texans for the first time since the Civil War sought protection with the presence of American troops.  The growing military presence established San Antonio as a permanent major headquarters and training facility.  The economic impact of the revolution also stimulated Texas businesses along the border.  As illustrated in the many recent publications, the attitudes of many Texans hardened towards Mexican Americans during this era.  This served to reinforce discriminatory attitudes and segregation that would prevail for generations.  
The prolonged military activity prepared the U.S. army for war. Texans gained valuable experience in working with large troop units with modern weapons.  A large number of Texans volunteered for military service and entered the draft. Over 989,000 men registered and nearly 200,000 enlisted and saw service during the war. Several hundred Texas women served as nurses during the war. One nurse and 5,170 men died in the service. Of these deaths, one third occurred in the U.S. as a result of the influenza epidemic of 1918. Four Texans received the Medal of Honor for service in the war.  
With the crash on Wall Street in October 1929, the vast majority of people in America and throughout Texas could not comprehend the economic and social storm that would descend in the 1930’s.  The popular President Herbert Hoover, in his first year of office after his resounding victory in 1928, also refused to recognize the problem.  Like most Americans, he believed that the economy was sound and that the market would correct itself.  Most Texas officials, business and civic leaders supported President Hoover’s views.  However, hard times quickly followed as the national economy sank faster than the Titanic and the nation’s once optimistic outlook dropped along with the disappearing wages and jobs.
Nearly two years after the Wall Street crash, every economic sector showed a decline. New construction disappeared completely in every Texas city and community.  Commodity prices dropped to nineteenth century levels. The oil industry continued to pump money and jobs into the state’s economy, but could not absorb all of the unemployed workers.   The discovery of oil in the great East Texas field in 1931 that drew people from Texas and surrounding states failed to offset growing unemployment. An estimated 10,000 laborers who traveled to the East Texas boom area could not find jobs. In Houston, where oil was stored, refined and shipped, nearly one in four remained out of work. “Hobo camps” popped up along the San Antonio River and other Texas communities. 
By 1931, the darkening economic clouds became even more menacing. Banks around the state began to close for lack of funds and from unsound investments.  Foreclosures of businesses and farms began to rise in 1931.  Also, in urban areas, layoffs began to increase as businesses reduced their payrolls and scaled back on production and services.  The Texas National Bank in Fort Worth closed its doors in January 1930 when it could not provide money to all of its depositors.   In September 1931, San Antonio’s City Central Bank and Trust Company failed. People remained nervous about their money in local banks.  Many hid money in mattresses and buried cash in jars behind their homes. 
Private charities and local governments began to meet some of the demands for relief and jobs, but could not come close to meeting the demands for the thousands of unemployed farm and city families.  The Red Cross, the Salvation Army, church organizations and other private groups announced by 1931 that they could not meet the basic needs for food, shelter and financial assistance.  As the depression increased its grip on the state and nation in the early 1930’s, people began to realize that private organizations, local governments and good intentions could not turn the economy around.  By the time the national election arrived in November 1932, Texans and the rest of the nation looked for a new leader to take on the Great Depression.
Democratic Presidential nominee Franklin Roosevelt promised a “New Deal” for Americans and won a sweeping victory in the 1932 presidential election.   His running mate was the longtime South Texas Congressman and House Speaker John Nance Garner.  At his inauguration, Roosevelt told the nation he would use the power of the federal government to “wage a war” against the depression.  The Roosevelt Administration immediately launched a massive effort to stimulate the nation’s economy and restore the people’s confidence in business and government.  These included an unprecedented number of federal programs aimed at combating the depression.
Next to President Roosevelt, Vice President John Nance Garner of Uvalde became the single most influential person man in the early New Deal years.  Garner’s political knowledge combined with the respect he held among his colleagues in the House of Representatives and the Senate was invaluable.  Following the customs of the era, Garner’s whiskey drinking and poker playing with his congressional colleagues helped lubricate the legislative process for the New Deal.
Garner stayed with FDR through the landslide victory of 1936. (Photo of John Nance Garner courtesy of the Briscoe Center for American History at the University of Texas at Austin.) However, the team divided over Garner’s criticism of expanding the New Deal, FDR’s ill-fated court-packing plan and the president’s opposition to many of Garner’s friends in the Senate and the House in the 1938 elections.  Garner opposed FDR’s effort to seek a third term and unsuccessfully sought the Democratic presidential nomination in 1940.  Garner left Washington in 1941 with a vow never to return to the nation’s capitol and a place where he had served for nearly forty years.  
The influence of the Texas congressional delegation and especially Garner’s protégé Sam Rayburn of Bonham, Texas provided vital support to the New Deal programs. From 1933 to 1938 no fewer than eight Texans held regular committee chairmanships and chaired two special committees. Rayburn became a key leader and House majority leader in 1937.  Because Garner knew the strengths and weaknesses of both houses he was able to push bills through or bury them.  He was, as one writer stated, "a mole rather than an eagle." A master at working individual Senators on the floor, he was the "wise old man of Congress." On most evenings after a legislative session Garner would convene his “Board of Education” where he held court over bourbon and branch water.  Rayburn learned invaluable lessons at those sessions and from Garner that would later move him into the House Speakership in 1939.  Rayburn also continued the “Board of Education” where he helped tutor his own protégé – Congressman Lyndon B. Johnson. 
In summary, many changes took place in Texas between 1900 and 1939 that influenced the growth, outlook, economy, society and culture of the state that defined modernization.  These were watershed decades in the formation of what would emerge is now recognized as more diverse Texas after World War II.  While much more research and analysis is needed on the people, places, issues and events of this era, educators and historians have provided a much more thorough understanding of this unique place we call Texas.

Featured Lesson

The Presidency and the Supreme Court have an important constitutional relationship. This lesson plan from the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library and Museum helps students gain an understanding of the struggles faced by executives of the United States when dealing with the judiciary branch through the use of primary sources. Students use document-based research techniques to better understand the roles of the presidency and of the Supreme Court since the Hoover administration. This lesson allows students to understand the executive and judicial branch relationship as the state level, as well. Visit TeachingTexas.org for more. 

Texas History News

Several opportunities for Texas history educators and students are available or are on the near horizon:

Join the Dallas Holocaust Museum Center for a special training in media curriculum on the Holocaust. This award-winning curriculum includes everything educators need to teach the complex issues of the Holocaust to today’s students, including primary sources, visual history testimony, modular curriculum design and a comprehensive web site. Visit TeachingTexas.org for additional information. 


Fort McKavett State Historic Site invites you to celebrate West Texas Heritage Days this May. With over 150 reenactors, infantry, artillery, and cavalry demonstrations, this is an event you do not want to miss.  This event will be a fantastic display of Army and frontier life. Education Day will be Friday May 6th and the event will be open to the public on the following Saturday. See TeachingTexas.org for more. 

To commemorate the Texas Revolution, from the first shot in Gonzales through the San Jacinto Battle, the Gonzales County Historical Commission is hosting the Texas Freedom Road Fest - complete with an old schoolhouse, blacksmith shop, tours of historic homes and activities for the entire family, including Texas history trivia. Join the activities on April 9th from 9am - 4pm. Visit TeachingTexas.org to join the fun.



Celebrate the anniversary of Texas Independence with the Friends of the San Jacinto Battleground as they present their annual San Jacinto Day Festival and Battle Reenactment, at the San Jacinto Monument, April 23, 2016. It provides entertainment, living history demonstrations, a children’s area and vendors reflecting all things Texas. The battle reenactment is one of the largest in Texas. Visit TeachingTexas.org for more.


The Portal to Texas History's new digital resources includes new primary source audio visual resources. KXAS was the first television station in Texas and the Southwest when it signed on as WBAP-TV on September 27, 1948. It is an NBC owned station in Fort Worth which serves the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. Presented by the UNT Archives, this collection features photographs, video, and scripts from news stories produced by the station during its early years. To learn more, visit TeachingTexas.org.


Join the George Ranch Historical Park as they recreate the Runaway Scrape.  This event recreates the fleeing of the Texians from Santa Anna’s army marching east towards San Jacinto. The event will take place on April 9, 2016 in Houston.  Visit TeachingTexas.org for additional information.




The Texas Archive of the Moving Image’s new Texas Lumber Industry lessons highlight the work of lumberjacks and millworkers, as well as the benefits of the paper industry, the need for conscientious timber stewardship, and the importance of lumber to the Texas economy. Using videos showing different aspects of lumber production and outside research from their textbooks and reference websites, students will analyze and compare depictions of the lumber industry. For more, visit TeachingTexas.org.


Visit a website project of the National Endowment for the Humanities, Edsitement, which offers humanities-focused educational materials to students, teachers, and parents. Subject areas include history and social studies, literature and language arts, art and culture, and foreign languages. See TeachingTexas.org for more.


Texas Insights is a publication of the Texas State Historical Association
in cooperation with the University of Texas.

Texas State Historical Association
3001 Lake Austin Blvd., Ste. 3.116
Austin, TX 78703

Stephen Cure - Editor
 Caitlin McColl- Associate Editor


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