The conservative Democratic rule discussed in Chapter 12 of Richardson et al.’s Texas: The lone star state was frugal and lacked wide public support. While it may have resolved some of the public debt issues, many Texans felt left behind and demanding socioeconomic reform, particularly the farmers. This led to the rise of the Populist Party and movement which sought to eliminate economic inequities. This progressive party embraced the importance of industrialization and urbanization, but with a strong rural influence, concerned not only with social equity but regulation of businesses and other humanitarian and social reforms. The People’s Party was formed before the election of 1892 as a widespread disgruntlement with the Democrats who have attempted by various means to quiet criticism and discontent. The Populists were a comprehensive reform movement, a culmination of all the issues that were bothering the population. It was more than a political platform but a social attitude, reflecting across followers of all parties.
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Nevertheless, the weak adoption of Populism as an official party and internally fighting Republicans resulted in Democratic conservative rule between 1898 and 1906. With the initial Populist fire after Governor Hogg had subdued and many were distracted by the Spanish American War. However, the Democrats learned some lessons, and the Texan legislation passed several key laws such as protecting labor, supporting organized labor, and implementation of working hours limitations. Some tax reform was achieved as well, targeting industries rather than households, and there was also a reorganization of the state election system to prevent abuses. In the 1906 gubernatorial race, Thomas Campbell came to power as a progressive candidate, supported by powerful interest groups. Major progressive reform was achieved for social, fiscal, tax, and insurance aspects and industries. Regulation was greatly strengthened for businesses along with antitrust restrictions. Campbell also devoted time to social problems, such improvements to financing of education, improvement of roads, and prison reform (Richardson et al., 2010). The two primary ideas of the chapter are widespread discontent with Democratic governance and the rise of the Populist (People’s) political platform.
Richardson, R. N., Anderson, A., Wintz, C. D., & Wallace, E. (2010). Texas: The lone star state (10th ed). Routledge.