Modernity in Texas
Modernity describes the period between 1870-1960. Any discussion about modernity depends on the context under discussion. It may refer to people in history who are associated with the rise in the nation-state, political difference tolerance, industrialization and urbanization, literacy of masses, mass media proliferation, and the increasing contribution of machinery and science in societal developments. From these contexts, in 1905, Texas was viewed as being at the start of its ‘modern’ age, which is ironic, considering the number of things it had not changed since 1845.
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The industrialization has an important role, especially the creation of job opportunities, which attract people to live in urban areas (urbanization). This phenomenon requires the availability of energy resources to drive industrial operations. This development encompasses one of the reasons why 1905 is regarded as the initiation of the modern age in Texas. This year, Texas experienced a boom in oil production. The fossil fuel was not only necessary to drive industrial development, but also acted as a source of employment. Nevertheless, this situation was ironic. Instead of urbanizing, Texas people continue to obtain their livelihood from the woodland. They obtained the wild game, domesticated animals, and carried out farming in their garden plots and open fields. The arrival of the railroad to Forth Worth was expected to prepare Texas for modernization in the 1900s, which was not yet the case until 1905.
Modernity is associated with a rise in people’s fundamental freedom. However, Texas people retained many of the privileges that other people, including black folks, would enjoy to realize a fully modernized society. For example, by 1905, Texas was already a frontier region. All Aglo-Texans had their hegemony. The “railroads and other technologies linked Texans together while connecting Texas to the world market” (Bell 211). However, the frontier left-wing people retaining their late 1800s legacies, high self-assurance, elevated sense of independence, and reserve of power. In 1905, the left-wing retained its well-renowned legacy of haughtiness and high insatiability, which reduced the probability of equal distribution of wealth.
Besides, violence and wasteful cultures also characterized the left-wing. Women had also not made any significant progress by 1905. They could not own, control land, or participate in meaningful paid labor. Their chores were mainly domestic, including bringing up children. By 1905, many Texans retained their traditional artifacts, including language. Since modernization marks a period in history in which various societies begin to come together to drive the economic success of different nations, it is ironic that 1905 is considered the year that marked the modern age for Texas. For instance, before then, Mexican-Americans living in Texas still adhered to their traditional language observation of secular holidays while at the same time maintaining their familial structures and foods.
Drastic reform, mainly the government of Edmund J. Davis, a Republican superintendent for Texas, has been condemned in the past hundred years. Edmund who was the governor of Texas advocated civil rights for all people. He was particularly interested in ensuring that African-Americans acquired their rights, especially equality. He continued with this fight until he died in 1896. Edmund belonged to the radical reconstruction Republican wing. This wing held that Blacks were entitled to equal political rights and government opportunities. As Moneyhon asserts, “confederate leaders should be punished for their roles in the Civil War” (337). These two subjects attracted various criticisms.
The representatives of Pennsylvania, namely, Stevens Thaddeus together with Senator Summer, incredibly criticized lenient policies that had been established by Andrew Jonson. This situation indicated an ensuing political battle concerning the positions taken by radical reconstruction Republicans. Since the rights of the blacks were not anywhere near the spheres of America, there emerged criticism that the federal government had unchecked roles in controlling the affairs of the nation. The radical reconstruction Republicans held to the position that people were invited extraordinarily to take direct intervention in the affairs of the states, including establishing rules and regulations for protecting emancipated Blacks. At the epicenter of radical reconstruction, Republicans were that Blacks required chances to participate in free labor.
The ideas of Edmund, which were supported by other radical reconstruction, Republicans, received criticism even from President Johnson. However, the idea would soon become legitimate. In 1867, the legislative body amended the US Charter, with a particular interest in the fourth amendment, which prohibited “states from abridging equality before the law” (Moneyhon 339). Over the years, the outcome of this move turned out to give Blacks suffrage rights and better political space to air their views on matters of the nation and its administration.
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Failure of Third Parties to Dislodge the Democratic Party from Power in Texas
Third parties struggled immensely to challenge the dominance of Democrats in political power. Democrats preoccupied their agenda in handling the challenge of prohibition, regulation of railroads, and policies of land and its use among other issues. In the 19th-century, politics in Texas mainly revolved around urban economics, rural money matters, and tribal issues. Hence, Democrats did not emphasize issues of race and sectional matters that are associated with reconstruction politics. Their focus on diverse matters limited their possibility of developing specific solutions with an exception of setting railroad commission. Nevertheless, third-party initiatives for challenging the Democrats did not yield fruits, despite attempting to focus on specific concerns for Texas people. Consequently, this failure may be interpreted to mean that Texans were more concerned with diverse issues that influenced their collective development. Such issues were only important in the eyes of dominating the white race.
Populists and green backers’ failure to dislodge Democrats from power could be explained by the continued clinging on policies that do not favor equal participation of all people, amid their ethnical or racial background in shaping the political landscape of Texas. The autonomous regime in Texas guaranteed massive control through the exploration of disfranchising policies that targeted Blacks, Latinos, and poor Whites. This agenda was accomplished through imposing poll tax and white primaries. Although associate states also participated in this move, the exclusion that lasted until the 1960s only created opportunities for well-off whites to participate in mass exercising of suffrage. Since the policies of the Democrats were popular among this class, which was opposed by Populist Party and Green Backers, failure of third parties such as the Green Backers and the Populists to dislodge the Democratic Party from power in Texas in the late nineteenth century may be explained in terms of power dominance among the socioeconomic elite citizenry.
Jim Hogg and Fergusons
Jim Hong, a reformist in the politics of Texas, was a highly popular person who enjoyed strong support from small farmers (Maxwell and Adolf 5). Even before his governorship, Hogg was known to fight for the rights of the common people. He was nominated in the 1890s convention for Democrats as its candidate, despite opposition from business class and politically powerful people. During the campaigns, the main issue revolved around the establishment of a commission for regulating railroads. However, Hogg addressed this agenda not only with precision but also with passion. People ultimately gave him a clear victory (Maxwell and Adolf 5). Governor Hogg was successful since he won in matters that required litigation or seeking public support. This success gave him credibility as Texas’ preferred governor. Indeed, through his leadership in the 1900s, the legislature established programs that succeeded in identifying Texas as a leading and advancing state. The state was an important benchmark pioneer for child labor policies, employment plans, including abuse of employees, railroad strategies, and monopoly regulations (Maxwell and Adolf 6).
Ferguson was highly sensitive to various issues and interests of the business class in Texas. Unlike Hogg, he did not encounter resistance from this class of people. Ferguson identified himself with the tenant farmers (Maxwell and Adolf 7). Although financial irregularities surrounded his administration, he was re-elected in 1916. His second term continued to face credibility issues such as bribery. He declared war on Texas University by calling for the appropriation of the whole institution. This situation led to legal battles that resulted in his conviction in 1917 followed by his removal from office. Comparing the two individuals, Jim Hog was popular and more successful since he was a credible leader while Ferguson was found guilty for misappropriating state resources, including his depositing of state money into Temple Bank that he owned to some extent.
Importance of the Oil Industry to the Coming of the 20th Century to Texas
Texas rose in January 1901 after the discovery of oil. It was clear that Texas would begin the new century with a clear indication of the oncoming prosperity. Petroleum now displaced the dominant agriculture that drove Texas’ economic success. Hence, the lives of Texans would be more advanced compared to the railroad situation. Corporate development, the rising corporate wealth, and personal developments revealed the importance of oil to Texans. Oil enhanced the states and Texas’ politics. It affected people from whom the land oil was extracted, including those who participated in its extraction and processing. Oil was the key driver to the flourishing and growing success of small towns in Texas. Oil trading companies were established. Today, such companies are global conglomerates.
Oil not only influenced positively those who were involved in its business directly but also other people in Texas. While those involved directly in the oil business received paychecks and/or loyalties from petroleum, the culture of Texas was changed to ensure the transformation of Texans beyond what could be observed from a casual eye. For example, it increased government revenues. More resources were allocated even in areas that did not have oil reserves. These funds were deployed in infrastructure development to promote better mobility and accessibility to other public goods, including education and health. For example, when oil was discovered in west Burkburnett, an oil boom fever grew rapidly.
Small towns near oil fields grew sporadically. Such towns’ infrastructure could not accommodate the expulsion of new populations. The towns did not have accommodation facilities for the sudden exploration of populations. Newcomers were forced to live in temporary shelters such as tents and cars. Queues were commonplace in post-offices and other facilities such as cafes. These changes were important. They led to the development of small towns to meet the needs of new incoming populations.
Racism in the Early 20th-Century Texas
Issues of civil rights, including living without racism in Texas, revolved around ethnic minorities, especially Mexican and African-Americans. African-Americans made incredible success since 1865 after the emancipation of slavery (Bell 205). Similarly, Mexican-Americans acquired significant political improvements since the era of Anglo-American domination. However, systemized and organized campaigns were not available to fight against racism until the beginning of the 20th-century. Indeed, soon after the revolution of Texas, the main action revolved around racism. This situation explains why the early years of the 20th-century were often described as the lowest point in race relations in Texas.
In 1902, the Texas legislature enacted the poll-tax policy into law. During the following year, the democratic regime implemented the White Primary. This move led to severe disfranchising of Texas’ racial minorities (Mexican American and the Blacks). Instigators of the enlightenment era regarded these racially marginalized groups as posing a besmirched control on Texas’ government affairs. Indeed, in the late 1920s, politicians, mainly dominated by the White race, had demobilized African-Texans by ensuring that they did not have suffrage rights.
This goal was accomplished by legal suits that sought a declaration of political parties that comprised privately-owned organizations that had the capability of excluding some people from membership. Bell estimates that only less than 40, 000 Blacks out of over 160, 000 Black-Texans voters had their franchise civil rights in place in the late 1920s (208). In the 20th-century, Newer Jim Crow regulations were enacted. The laws had an impact of increasing discrimination of Black immigrants who only joined their black counterparts in ghettoes as their residential places after immigrating to towns in search of greener pastures following the booming of oil production. The law presented Mexican-Americans as inferior and highly unhygienic people. Such laws increased racial stereotyping for cultural minorities.
Bell, Walter. “Civil War Texas: A Review of the Historical Literature.”Southwestern Historical Quarterly 109.3(2005): 205–232. Print.
Maxwell, William, and Ernest Adolf. Texas Politics Today, Texas: Wadsworth Publishing, 2010. Print.
Moneyhon, Carl. Edmund J. Davis of Texas: Civil War General, Republican Leader, Reconstruction Governor, Texas: Texas Christian University Press, 2010. Print.