Texas: The Late Nineteenth Century
The Late Nineteenth Century
Reconstruction in Texas ended in 1874 when the Democrats took control of the government. The following decade was politically conservative, highlighted by the passage of the constitution of 1876, which, although frequently amended, remains the basic law of the state. As in the rest of the South, the war and Reconstruction had resulted in the breakdown of the plantation system and the rise of tenant farming. This did not, however, have as marked an effect as elsewhere, partly because much of the land was still unsettled, but in greater measure, perhaps, because the Texas tradition is only partly Southern.
In the decades following the Civil War the Western element in Texas was strengthened as stock raising became a dominant element in Texas life. This was the era of the buffalo hunter and of the last of the Native American uprisings. From the open range and then from great fenced ranches, Texas cowboys drove herds of longhorn cattle over trails such as the Chisholm Trail to the railheads in Kansas and even farther to the grasslands of Montana. The traditional symbols of Texas are more the “ten-gallon” hat, the cattle brand, and spurs and saddles than anything reminiscent of the Old South.
As railroads advanced across the state during the 1870s, farmlands were increasingly settled, and the small farmers (the “nesters”) came into violent conflict with the ranchers, a conflict which was not resolved until the governorship of John Ireland. Many European immigrants—especially Germans and Bohemians (Czechs)—took part in the peopling of the plains (they continued to arrive in the 20th cent., when many Mexicans also entered). Agrarian discontent saw the rise of the Greenback party, and during the 1880s demands for economic reform and limitation of the railroads' vast land domains were championed by the Farmers' Alliance and Gov. James S. Hogg. However, antitrust legislation was insufficient to curb the power of big business.
Sections in this article:
- Industry in the Late Twentieth Century
- Oil, Industrialization, and World Wars
- The Late Nineteenth Century
- Civil War and Reconstruction
- The Texas Republic and U.S. Annexation
- Independence from Mexico
- American Expeditions and Settlement
- Spanish Exploration and Colonization
- Government, Politics, and Higher Education
- Places of Interest
- West Texas
- High Plains
- Blackland Prairies
- Rio Grande Valley
- Gulf Coast
- East Texas
- Facts and Figures
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