Texas in the Confederacy: An Experiment in Nation Building

By Clayton E. Jewett | Go to book overview

Conclusion

Historians concentrating on the formation of central state authority and the creation of a Southern nation have posited that the adoption of a constitution, the organizational structures of the Confederacy, and the centralizing tendencies to conduct a war all point to the formation and at least temporary success of a new nation. They have often assumed, however, that citizens automatically looked to the Confederate government for the protection of their rights and liberties. When closely examining the local response to war and the intricate process of nation building, the pattern of Texas politics and the actions of citizens from the Lone Star State reveal that Texas defined, established, secured, and implemented a political and economic identity separate from that of other Confederate states. This development transpired out of the desire for economic security.

The definition of a separate identity emerged in the secession crisis as politicians and ordinary citizens defined their economic interests through political action. Political speeches from pro- and antisecessionist politicians provided the fundamental basis for defining a separate political and economic identity based upon the desire for economic security. Political necessity forced politicians to base their arguments on a constitutional foundation. They quickly moved to provide a social and economic justification for and against secession. Prosecessionist politicians also discussed the fear of abolition and a right to slavery, and railed against the Republican Party and an encroaching federal government. Political arguments also relied on Texas's history as a separate republic and accepted annexation into the United States for economic security. Antisecessionists, though more cautious of the ramifications of secession, expressed similar issues and fears as prosecessionists. They did not necessarily support the Union per se, so much as the commercial interests of the state. Taken together, political speeches not only reflected the ordinary values of the citizenry, but also revealed a deep concern for material well-being.

The definition of a separate identity rested not only on the shoulders of Texas politicians, but also on the actions of Texas citizens. Extrapolitical

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