Seeking Inalienable Rights: Texans and Their Quests for Justice

Seeking Inalienable Rights: Texans and Their Quests for Justice

Seeking Inalienable Rights: Texans and Their Quests for Justice

Seeking Inalienable Rights: Texans and Their Quests for Justice


Seeking Inalienable Rights demonstrates that the history of Texans' quests to secure inalienable rights and expand government-protected civil rights has been one of stops and starts, successes and failures, progress and retrenchment. Inside This Book:

"Early Organizing in the Search for Equality African American Conventions in Late Nineteenth-Century Texas"-Alwyn Barr, Texas Tech University

"Crucial Decade for Texas Labor: Railway Union Struggles, 1886-1896"-George N. Green, University of Texas at Arlington

"Racism and Sexism in Rural Texas: The Contested Nature of Progressive Rural Reform, 1870s-1910s" -Debra A. Reid, Eastern Illinois University

"Fighting on the Home Front: The Rhetoric of Woman Suffrage in World War I"-James Seymour, Lone Star College, Cy Fair

"Contrasts in Neglect: Progressive Municipal Reform in Dallas and San Antonio"-Patricia E. Gower, University of the Incarnate Word

"Religious Moderates and Race: The Texas Christian Life Commission and the Call for Racial Reconciliation, 1954-1968"-David K. Chrisman, University of Mary Hardin-Baylor

"Elusive Unity: African Americans, Mexican Americans, and Civil Rights in Houston"-Brian D. Behnken, Iowa State University

"Chicanismo and the Flexible Fourteenth Amendment: 1960s Agitation and Litigation by Mexican American Youth in Texas"-Steven Harmon Wilson, Tulsa Community College

This insightful discussion will appeal to those interested in African American, Hispanic, labor, and gender history.


Debra A. Reid

When John Brooks Porter, a farmer and businessman in Terrell, Texas, died in 1917, his obituary described him as “liberal, broad minded, his leadership was always desired.” He earned such accolades for his service in the Confederate army, the fortune he amassed as a Texas farmer and businessman, his regular attendance at the Methodist church, and his financial investments as a stockholder in the First National Bank of Terrell. Yet, others may not have agreed that Porter “commanded the unstinted respect of everyone who knew him,” as the obituary claimed. in fact, many resented white male authority and the political and economic influence often associated with it, and not all Texans accepted the inequality that resulted from it. After the Civil War, Texans increased their efforts to ensure government protection of their personal liberty as well as their “class,” defined by their economic situation, race, sex, or ethnicity. Porter, for example, enjoyed personal liberty as a white male head of an elite household in the New South. Ironically, others often suffered an individual or collective loss in the wake of such success. Seeking Inalienable Rights explores how selected Texans pursued their rights by contrasting the ideal of personal liberty in a capitalist society with the reality of the price that others paid for rights expansion.

Texas historians Robert A. “Bob” Calvert and Arnoldo De León believed that “the state’s two most prominent ethnic minorities: African Americans and Mexican Americans,” began the civil rights movement but that “organized campaigns…were not launched until the early twentieth century.” Seeking Inalienable Rights pushes the start of rights campaigns earlier, into the post–Civil War time period, and broadens the concept of “organized” campaigns to include efforts of men and women who allied within classes and sought political and professional influence and economic opportunity, in addition to government protection of defined rights.

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