The Establishment in Texas Politics: The Primitive Years, 1938-1957

The Establishment in Texas Politics: The Primitive Years, 1938-1957

The Establishment in Texas Politics: The Primitive Years, 1938-1957

The Establishment in Texas Politics: The Primitive Years, 1938-1957

Synopsis

"Green's is not only the best (and nearly the only) work on this period of Texas politics (1938-1957) but a fine piece of scholarship. It is sensitive to changing political trends and cultural values.... The book should be acquired by all academic libraries for undergraduate reading and advanced research." - Choice

Excerpt

State political histories about recent times have not received much attention from professional historians. Most historians are not very interested in state history, and, perhaps, the political histories of many states are not very interesting. Necessary primary records are also doubtless unavailable in some states. Texas, however, with its history of producing nationally prominent leaders and with its burgeoning population and natural resources, is important: as states go, and few would argue that its politics are not fascinating. Also a wealth of primary resource materials has been opened in the state during the past several years.

Since some of the forces that enmesh to create Texas's political history are unique, this work probably cannot be considered a case study. Yet the Texas political scene from 1938 to 1957 was similar to that of several of its smaller southern brethren. The Lone Star state's political performance during those crucial years appears to constitute one of the more monumental failures of states' rights in the twentieth-century South. By the end of the period Texas was drifting out of the southern orbit.

During an earlier time, roughly between Reconstruction and World War II, corporate interest groups were forced to share the Texas political limelight with reform movements and a few colorful politicians. In the late 1930s, however, the corporations got a grip on the state that they have yet to relinquish. Texans have voted for an unbroken line of conservative governors and legislatures since 1939, a political history probably unparalleled in the nation. The 1938 to 1957 period marked the most primitive phase of this Establishment rule, reflected in numerous and harsh antilabor laws, the suppression of academic freedom, a segregationist philosophy, elections marred by demagoguery and corruption, the devolution of the daily press, and a state government that offered its citizens, especially the minorities, very few services. The Establishment, a loosely knit plutocracy of the Anglo upper classes, were induced to modify the harsher features of their control after the elections of 1956 and 1957. Since then conservative hegemony has been more relaxed and mature than in the earlier epoch.

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