Academic journal article The Journal of Southern History

The U.S. Army and the Texas Frontier Economy, 1845-1900

Academic journal article The Journal of Southern History

The U.S. Army and the Texas Frontier Economy, 1845-1900

Article excerpt

The U.S. Army and the Texas Frontier Economy, 1845-1900. By Thomas T. Smith. Texas A&M University Military Series, No. 65. (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, c. 1999. Pp. xii, 307. $34.95, ISBN 0-89096-882-9.)

Texas has provided a signal number of military officers and enlisted men over the course of its history, including war heroes such as Audie Murphy and Macario Garcia, but, according to this tightly written and reasoned treatise, the state has gotten as good as it gave in the form of economic largess from the U.S. government. Thomas T. Smith, an army officer on active duty at Fort Bliss, successfully develops two themes in The U.S. Army and the Texas Frontier Economy, 1845-1900: first, that the military's spending yielded civilian rewards far beyond the boundaries of a few garrison towns; and, second, that Texas's political leaders aligned themselves with the War Department to produce revenues of at least $70 million over the fifty-five-year period under study. The author implicitly refutes the legend of rugged individualism espoused by professional Texans and demonstrates a continuity of policy with implications for scholarship in the areas of Reconstruction and Bourbon Democracy. Each of the two major themes enhances previous contributions, the former building upon local and regional studies, and the latter supporting theses advanced by historian Robert Wooster.

Rather than a "military-industrial complex," a term that has carried negative connotations ever since President Eisenhower's farewell address four decades ago, Smith instead refers to the "military-commercial" cooperative in Texas (p. 174). He views this earlier arrangement between the government and small-scale industry in essentially favorable terms. …

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