THE GILDED AGE IN TEXAS 1876-91
Under the Constitution of 1876, the Democrats controlled state politics, and conservative governors were regularly elected until 1890. Even though incipient reform movements, like the Greenback party and the Farmers' Alliance, emerged amid economic and social problems, the Democrats dominated because of their willingness to coopt some of the reformers' programs and the weakened state of the Republican party. The state's finances were in a shambles at the end of Reconstruction and improved only slightly during the following decade as a result of land sales. Public land administration, in fact, became one of the main issues debated by Democratic politicians during this period.
Two other developments during this period were important as well. Threats from Native Americans on the frontier and crime were both brought under control by the efforts of the Texas Rangers, local vigilantes, and the courts; and the state finally began to develop a nascent