A Southern Family in White & Black: The Cuneys of Texas

By Douglas Hales | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 5
Party and Patronage

“WE CANNOT HOPE TO MAINTAIN OUR INTEGRITY, as we all who love our country would wish to do, by evading our honest obligations.” Wright Cuney made this statement in his last speech before a Republican state convention. He referred to the obligations of government and men to meet their responsibilities in government and in life. Cuney died just months afterward, with his integrity intact. For fourteen years he had ably led his party. A man of immense political talents, Cuney believed he had an obligation to protect the political rights of other African Americans. He also loved politics and the give and take involved in the political process. Had Cuney not been black, he might have won election to a high office. While his skin color precluded elective position, the inauguration of Benjamin Harrison as president gave him an opportunity to secure the appointment of collector of customs at Galveston. No other African American would achieve such an important domestic appointment in the late-nineteenth-century South. As the last decade of his life revealed, Cuney continued to face immense political challenges both from within his own party and from outside. When he chose to support a loyal friend, William Allison, for the 1896 Republican presidential nomination over William McKinley, Cuney’s opponents forced him out of the party leadership. Until that time he had repelled white attacks while maintaining the African American role in the Republican Party1

Following Harrison’s election, Lily Whites feared Cuney would become more powerful and influential then ever before. They began to form their local white clubs into a statewide organization. The Lily White

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A Southern Family in White & Black: The Cuneys of Texas
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Illustrations vii
  • Preface ix
  • Acknowledgments xiii
  • Chapter 1 - Politician and Slaveholder 3
  • Chapter 2 - Labor and Civic Leader 15
  • Chapter 3 - Political Education, 1869–83 40
  • Chapter 4 - New Leader of the Party 60
  • Chapter 5 - Party and Patronage 77
  • Chapter 6 - Maud Cuney 94
  • Chapter 7 - Musician, Director, Writer 108
  • Chapter 8 - Conclusion 138
  • Notes 143
  • Bibliography 163
  • Index 169
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