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Texas, Our Texas

Going back to our debate about how we see Texas as part of the south or not, I have a few things I wanted to bring up that I think might influence that perception. For one thing, like Ch. 10 of Empire of Slavery says, all in all less than a third of Texans actually owned slaves. Most of the people who decided to move to Texas weren’t those wealthy enough to afford to set up massive plantations. They were usually the ones being driven out of business by the productivity of the plantations. Texas offered them an opportunity for cheap land and a less competitive market for their wares. If they were “dirty” as Olmsted points out, its because they didn’t come from money and didn’t live in a place where there was a lot of financial activity going on in the first place. Olmsted’s northern perception of work ethic forgets the remoteness of most of Texas from many economic prospects readily available in the much smaller realm of New England.

 

Another reason I think we don’t necessarily consider Texas part of the South is that it recovered better than the rest of the South in the Reconstruction period. Texas had an industry besides cotton to fall back on financially: cattle. The cattle business boomed in Texas in the latter part of the 19th century and well into the 20th, providing a much needed cash flow into Texas communities. And when that began to flat line, there was Black Gold: oil. While our neighbors still struggled with the economic ramifications of emancipation and Yankee government, Texas was a young enough state to soldier on and build a new life from the ashes of the old one.

 

The question that bugged me was “Do we ‘glorify’ Texas?” I don’t really know. I think to a certain extent, we do, especially with the whole “Bigger in Texas” mentality. But I think something we need to remember is that there’s usually a grain of truth in this sort of mythos. Maybe I’ve been brain-washed by a family of loyal Texans and a Texas public education, but Texas is one of the most diverse states in the nation. Despite its annoyingly conservative political leanings, the population growth speaks to the fact that it’s not such a bad place to live. I don’t know that we’ve necessarily glorified Texas and its past as much as focused on the period where we created our own identity as a state rather than being defined by the o

 

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Categories: Uncategorized
  1. February 8, 2011 at 4:07 pm

    Pretty Miss Taylor, you bring up an excellent point about the cattle economy which I had not really considered. Your depiction of Texas is particularly interesting to me because I simply didn’t expect it of you — I’m not saying it’s a bad perception by any means, just interesting. I agree with you almost totally here, especially in pointing out the almost misguided way in which Olmsted seems to compare Texans and Texas culture with the rest of the country’s which, at that time, really wasn’t a fair comparison. Of course, you know that I’m not what one would call a Texas fan, (and it’s not simply that I’m from North Carolina) but I really do think we attempt to “glorify” Texas today as a means of justifying a great deal of the initial laziness, thievery, and murder that went on in order to “found” Texas — similarly to how the rest of the South attempted to glorify themselves as aristocratic in order to justify the use of slavery (and similarly now to how they attempt to justify the use of slavery for economic reasons) — I think we as a part of the Texas culture, simply don’t want to have to deal with the guilt and continued injustices that go on due to the methods utilized to “found” Texas.

    What do you think? I don’t think Texas is a “bad place to live” either, (and I don’t mean to pick on you, babe, I’m just curious to your thoughts on this because I respect them) I just think it depends on your race and sexual orientation on how bad or not bad a place Texas can be.

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