Describe the effect of Reconstruction on Texas. How did the Union victory change the way Texans--both black and white--live?
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When news reached Texas of the fall of the Confederacy, it didn't have the same affect as it did in other states. Far removed from most of the fighting, Texas suffered little damage and so the visible effects of Reconstruction were harder to see. Slaves in the state did celebrate the first Juneteenth, a day that commemorated the emancipation of slaves after the war.
Trade was severely disrupted during the war, and when veterans returned home to find the states economy in disarray, a period of intense lawlessness and violence broke out. Outlaws began raiding the northern part of the state, killing both pro-Union Republicans and southern sympathizing Democrats. President Johnston finally sent a Union General, AJ Hamilton to put an end to the killing. Despite a good effort on the part of Republicans from the state, Texas did not meet all the Reconstruction-era requirements for a return to statehood, but was still re-admitted to the Union in 1870.
Like most southern states, Democrats took control and began pushing a white supremacist agenda through the state government. Those who spoke out were taken out by paramilitary groups such as the KKK and the Knights of the White Camellia. Schools were segregated and eventually poll taxes and literacy tests were also passed.
Texas's post-war Reconstruction was very much like most other Southern states, minus the extensive property destruction.
Economically Texas became a center of the growing beef trade after the civil war. Prior to 1880, cattle were driven the stockyards of the midwest, but by 1880 the railroads had made transportation cheaper and infinitely faster. Cotton also expanded in Texas as rail made the trip to the ports like Galveston quicker by a factor of 8.
To try and build up its infrastructure, the state authorized the sale of public lands under the Morill Act, which helped open two famous universities, Texas A&M and the University of Texas at Austin in 1876 and 1883 respectively. Private land owners, feeling threatened by the sudden shift in public lands to private hands, began fencing their ranges, which led to many range wars that pitted cattle barons against local municipalities. The most famous of these was the Johnson County War.
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