BRAINPOWER Over $133 Million /Jib jnidit4ttie\(1 INSURANCE COMPANY P. 0. Box 8098 Houston, Texas HAROLD E. RILEY Vice-President and Director of Agencies ,Insurance In Force ing it.” I suppose I feel somewhat like that about books. I suppose, too, that only a booklover could understand why musty old books should arouse such enthusiasm. Certainly only a love of books could provide the patience required of a bookhunter. It was Andrew Lang who wrote: “In torrid heats of late July, In March, beneath the bitter bise, He bookhunts while the loungers fly He bookhunts, through December freeze, In breeches baggy at the knees, And heedless of the public jeers For these, for these, he hoards his fees, Aldines, Bodonis, Elzevirs.” NOT LONG AGO an old worn” an walked up to me and handed me a battered old volume, saying: “Here, you gather such as this.” In her hand she held a book I knew to be worth $50. I had heard that, upon the death of his parents, her husband had inherited the old family homestead. I asked her if she had any more old books. “Oh! sure!” she said. “We had an attic full of that junk but we burned it all. Such trash!” Herbert Fletcher, a bookseller and publisher who ran away from customers in. Houston, Texas, and “BOW” WILLIAMS Automobile and General Insurance Budget Payment Plan Strong Stock Companies GReenwood 2-0545 624 LAMAR, AUSTIN Let’s Abolish the Poll Tax! THE PERFECT SYSTEM WAS IN SMITHEREENS AUSTIN The notion that the early Texans, the settlers who came here before or during the Republic of Texas, were imbued with the culture of the Old South, and especially with the idea of an aristocratic society built on slavery after the pattern. long established in Virginia and South Carolina and in a narrow wedge of North Carolina and of Georgiahowever widespread, and blessed by respectable pedagogues, is not well founded. The early Texans, most of them, were Americans of the frontier, the Old West. It does not matter that most of them were born in slave-holding states. The only road to Texas that a poor man could take, even a New England Yankee, was a wilderness trail or a river, winding through or touching on a thousand miles and more of the slave-holding region. His children, likely enough, would be born in this region; likely enough they would take an uncritical view of slavery. Pioneer families moved ceaselessly, but not often in a straight line. It sometimes took several generations for one of them to get from Pennsylvania or Virginia to Texas. Vast jagged sections of Indian lands blocked the way through the Gulf states in Georgia’ until the 1830’s, in Alabama and Mississippi until the 1840’s. These were then frontier states, part of the Old West. The Old South, the plantation system of Virginia and Carolina, moved into Alabama and Mississippi along the rivers. The planters had barely begun to prosper in their new homes when the panic of 1837 struck them. With heavy debts hanging over them, many of these aristocrats opted to depart between suns, taking IS OUR MOST VITAL RESOURCE! You can’t dig education out e the earth. There’s only one place where business and industry can get the educated men and women so vitally needed for future progress. That’s from our colleges and universities. Today these institutions are doing their best to meet the need. But they face a crisis. The demand for brains is increasing fast, and so is the pressure e college applications. More money must be raised each year to expand is:aides ‘bring faculty salaries up to an adequate standardprovide a sound education for the young people who need and deserve it. As a practical business measure, help the colleges or universities of your choicenow! The returns will be greater than you think If you wont to know what the caws aish means to you, wise for free booklet to HIGHER EDUCATION, Box 36, Times Square Stades, New Yoric 36, New Yost. Shaw Transportation Company, Inc. E.. P. SHAW, PRESIDENT Houston,. Texas their slaves to fresh fields farther west. Whatever his individual reasons, the planter as a class began arriving in force soon after Texas entered the Union. He remained weak in numbers, but grew in power until his political pressure was tremendous. Hardin R. Runnels, a planter from Mississippi, ran for re-election as governor in 1859 on a platform advocating secession from the Union. Louis T. Wigfall was elected U. S. senator on the same platform despite furious diatribes against him by Sam Houston, who was elected governor. Wigfall was a Southern politician of the fire-eating type. A native of South Carolina, he killed his man there in a duel and was bawling for secession before he came to Texas, in 1848. He set up shop as a lawyer in Marshall, which has ever been a nest of oddball politicians. He horrified the Senate with intemperate and bloodthirsty speeches. In the Civil War, which he, did all he could to bring on, he continued his -dissident role, clamoring for states’ rights even in the Confederate senate. After the war he fled the country, returning to Galveston only to die. There are, it seems, no monuments to his memory. Striking proof of the infiltration of professional men from the Old South is shown by the census report op the roomers, mostly transients, at the only hotel in Richmond, Texas, in 1860. Of 12 in the list, there are five lawyers and two doctors, all young fellows from Virginia, plus two nondescript Virginians. THE COTTON plantations worked by Negro slaves, on the rich alluvial bottoms of the Brazos and Colorado Rivers, grew wealthier with each year during the decade just before the debacle. Some of the richest bottoms are in Fort Bend County, on both sides of the Brazos, adjoining and west of Harris County \(and the given the second highest tax assessment in Texas \(the highest lation, 2,016, had more than doubled since 1850, but the following figures for Negroes, who constituted the greater part of the assessed wealth, are most revealing: In 1850 there were 1,500 Negro slaves; In 1859, 3,000 Negroes, valued at $2,000,000; In 1860, 4,127, valued at $3,140,000. A good many men of wealth came to the Brazos country during the ’50’s. Most, if not all, had emi Chiefly Postal Business Books Shown by Appointment STIEFEL’S Dealer in Rare, Out-of-Print Books 1312 10th St., Huntsville, Texas Telephone 5-4449 Use our International Search Service for those hard to find books at no extra cost to you. grated from the Southern states, and their wealth consisted mainly of the slaves they brought. The people in this part of Texas believed implicitly in the economic and moral excellence of slavery. When Sam Houston ran his last race and was elected governor, in 1859, he was bitterly attacked on the grounds that he opposed the importation of slaves from Africa, long forbidden by federal statutes. The convention of Fort Bend County Democrats that met that year to select delegates to the state convention adopted a resolution which stated, in substance: Charles Ramsdell All laws prohibiting the free importation of slaves are a standing reproach and an offensive stigma on the institution of slaNiery, which the South regards as a great and signal good to the white and Negro races, defendable on m o r a 1, social and religious grounds. While the state convention did not go so far as to adopt this resolution, the Fort Bend County delegation worked manfully to push it. One year earlier, Jefferson Davis, senator from Mississippi, stood up in the U. S. Senate to defend slavery, which he said had solved the social problems of the South, so that the white population could become the leisured, cultured class and all the drudgery Would be performed by slaves. To this doctrine the white people of the Brazos bottoms gave a hearty Amen. “The system was perfect,” notes the late Clarence Wharton. “When \(We asked B. H. Stiefel, the Huntsville book dealer, why he chose Huntsville for a book business. He included his answer in HUNTSVILLE I’ve read of buried treasures, lost gold mines, and adventures in Texas in the early days, but nothing to me seems so exciting as a hunt through stacks of old books and pamphlets for rare item’s. Long before I started selling rare books I use to hunt them for my own collection. Since I’ve started as a professional bookhunter, with clients calling for rare items, the adventure of searching out rare books, pamphlets, and papers of all descriptions has been enhanced many times over. In the dusty and smelly conglomeration. of a junk dealer’s establishment, the attic of some crumbling old house, or the sedate and expensive library of a wealthy or once wealthy family, I find the search exhilarating. G. S. Perry wrote in his book, Texas, about the venerable J. Frank Dobie: “… and I privately suspect that sometimes, at the end of the school year when he starts back to the ranch country, it is only with the most violent restraint that he passes the first grazing steer he sees without kiss the daughter of a planter married, the father would give her and her husband a few hundred acres of his leagues of land and a few Negroes, and the youngsters would set to work enlarging the plantation and raising a family, and the slaves would increase so that when the children were old enough to be sent off to school the family was opulent, owning a bottom plantation and perhaps a prairie ranch. “They thought this delightful state of affairs was eternal. In 1862 Clinton Terry of Brazoria, about to leave for the front, wrote his will, in which he advised his executors to sell his lands and invest the proceeds in slaves, which he regarded as a safer investment. Having written his will he left for war and was killed at Shiloh.” THE PLANTATION people took the election of Abraham Lin coln to the presidency in 1860 as a personal insult to them from all Yankees. So far as the records show, there was not a Union man in Fort Bend County. When the election called by the Secession Convention of Texas was held, February 23, 1861, the vote in Fort Bend was unanimous: 486 for secession; against it, 0; the largest vote by far that had ever been cast in the county. It is apparent, from scattered records, that nine-tenths of the white males in Fort Bend County between the ages of 16 and 50 went off to war or were engaged in some auxiliary service. Of those who went off to war fewer than one half came home again, and many of these came home to die of wounds or of disease. Louis T. Wigfall had said, on the floor of the U. S. senate, “We have dissolved the Union. Mend it if you can. Cement it with blood.” Sam Houston had said, “Let me tell you what is coming on. the heels of secession: The time will come when your fathers and husbands, your sons and brothers, will be herded together like sheep and cattle at the point of the bayonet, and your mothers and wives, and sisters and daughters, will ask, where are they?” In August, 1862, the women of Fort Bend County,, at a meeting for the benefit of soldiers’ families, prayed for peace, but only after victory, ,kwhen the whitewinged _goddess will unfold her bright pinions.” When news came of Lee’s surrender, in April, 1865, the county took a firm stand: The remnants of the white population held a mass meeting and passed resolutions: Under no circumstances and in no event would they submit to their perfidious enemies, who had “placed an ocean of blood between us which can never be crossed or dried.” A clarion call was sounded to the 80,000 Confederate soldiers who were supposed to be still under arms west of the Mississippi, exhorting them to fight on. The home guard would at once equip and arm 30,000 Negroes, “who, with the aid of God, Kirby Smith and General Magruder, would hold Texas.” In June the Yankees landed at Galveston. The war was over. Most of the men were dead or broken. Nobody had any money. The Perfect System was in smithereens. There had to be a new start. now is in semi-retirement in Salado, Texas, thinks nothing of asking $10,000 for a rare item. ‘On the other hand, many people in Houston will remember him as a bookseller who sold more than two million books at ten cents each. “That,” says Fletcher, “was in the depression days.” He represented Texas at the World Book Fair in Frankfurt, Germany, in 1954. John Lindmark, who houses himself, his wife, and his enormous collection of books in a sprawling two-story, 100-year-old brick -school house in Poughkeepsie, N. Y., once bought a book from a farmer. The farmer warned Lindmark that the book was rare and the price would be $300. The book contained 27 broadsides on continental laws and was dated 1624. Lindmark paid the farmer his $300, separated the broadsides, and sold them at public auction for $6,500. Harvard University bought most of them. HUNTSVILLE is one of the many places in Texas where there is little or no interest in books, rare or otherwise. I doubt if one family in. the whole community spends a hundred dollars a year on books \(outside of college text less than five or ten dollars, the rest not a penny. If a bookdealer depended on Huntsville trade for a living he would starve to death. Since we buy and sell books all over the world, however, as long as there is a post office within reach, business goes on. Dobie once wrote that when people in Texas stopped bragging about foolish things and started brains or knowledge, they would have something worthwhile to brag about. I say, Amen! B. H. STIEFEL THE TEXAS OBSERVER Page 6
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