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for flood control or for the generation of power and amusement, it is unanimously agreed that they should be used for flood control even though the power consideration be sacrificed.” The proponents of the dams Johnson, Wirtz, who served as general counsel for the Authority, Tom Miller, and others grew convinced that the real opposition they faced came from the Texas Power and Light Company. Years later, in fact, John Babcock learned, Judge Arnhim was on a retainer at the time from TP & L. The real worry of the dam supporters now was not whether the dams would be completed. They believed that funds probably would be forthcoming though this was no certainty and especially that once Marshall Ford dam was finished, then the major problems of flood control would be solved. No, their real worry was with securing consumers for all the hydroelectric power to be generated by Buchanan and the other dams. Without the sale of that power, the federal government’s argument on behalf of cheap power, the one they used here on the Colorado as well as in Tennessee, was just empty words, signifying nothing. Moreover, without the sale of that power, the dams never would pay for themselves, and the Authority would remain substantially indebted to the federal government. To understand, then, why the public battle over the flood was so heated and even at times vicious, it is important to know that at the time of the flood Johnson and his associates in the Authority were in the midst of battling TP & L for the sale of electricity in central Texas. During Buchanan’s term in Congress, there had been little pressure to repay the federal loan of $10,500,000. But, once Johnson reached Washington, federal officials began to pressure him to see that such monies were repaid, in part to show how effective New Deal programs, like cheap electricity, were. Johnson himself gave some evidence of his own personal conviction on behalf of the program. In a letter to Clarence McDonough on March 16, 1938, he wrote: You and I both realize there are plenty of rural communities throughout the whole area, where smokey lanterns are the chief means of lighting and elbowgrease is still the main motive power, although this is the Twentieth Century and not the Middle Ages. We know there are many towns in the Tenth District either entirely without electric light and power or struggling with inadequate, expensive, wasteful and cumbersome plants of their own, which supply light and power of most unsatisfactory kind at rates nothing less than blushful. There is no reason why either of these conditions should longer exist in the whole 40,000 square mile area the Colorado River is getting ready to serve. There is no program of more interest to me personally and officially than that upon which you and your associates have been working the last few years, and I want you to know that we must see to it that it is made entirely effective. I shall be happy to assist in spreading information on the organization of rural electrification cooperatives and corporations and to give these projects my full attention when they reach the Washington office for final approval. “Yes, we are going to have four dams . . . and they are going to pay for themselves with some electric power which doesn’t have to run through the cash register of a New York power and light company before it gets to our lamps.” A massive campaign had been initiated in the spring of 1938 throughout the central Texas region to develop customers for the power. It was directed by Johnson, and further orchestrated by the Authority. Max Starcke, Mayor of Seguin and friend of Alvin Wirtz, was hired as the operating manager of the Authority specifically to help with the political work necessary to recruiting electrical customers. Among other things, he symbolized the success that Seguin had had in running its own municipal power facility. During the spring, Johnson constantly was after the officials of the Authority to convince municipal officials throughout the region to take control of their own power plant and utility operations. Many, if not most of them, presently were controlled and operated by TP & L. Obviously, TP & L was reluctant to give up these plants. During the course of the campaign, federal officials made TP & L appear to be an ogre taking unfair advantage of the consumer. The federal government, the New Deal, would act as the knight in shining armor, coming to rescue the fair maiden, the People, to save her from the clutches of the evil dragon, TP & L. Johnson, ever the tireless campaigner and effective crusader, captured the flavor of this battle with a speech he delivered at a mass rally in Austin on August 16th, in the midst of the public debate over the flood: Yes, we are going to have four dams. They are going to hold back flood water and they are going to pay for themselves with some electric power which doesn’t have to run through the cash register of a New York power and light company before it gets to our lamps. The time has come for all citizens of Austin and for every citizen of this part of Texas to get a hold of his representative in the Legislature and to say to that representative: `We are going to have dams on the Colorado River to control floods. We are going to complete the four dams we are building now, and we are going to build some more dams if we find they are needed to do the job. `We are going to keep building these dams in a business way. When we store up flood waters we are going to release them through hydro-electric turbines and we are going to sell the electricity those turbines make to the people. It will be the people’s electricity and the people are going to get it at cost for a small fraction of what they have been paying the power monopoly for twenty years. . . . . . as far as I am concerned we are going to say to the Dallas News and the TP & L, ‘We are going to build our dams and we are going to keep our men at work,’ and that is what I want you to join me in saying tonight. .. . Obviously, Nature, it must have appeared to the New Dealers, was an active combatant on the side of TP & L; or, given the widespread lobbying efforts of the company, Nature might even have been on its dole! Whatever the source of the flood, whether by divine intervention or money from TP & L, this battle ultimately was won by the Authority and the dams. Over the next several months, the Authority was able to secure the cooperation of citizens across central Texas, as municipality after municipality voted almost unanimously to take control of their own power plants. For a while, it looked as though the cities would build their own plants, thus making the TP & L structures redundant and useless. Ultimately, a contract was hammered out between the two parties Whereby the Authority actually agreed to purchase the facilities. With this agreement in place, and with the electric cooperatives established later for rural districts, such as the Pedernales Electric Cooperative, whose headquarters not so coincidentally were founded in Johnson City, in Lyndon’s territory, the Authority at last had found a way to sell electric power cheaply. TP & L, like the great, muddy Colorado, had finally succumbed to the work of the New Deal. THE TEXAS OBSERVER 19