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Population growth through immigration primarily from the United States seemed to accelerate in the early s despite the considerable political turmoil caused by factional struggles over political control of the huge expanse of territory that constituted the state of Coahuila y Tejas.

Volume Issue 2 | The American Historical Review | Oxford Academic

By the Texas population including slaves was estimated at 24, Just two years later in the year of Texas independence from Mexico--the non-native population was estimated at about 38, Including the estimated 14, natives brought the total population to well over 50, Many factors on both sides of the U. Still, it seems that the much lower cost of land in Texas than in frontier areas of the United States, combined with the formal land grant system, were major factors. Census in Most of the new immigrants came from southern states, especially Tennessee, Virginia and Georgia.

Representatives of these three states alone formed a majority in the constitutional convention that produced the state Constitution of Reflecting the Jacksonian political culture and agricultural economic interests of these settlers, that first state constitution prohibited banking and made the formation of private corporations very difficult. These southern immigrants also brought with them their preference for and expertise in growing cotton.

As cotton was a labor intensive crop, southern immigrants brought increasing numbers of slaves. A census of the state in reported 42, slaves in the state. But just two years later, the U.

Census of counted 58, slaves. In the ten years from to production of cotton multiplied more than sevenfold, from 58, bales each weighing pounds to , bales. As cotton production blossomed, so did slavery — an Anglo American institution that had previously been only tolerated by Mexican authorities, and which was relatively limited at the time of independence. The Census of showed that sixty-four counties had 1, slaves or more, and all but eight of those counties produced 1, bales or more.

Free King Cotton In Modern America: A Cultural, Political, And Economic History Since 1945 2010

From the end of the Civil War through the turn of the century, cotton production continued to increase dramatically as a result of several key developments. These included massive immigration from the deep South and Europe, removal of natives from prime cotton-growing areas, the invention of a new plow that more easily broke the thick black sod of the plains, the invention of barbed wire, the extension of railroads, the invention of cotton ginning removal of seeds from cotton fibers and cleaning and baling of the lint , and perfection of cotton compressing at the side of railroads for easier shipping.

Clearly, "King Cotton" became a central feature of the Texas economy, attracting considerable investment capital, labor power, and technological development. Other industries within the broader agricultural sector also grew considerably in late nineteenth century Texas, including ranching, timber, and corn.

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Still, cotton was king until the s when it began a decades long decline in importance caused by the drop in demand during the Great Depression, the loss of labor power during World War II, the rise of other centers of cotton production abroad, and federal efforts to hold down production to maintain prices. As the railroads extended their reach in the late nineteenth century across the state to the panhandle and the high plains of west Texas, their influence grew.

At first, the combination of more extensive railroad service and the relocation of cotton compresses from the seaports to rail sidings helped cotton farmers break the power of the port facility operators. But, hostility and political competition between farmers and ranchers on the one hand and the railroads on the other quickly grew.

Because railroads tend to be natural monopolies in which the huge cost of investment makes it inefficient to have more than one service provider in a particular area , they tended to exercise enormous market power over their customers--the farmers and ranchers.


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The railroads' power to set rates was perceived as injurious to farmers and ranchers. The struggle between railroads and their customers led to the victory of James Stephen Hogg in the gubernatorial election of Hogg ran chiefly on a populist platform whose main plank was the promise to regulate the railroads. In that same election a proposed amendment to the Texas constitution was ratified that permitted the creation of a railroad regulating body that among other things would regulate freight rates.

Hogg made the first appointments to the new Texas Railroad Commission in Three years later in the Legislature made those positions elective. The creation of the Railroad Commission represented the most significant and direct political clash between competing economic interests since the Civil War pitted slaveholding cotton growers against northern industrialists. Governor Hogg pushed through a series of laws, known as "Hogg's Laws," aimed at reining in the railroads, out-of-state corporations, and insurance companies.

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