Death of a Multi-Ethnic Society: Populism, Disfranchisement and the Conservative Coup in Texas, 1880-1904
MetadataShow full item record
Texas Populists were ahead of their time. The borderlands experience in Texas caused farmers to develop economic ideas far in advance of the contemporary economic literature. Faced with Populists’ economic demands, the nation’s elites panicked. The ultimate result was the political destruction of Populism. A multi-ethnic political society that had developed in Texas since the end of Reconstruction became a casualty in the fall of Populism. This work explores the ecological and economic conditions leading to the rise of Populism in late nineteenth century Texas. Attention is paid to the role of organized labor as well as the ethnic and racial matrix in which the movement formed. The Texas borderland experience is suggested as a pivotal influencer of Populist economic policy. The movement is further contextualized within the Anglo, Hispanic and African American racial trinary found in Texas and the impact of German and other Central and Eastern European immigrant groups is explored. The role of elites in bringing an end to Populism comprises the second part of this work. Elites response to Populism was governed by a mix of status anxiety and economic self-interest. In order to suppress the political upstarts, elites in the south turned to both race baiting and formal disfranchisement schemes. In Texas, a wave of violence would largely silence the People’s Party. Changes to the state’s voting laws then institutionalized the white supremacist revolution.
Knights of Labor
Terrell Election Laws
Delear, Stephen Denis (2018). Death of a Multi-Ethnic Society: Populism, Disfranchisement and the Conservative Coup in Texas, 1880-1904. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A & M University. Available electronically from