James Webb Throckmorton: the life and career of a southern frontier politician, 1825-1894



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Texas A&M University


Many scholars of the Reconstruction era have examined James Webb Throckmorton??s political career between 1860 and 1867 and have revealed that his racist views helped hasten the end of Radical Reconstruction in Texas. However, these scholars have not explained the motivations behind Throckmorton??s political ideology, nor have they explained adequately the origins of the North Texan??s racism. This dissertation focuses on these critical issues by examining the development of Throckmorton??s personal and political beliefs between 1850 and 1874. It shows that Throckmorton??s political ideology was influenced by four primary factors: his early experiences on the North Texas frontier, his desire to create a community on the frontier that was primarily designed to be a haven for white settlers, his commitment to political conservatism which evolved from his early affiliation with Whig political ideology, and his quest to bring economic improvement to the North Texas region. In contrast to other scholarly works on Throckmorton which claim that the North Texan??s political views were contradictory and inconsistent, this study demonstrates that Throckmorton??s ideological beliefs remained constant and changed little over time. His commitment to preserving the whiteness of the frontier, to protecting the settlers of his home region, to conservative political ideology, and to internal improvements, especially railroads, never wavered during one of the most turbulent periods in Texas politics. This study also reinforces several important conclusions about the South in the nineteenth century: The region was never a homogeneous society; southern racism was multifaceted; and southern settlers migrating westward, especially those from the Upper South, viewed the frontier as a potential escape from the political and social dominance of large slaveholders.