Remember the Long Rifle

The ragtag group that marched from Gonzales to San Antonio de Béxar in October 1835 was a bring-your-own-gun army. This volunteer force, led by Stephen F. Austin, called itself the Army of the People, and the people supplied their own weapons and equipment. When the call to arms came, the soldiers picked up whatever was handy and brought it with them. 

Breaking the Silence

“Tamaulipas has always been a silent state,” Guadalupe Correa-Cabrera, a government professor at UT-Brownsville specializing in the Mexican drug war, told me last December. For decades, the state—which borders much of South Texaswas tightly controlled by both the Gulf Cartel and the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), Mexico’s dominant political organization—and neither entity had much interest in fostering a culture of transparency.

Land Lords

For all its choices and opportunities, life in the city also brings a certain loss of autonomy. You answer to a clock-watching boss. You are bound by traffic patterns. You worry about what the neighbors think. But drive out beyond the city limits, to where the paved highways give way to caliche roads, and this changes. Out here, amid pastures and spreads divided by barbed wire, you can own acres of land. Out here, you make every decision and there is no gridlock.

Ranch Blessing

Texans may loudly profess love for their wide-open spaces, but about only 2 percent of the state is actually public property. The rest, famously, is privately owned. From an ecological perspective, this is not an entirely bad thing: the fact that there are so many exclusive spreads, such as the King Ranch, has guaranteed certain protections for the wildlife that thrives on them. But that is changing.

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