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Is Texas Southern, Western, or Truly a Lone Star?

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It’s that time of year again, that time when old-school, mainly Anglo Texans celebrate, commemorate—and in some extreme casesreenact the fall of the Alamo, the massacre at Goliad, and the decisive victory at San Jacinto. William Barrett Travis’s letter from the Alamo is dusted off and forwarded around the Internet, along with Davy Crockett’s zinger about where you all could go (Hell) and where he was going (Texas).

Meanwhile, here in Houston, Go Texan Day has just come and gone, which found office workers nervously hoping that they could still squeeze into last year’s gingham dress or tight-fittin’ Wranglers, and schoolkids of every race, color, and creed clomping around their school halls in cowboy boots most will never wear again. Roads normally clogged with motorized traffic were instead all a-clop with the hooves of hundreds of horses, as the spur-janglin’ trail riders and trundling chuckwagons finally arrived at their Memorial Park campsite after many miles of hard riding on paved roads. Go Texan Day kicks off the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, twenty days and nights of cattle auctions, bull-riding and barrel-racing, and (mostly) country music concerts, all in honor of Houston’s venerable heritage as one of the America’s great Western cowtowns.

The trouble is, the whole thing is built on a big fat piece of historical fiction. Houston was never a cowtown, at least not in any meaningful sense, and it never even pretended to be for the first century of its existence. The same goes for Dallas, which, while only 32 miles from Fort Worth, the real Cowtown, and situated on the very edge of what we have come to see as the American West, was always, like Houston, much more about cotton than cattleat least until Spindletop blew in.

The same went for the entire state of Texas east of what is now Interstate 35, which was where the vast majority of the people lived and was every much a part of the King Cotton economy as Alabama or Mississippi. Counties were named in honor of Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, John C. Calhoun, Stonewall Jackson, and John Bell Hood. Most towns of any size sported a prominent monument to its Confederate dead, and up until the early twentieth century, Dallasites and Houstonians saw themselves as just as Southern as Memphians or New Orleanians.

Houston billed itself as “the Magnolia City” from about 1870 to 1920. From about 1900 to 1915, the city was home to a much more historically accurate yearly municipal celebration. That would be the NoTsuOh shindig (that’s Houston spelled backwards, in case you’re confused). Based on Mardi Gras in New Orleans and Mobile, each year a local bigwig was crowned King Nottoc (again, they were really into spelling words backwards) and allowed to preside over a procession of ornate, horse-drawn floats with themes like “The Shrine of Venus,” “The Home of the Butterflies,” and “The Victory of the Amazons.” Nary a buckaroo was in sight at these festivals.

“I don’t think anyone much questioned Texas’s essential Southernness until the twentieth century,” says Dr. Gregg Cantrell, Texas history chair at TCU, past president of the Texas State Historical Association, and a member of the Texas Institute of Letters. “And they started doing so as a way of distancing themselves from the late unpleasantness of the 1860’s and 1870’s. Defeat, military occupation, Jim Crow and lynching, and all of those unpleasant things that are very much a part of Texas history as a Southern state, were things that a lot of Texans would probably just as soon not talk about a lot.”

Nationally, Dixie was stigmatized as a backward, ignorant, and violent hotbed of the Ku Klux Klan and religious hypocrisy. Why remain linked to all that baggage? Why not, forward-looking Texans began to think, align with the West instead? Back then, and to a certain degree today, the West was seen as optimistic, the place of second chances, the land of the golden tomorrow, a stark contrast when compared to Dixie’s melancholy and tragic yesterdays. So Texas’s politicians, educators, and ad-men went to work, Cantrell says, and have since all but totally recast the very ideal of what it means to be a Texan.

“And so what do you do? You play up the frontier, you play up the Texas Revolution and the Alamo, you play up the (in reality not-very-glorious) ten years of the Texas Republic, and then you talk about the Indian Wars and the cattle drives, all culminating in Spindletop and the discovery of oil,” he says. “All of these things made Texas seem like anything but a Southern state.”

Cantrell traces the first outlines of this marketing campaign to the turn of the century, but believes it started to kick into high gear during the governorship of Oscar Colquitt (1911-1915). “He just went crazy authorizing the building of monuments to pioneer leaders and heroes of the Texas Revolution. And you see it reflected in textbooks and all sorts of other places.” To paraphrase the last line in John Sayles’s Lone Star, Texas leaders made the conscious decision to “forget Gettysburg.”

Fortunately for the backers of this plan, there was some meat to the myth they were selling. The so-called Lost Cause so sighed over by Southerners is depressing compared to the Texas Revolution. Who needs the doomed valor of Pickett’s Charge when Texas’s darkest moment was redeemed decisively weeks later at San Jacinto? The ruthless Santa Anna made for a better villain than Grant, Sherman, and Lincoln combined.  

“I don’t want to oversimplify any interpretive theme but I really subscribe to the idea that the notion of Texas as a Western state, when you really boil it down to its essence, it’s really been part and parcel of what is now a hundred-years-and-running effort to escape what C. Vann Woodward called ‘the burden of Southern history,’” says Cantrell. 

Although the Texas Revolution has captured the national’s eye from time to time, it’s been mostly used for internal consumption. To captivate non-Texans, early twentieth-century Texas leaders had much more success with cowboy lore. Which is strange in its own right. Throughout much of the nineteenth century, polite Texans regarded cowboys with contempt, viewing them as unlettered ruffians with dirty jobs. In fact, evidence of this disdain for cowboy culture comes from my own great-grandfather John Avery Lomax, who claimed that his first attempt at gaining wider attention for the cowboy songs he had collected as a child in Bosque County was cruelly rebuffed. According to the story he related in his 1934 autobiography, Adventures of a Ballad Hunter, in the late 1890’s English professor Morgan Callaway told him that the songs were “tawdry, cheap, and unworthy,” whereupon Lomax took his manuscript behind Brackenridge Hall and set it on fire. That reception markedly shifted a few years later when my great-grandfather attended Harvard, where professors Barrett Wendell and George Lyman Kittredge encouraged him to collect the songs and their stories, a project that led to the publication of his first book, Cowboy Songs and Frontier Ballads. The book also captivated former Harvard man Theodore Roosevelt, whose hand-written introduction for it endorsed it as a “work emphatically worth doing and one which should appeal to the people of all our country.”

But the book was just one bullet in a cattle country fusillade that romanticized cowboys as chivalrous knights-errant and exemplars of rugged American individualism. As pointed out by Austin College Texas history professor Light Cummins, author J. Frank Dobie’s works focused on the brush and the desert, the vaquero and the cowpoke, not the cottonfield or the plantation master. The regionalist imperative seized visual art at around the same time and found its Texan master in Tom Lea, maestro of Big Bend mountains, cacti, and skies.

Musicians like Bob Wills slapped on a cowboy hat, buckled on a pistol belt, ladled on the blues, and sprinkled on a few Mexican tinges to the hillbilly music of the Texas past and created Western swing. (Back in those days, there really were two kinds of music: country and western, and there remains a schism between earthy Texas country and its more polished Nashville cousin today.)

Those trends percolated from the bottom up. There was also a top-down imperative, coming from the state’s business leaders, politicians, and history professors, who began to cast the settlement of Texas in terms of the settling of the American West, rather than the expansion of the slaveocracy. All of this culminated, in Cummins’s view, at the 1936 Texas Centennial celebration, in Dallas. In those pre-mass media days, such events—this was sort of a World’s Fair of Texas, with dignitaries and tourists coming from all over American and the worldwere the best way to advertise and get your audience “on message.”

And in 1936, that message was essentially, “Welcome To Texas, We Are Not the South,” all at the behest of a purpose-built state entity called the Centennial Board of Control. Its mission: to secede Texas from the lingering remnants of the Confederacy. (Note the absence of the Confederate flag in the poster above.)

In Cummins’s essay “History, Memory and Rebranding Texas for the 1936 Centennial,” he writes that they were to seize “the opportunity to highlight Texas progress to the rest of the nation and thus advance the state’s commercial prospects,” via showcasing Texas as Western and not Southern.

Cummins points out that the Art Deco architecture at Dallas’s Fair Park (built for the Centennial) was an intentional distancing from Dixie modes, one that sent the message that Texas was keeping up with the times and not harking back to the past of Greco-Roman columns and such. The Tom Lea murals and a thicket of cowboy statuary played up the Western theme, and the likenesses of the heroes of the Texas Revolution like Houston, Fannin, and Austin were presented in frontier attire, rather than the frilly suits the men actually wore. The event’s logo featured, in Cummins’s words, “ten-gallon hats, six-shooters, high-heeled boots, Texas Rangers, bluebonnets, and sex,” the last nodding to the cowgirls and Rangerettes on parade.

And it worked. Journalists returned to New York and Chicago and filed copy about their trip out West. At the same time, Texans came to view themselves more Western than Southern. Or a mixture of both. Or neither.

After all, Texas is just different. It always has been. There’s a certain unity to Southern culture stretching from Virginia all the way to the Mississippi River. Most of Dixie is African American and English and Scots-Irish, whereas Texas always had significant number of Tejanos and Mexican Americans, Cajuns and Creoles, and Germans and Slavs. Texas is the only former Confederate state with an international frontier, and the only one with mythic western landscapes and mountainous deserts. Chili, Tex-Mex, and chicken-frieds: the Carolinas do none of these well. Of the former Confederate states, only Louisiana stands as much varied from the rest, and thanks to its border with Texas, it has long contributed to Texas’s straying from the cultural norms of, say, Tennessee and Arkansas.

But for most Texans, reveling in cowboy culture as a birthright or ancestral heritage is a fiction. Dallas was never a city of Mavericks, Mustangs, or Cowboys, and though ever a violent city, Houston nodded to reality when it changed the name of its baseball team from the Colt .45s to the Astros. (When Major League Soccer came to town, “Houston 1836” was shot down as the team name due to protests that honoring the Texas Revolution was insensitive to Hispanics.) 

Houston’s gargantuan rodeo celebration is perhaps even more out of sync with its history as it is with its present and future, considering it’s now a cosmopolitan metropolis in which more than ninety languages are spoken.

“When modern Texans in cities such as Houston put on their boots and Stetsons and head for the rodeo or hearken back to the days of movie westerns that portrayed their state as cowboys, rustlers, and gunfighters, they are drawing on a collective memory that, although it has a basis in fact, is not the essence of Texas,” writes historian Randolph B. Campbell.

Cantrell agrees.

“In so many fundamental ways, Texas has so much in common with the Deep South,” he says. “All you have to do is look at our regulations, look at our politics. We certainly have a lot more in common with Mississippi than we do with California, alright?”

(Texas history mural: Texas State Library; “Southwest” mural by Tom Lea, 1956, El Paso Public Library, via Wikipedia; Centennial poster: Briscoe Center for American History, UT-Austin.) 

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  • Kenny

    I grew up near Houston and have lived in Austin and Dallas. I have lived in Georgia since 2003, and it has been remarkable to me how similar Georgia is to Texas. I hardly feel like I’m in a different place, except that it is a little cooler on average.

    • R.G. Ratcliffe

      I grew up in Dallas, but I lived in North Florida and St. Simons Island, Georgia, for almost five years. And the two states are a lot alike. The accent is different, though.

  • Javier Bustos

    Great article. I disagree celebrating Texas is mostly Anglo. I am proud of all of the Defenders of The Alamo. I grew up in San Antonio. I’m very proud of the contributions of Tejanos that gave all for Texas and still do to this day. Who cares about the other 48 (much love Louisiana). WE ARE TEXAS!

    • Texafiedpride

      People stereotype .lol
      Juan Seguin and many others won independence for Texas too.

    • RBHix

      Tennesseans make good Texans (Crockett and Houston). I just took another 150 years to get here.

      • JP

        Tennesseeans do make good Texans even Houstons army and the boys at the Alamo were the Tenn army. Texas you were created by Tenn your welcome now put your flag below the American! One team one fight!

    • scottindallas

      Texas is nothing to be proud of. Mexico immediately banned slavery when the won their independence. and they didn’t allow slavery in Texas. The Tennesseans fought for the freedom to enslave. That’s the subtext of the story above. After the civil war and Juneteenth when it was clear we we’re gonna go back to the good ol days of enslavement, we rebranded ourselves to accentuate our Western heritage. It’s no accident that East Texas has more Blacks, as that’s where they grew cotton, had the rain for it, and where Mexico’s influence was the least. Texas’ oldest cities, San Antonio and Austin have fewer blacks, historically, as a reflection of their Mexican heritage. As a Mexican, you have a lot to be proud of. The motives of those who fought for Texas’ independence we’re that noble

      • Walker62

        And what is the pride the Mexicans should feel? Are you saying they are color-blind!? Are you serious!? Look at Univision and Telemundo! Hardly any people of brown hue are promininent! They all look to be of Euro heritage. Google racism in Mexico.

      • Bob

        What bullshit. Mexico sold Apaches and Yaqui Indians as slaves until 1900. After Chief Victorio was defeated at Tres Castillos in 1880 the survivors were auctioned off at the square in Chihuahua City. It became an international issue as the Apaches on reservations repeatedly requested that the US gov’t intervene with the Mexican gov’t to get them released. When we did, the Mexicans simply refused.

    • Janmar

      Sadly, by 1842, Juan Seguin and many other Tejanos were booted out of the Republic of Texas.

  • Jordan Fowler

    I live west of Fort Worth. Thus I can call myself a Cowboy-Westerner-Maverick. There was, according the Ferenbach’s Lone Star work, much less an ideological tie in to the purposes of the South and much more of a “well I guess we Texans are doing this Civil War together and we are for the South.” His work on this is outstanding, in my opinion, on shedding light on this fact.

    • Matt heermans

      Texas has always been southern to me. As a born and bred Texan, I am a Southerner. Southern is what I know, Southern is a culture. Texan is not a culture, it’s not really a definition of anything. I’ve always thought of the cowboy stuff as fairy tale, as Houston and Galveston have zero to do with the west. Pretty proud to be Southern. Oh, and history basically tells us it’s a fact that the state is Southern. Just seems like a no brainer. To the above poster, Texas was all in with the rest of the South. The economy and culture was that of Mississippi or Alabama. Texas seceded with a vote that was second only to south Carolina in its overwhelming majority.

      • Tx Grandma

        Houston and Galveston do not represent all of Texas!

      • Walker62

        Texas was in the Union all of 15 years when the Civil War occurred. . Born and bred in Texas meaning never have you lived in another state as I have, Georgia, for over 5 years. And my family roots date to Civil War times at least. My great grandfather born in 1875 so I feel I can speak of the differences.
        States east of Louisiana are truly southern. I’d say even Kentucky or much of Virginia are more emblematic of the South than Texas. Texas is a Lone Star because of many influences – southern, western, international, and oil and gas industry adds to its uniqueness.
        Look at the predominant religious denomination of the south- Southern Baptist. Then look at Texas – much more Catholic, Methodist, Episcopalian than what you will find to the east.
        Texas was much forward looking in terms of business acumen. Hunt, Hofheinz, Texas Instruments founder, Frito Lay, Perot, Dell, Haggar, Dickie, Bass brothers, King Ranch Family, Brinker, Romano, Kelleher and Crandall the latter two leaders who created and guided Southwest and American airlines.
        More prominent politicians on a national scale – Rayburn, LBJ, John Tower, elder Bush, Jesse Jones. Bentson, Gramm, Hobby,

    • scottindallas

      Our founding has been whitewashed, and is hinted to in the article. Texas seceded from Mexico for the right to enslave. As it sunk in that slavery was done, we moved our image to the Western mythos the author describes. Look at the cities established when this was Mexico, and the few Blacks compared to cities that were established after. The Western part of the state, where you’re from didn’t support cotton, and thus slaves were never a viable option. Cattlemen were Black, White, Scots Irish, Mexican and German. There was little segregation, as life was too basic. Texas is at least two states, with an interesting history, to be sure

      • Joe Adams

        It took me until the age of 50 to recognize this, when a colleague from Alabama pointed it out, amazed that I hadn’t seen it myself.

  • afticker

    I have lived all over Texas since the early 60s and dang sure don’t see any resemblance to Georgia ( lord have mercy) Georgia sucks, climate, people and traffic(drivers) Texas is a place all of it’s own with some southern roots cause most of the folks who came west to ‘
    Texas were from the South ( Tennessee, NC, Ga,Alabama Kentucky) but they soon adapted to a different way of life from that of the “old south”. The “genteel” was not manageable in Texas for it was rough with the terrain, the rattlesnakes, the weather and the not so friendly neighbors. One had to toughen up to live in Texas or die. Those who didn’t died or moved back to Georgia or some other god forsaken part of the south. Yep cowtown is Ft Worth, not Dallas or Houston and damn sure not Austin which has become Wuss town of Texas. Get up in the panhandle if you want to see the real Texas and see real Texans cause living is tough up there with the weather and terrain. Nothing between the Panhandle and the North Pole cept a five strand barbed wire fence, and it’s got four strands broke down . 80 degrees at noon on Christmas eve day and snowing like crazy by 4 pm on the same day and 8 inches of snow by Christmas morning. Yep that happened in 65. So nope Texas is a place on to it’s own, not Southern and not truely Western either. That’s what makes Texas and Texans such a special place and breed of folk.

    • Matt heermans

      Myth. I can be at a typical plantation from my doorstep in 25 minutes. My hometown was the second busiest cotton port in the South. Two civil war battles were fought here. Texas was not “kinda southern” because some southerners moved here – it was the westernmost expansion of the south, in every single way. The above post is great, in the sense that it basically summarizes every false representation of the state that I’ve ever heard. I think I’ll go get some catfish and sweet tea for dinner this evening because I live in the South. As an aside, Texas eats more catfish than any other state and its not close. If Texas isn’t the South, it’s nothing at all. As the article clearly illustrates, a Texas that isn’t Southern at its soul is nothing more than a loudmouthed marketing campaign.

      I lived in Mississippi for two years. Loved it. Felt like the Texas I grew up in. I’m 34.

      • Texafiedpride

        I’m from Texas my family last name has lived here pre – post Civil War . My ancestors fought in the Civil War for the Confederacy. A Texas regiment fought in nearly every Battle of the Civil War including Gettysburg. Texas was I think the third state to Secede from the Union. There are monuments and Graves of Confederate soldiers all over this State. I was a little kid when citizens pushed the KKK rally out of down town in Central Texas . Even as far out as Amarillo you’ll see Confederate flags and hear Southern drawl. Tons of Cotton grown all over this state. I’ll agree that West and Central Texas aren’t the stereo type of plantations etc. But it’s definitely the South.

        • Texafiedpride

          Loved your post lol

        • Dylan Kroll

          seeing Confederate flags really doesn’t count for much. I’m from California and see more Confederate flags here than I saw when I used to live in Georgia.

          • Texafiedpride

            True , but theirs a lot of Southern folks and all types of folks that move to California too. I honestly think alot of folks just wear a lot of the cheap convenient store merchandise/flags cuz it’s in style with alot of bikers and white trash.

  • R.G. Ratcliffe

    Amon Carter, when he was publisher of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, declared: Fort Worth is where the West begins. Dallas is where the East peters out.

    • Mark A. Martin

      Actually, it was his good friend, Will Rogers who said it. My favorite Texas quote.

  • $54359129

    actually your texas history dates from 1836 texas to now and hell the ballies hinojosas brought the horses to south texas and the guerras bought the cattle to breed c/reate a new breed that could adjust to the trans nueces strip dry weather conditions. the long horn was spanish cattle . this is where the united states cattle horse industry got its start in the rgv. as for texas being dixie only in your mind , what isnt known is andrew jackson sent sam houston to texas to get land for slave plantations and slavery was introduced into texas. which tejanos were against cause slavery was subjected to east texas ,58,000 slaves, resided in the east texas area, . during the civil war ,and worked making clothes for the confederacy, read the pdf south texas boss rule in starr county ,33 pages long very enligthening and texas confederacy owe mejico a debt of gratitude cause if mejico hadnt allowed the cotton bales to move south on mexican carettas pulled by oxen on steam ships out of south texas ,cause of the union blockade the confederate rebels would have starved cause they got coffee, food stuffs and loin cloth for clothes ,from mexico and ammo name it mexico supplied the rebel forces with it. and you guys look at mexico with disgust ?. santa anna wasnt as you portray him, he was protecting the northern border against the invasion of anglos in to texas .and it was so vast he couldnt keep it ,from becoming part of the united states, france during the war between the states was also trying to cross the rio grande to join the confederacy from keep the union from expanding west. and failed at the battle of puebla !so cinco de mayo means something to texas and the united states ?as would later prove to be when the padre hidalgo defeated them at the battle of puebla.. but what isnt known was president or genera l ulysses s grant funded and armed the rebels in mexico fighting france for mexicos independences from emperor bonaparte of the west. napoleonboraparte the third ,and the battle of san jancintowasnt even abattle itwas more like an ambush the mexicans were asleep and caught unarmed and shot inthe back pleading for thereb lives ?me no alamo ! me no alamo! dunt shoot dunt shoot running into the river swimming for there lives ,mounted texas hillbilies from the new orlean greys shot them in cold blood frombatonrouge fought insam houstons texas army of the republic those conscripted mexican 16 year old kids werent even soldiers they raided the country side and drafted the mexican kids into mexican army what bs.

    • ThePrincipleBehindIt

      Your history is messed up. Santa Anna is no hero. 11 Mexican states tried to secede. Look instead to true Tejano heroes–Lorenzo de Zavala (chosen at the Republic’s Constitution Convention to be our VP), Juan Seguin and Jose Navarro. By the way, volunteers from the Republic of Texas (many Anglos and Tejanos) went into Mexico and supported the rebel forces. We even sent our navy to help the other Mexican states.

      • $54359129


      • $54359129

        juan seguin and navarro were run out of texas after they were used like womens tapons they were slavers ,theywere sellouts seguin was italian

        • Bob

          Seguin was Spanish, descended from a group of settlers who came to San Antonio in 1718 from the Canary Islands. You are an idiot.

    • Master Chief (Retired)

      Your ‘version’ of history is really – ah, how do I say this so you will understand, WRONG!!!

      • $54359129

        wgaff what you think

    • ironclad

      Tedjosa…part of your rant is fact; but only part as most of it is skewed. Your view is
      obviously from an anti-Texas point of view.

      • $54359129

        well call it what you will but i,ve researched mexican archives and can tell you what they said is accurate davy crocket and 69 others ran out the back of the alamo and the lancers went after them and captured them davy didnt die like a hero he died by execution

        • Bryan Ford

          And other reports from Mexican diaries say different….. and whether someone died from being executed after a battle or shot in the head during it…. facing those odds was still pretty heroic… even if they tried to live another day.

          • scottindallas

            like the branch Davidians. We’re holed up, an ain’t comin out.

        • Walker62

          So are you saying Texas should be part of Mexico? Then you know the Spanish and French will be looking to reclaim some of that land south of the Rio Grande too. Next up, the Mayans and Aztecs of what is now the southern quarter of current day Mexico.

  • Texrzrbak

    Mr. Lomax. The state is worlds more Western than Southern. I was born and raised in Houston, schooled at Rice and Arkansas. I’m also a Marine and have traveled in every state in the South and have lived several times in San Diego. Made the endless drive from Houston to San Diego and vice versa, covering west Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California. Have you? You get one mile west of San Antonio, you’re NOT in the South. Think of a Cormac McCarthy novel. NOT the South. Nobody who has actually been to Arkansas, Mississippi, South Carolina, Alabama, or Tennessee actually thinks those places in any way resemble even east Texas. I don’t care what “historians” say.

    • Texafiedpride

      I’m from Brownwood Tx the Central part west of San Antonio. When I was a kid the local citizens stoped a KKK rally down town. Confederate veterans are buried in our cemeterys. My ancestors even fought in the war. I agree that the landscape and the plantation stereotype is not in West Texas, but alot of the people who inhabit it are descendants of it. That part of Texas was mostly a frontier at the time, but Texas is the South. I only state that because I feel like it’s a large part of our History.

      • Dylan Kroll

        I’m sure there’s plenty of Confederate soldiers buried in New Mexico, from the campaign there. New Mexico isn’t the south.

        • Texafiedpride

          But overlook the 45,000 Texans who served and died in the Confederacy because the Western portion of the state only had a small portion of settlers ?

    • kidicarus

      West Texas is more actual Texan than Central Texas or East Texas.

  • Proud Tex

    Good thing this article was written, i think there may have been 7 americans who forgot for 12 seconds how evil the south is, and how ashamed we should all feel for the past we had nothing to do with. Way to put us in our place you liberal douche-canoe

    • Texafiedpride

      The majority of Confederate soldiers didn’t own slaves. It was about the Federal government taxing the heck out of rich Southern plantation owners later trying to abolish slavery to end their money/ power and influence in Government. I think Slavery is awful, but I’m proud of my ancestors who fought the North. I’m also super proud of Civil Rights laws that later were pushed forward by Texans.

      • $54359129

        3700 tejanos from tejas coahuila served in the union army and confederacy the civil war wasnt a n all white affair black soldiers also fought along with native americans and otms .

        • Texafiedpride

          I agree, but 45,000 Texans died for the Confederacy. Some Texan and Tejano

          • Blue Dogs

            Kids need to READ the TX History books including for college!

      • Bob

        ” I think Slavery is awful, but I’m proud of my ancestors who fought the
        North. I’m also super proud of Civil Rights laws that later were pushed
        forward by Texans.”

        Your ancestors fought to preserve slavery, that is nothing to be proud of.

        • Texafiedpride

          They fought because their government was screwing them over not over slaves. The majority of Texans and most Confederate soldiers didn’t own slaves Bob. If the North was so devoted to the slaves, they wouldnt treated their African infantry regiments like dogs and theyd have given them more jobs up North post -Civil War.

          • kidicarus

            The majority didn’t own slaves, but the economy of the South was massively dependent on slavery as an institution. There are other reasons the Civil War was fought, but slavery is far and way the primary driver of the rest of those reasons.

      • WestTexan70

        Read the Texas Articles of Secession and get back to me about how it wasn’t about slavery. I have lots of ancestors who wrongly fought to keep slaves.

  • Texrzrbak

    Mr. Lomax. The state is worlds more Western than Southern. I was born and raised in Houston, schooled at Rice and Arkansas. I’m also a Marine and have traveled in every state in the South and have lived several times in San Diego. Made the endless drive from Houston to San Diego and vice versa, covering west Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California. Have you? You get one mile west of San Antonio, you’re NOT in the South. Think of a Cormac McCarthy novel. NOT the South. Nobody who has actually been to Arkansas, Mississippi, South Carolina, Alabama, or Tennessee actually thinks those places in any way resemble even east Texas. I don’t care what “historians” say.

  • cliffson

    I go with the true “Lone Star” definition of Texas. Many waves of immigration, both from other parts of the nation and international sources, have dwarfed the presence of my own ancestry – which was from the Deep South. Texas is huge and diverse, both geographically and economically. It is larger in size than about 190 countries in the world today, and the Texas economy is the world’s 14th largest. Texas has dense forests, rolling prairies, desert plains, mountain ranges, hill country, and river valleys. It has 3,300 miles of coastal and islands shoreline, and has a 1250 mile international border. In this immense environment, the melting pot syndrome has been the dominant cultural phenomenon for at least 100 years. People who move to Texas, from anywhere, generally stay and become Texans. It’s futile trying to categorize Texas as either “southern” or “western.” It is neither, but is a lot more than either.

    • A. Michael Uhlmann

      Under all the defensive and ignorant answers I love your answer and I think the author of this piece actually wanted to convey this. And If another Tarrant county Republican tells me what the values of West Texas are – screw him – he won’t get! Texas always embraced the cross cultural phenomenon – just start analyzing anything from Texas blues to German and Czech polkas, to old fiddle tunes that became country to later on Western Swing, Psychadelic, Rock’n’Roll – Texas has such a diverse musical background it reflects it’s diverse people background.

  • Dylan Kroll

    This article seems to be predicated on everything west of I-35 not actually being part of Texas. It has a lot of fair points and interesting trivia for the part of the state it actually discusses, but just seems to ignore the fact that, you know El Paso, Amarillo, Midland, etc, are actual places in order to prove a point.

    If that’s going to be the case, maybe the author should contact the state of New Mexico and ask if they want to annex some untended land?

    • Texafiedpride

      Dylan, at the end of the day Texas is to diverse culturally and Historically to put in to one box . It’s definitely meets all the criteria of Westen, Southern thats why its a Lone Star. Lol

    • kidicarus

      West Texas is more genuinely “cowboy” than the rest of the state, anyway (whatever that means).

  • FreedomFighter915

    Mr Lomax,
    Yet another lame article from our lovely Austin Monthly Magazine. If you look at only certain parts of Texas through a crack in the door, I guess you can come to such myopic conclusions as you do. Over here in El Paso, while we did back in the day choose as with the rest of Texas to secede, and kicked out the Yankee troops, no one in their right mind can wander through much of West Texas and say to themselves, “this feels so Southern.” You find no collared greens or catfish in El Paso unless you hit up Cracker Barrel. Really Texas is a large state with many cultures, I don’t think anyone can really call it predominantly Southern or Western. I would argue that South-Western works, better yet let’s just call it a Lone Star State of Mind, and enjoy it.

    As for the Tom Lea’s paintings, and all the other “propaganda marketing” which you try to paint as fiction. No, that is our cultural heritage, and you and Texas Monthly yet again show that you don’t know Texas.

    • kidicarus

      I think you’re misinterpreting the article. He’s saying that the shift to redefine Texas a a Western state didn’t happen until the 20th century, so of course it doesn’t apply to the state’s cities today.

      Either way, El Paso has always had a much different (and more interesting) than the rest of the state. El Paso has much more in common with the settlement of the American West than central and East Texas does. Historically it’s probably the most complicated city in the U.S., as it’s history parallel’s that of northern Mexico, the New Mexico territory, and Texas all at once.

  • G. Blackie Blackwell

    Sorry Mr. Lomax, I disagree. But then again, I live west of I-35.
    I see Texas as “Western”. I also see Texas as “Lone Star”. It’s hard for me to see any resemblance to the Antebellum way of life.
    Being originally from outside of Memphis, and seeing the old Southern Guard hard at work to preserve the southern way of life, I just don’t see it here in Texas.
    But as previously stated, I live west of I-35.

    • Texafiedpride

      I live near Brownwood I don’t know about the Southern Guard, but theirs an organaziaton that goes and cleans and tends to all the Confederate graves etc. I’m sure most of the Graves are East Texans who later moved and inhabited Central/ West Texas. Is that the Southern Guard ?

    • kidicarus

      Mr. Lomax isn’t talking about the Texas of 2015, he’s talking about the historical Texas, before the move to distance the state from its Southern heritage.

  • Tx Grandma

    I was born and raised in Fort Worth. I don’t consider myself Southern or Western. I am a Texan. Our state is diverse in land and people. There are many other things in Texas than the large cities of Dallas, Austin and Houston. To anyone who has been to Fort Worth, Amarillo, El Paso, Muleshoe, Sherman, Tyler, etc., you have seen the diversity that makes Texas so great! In the 24 years that I lived all over this country and in Europe as a military wife – when someone asked me where I was from – I never said I was from the South or the West. All I ever had to say was – I’m from Texas. I am a Texan and proud of it!

  • Bob Loblaw

    I’ve never understood Texans who take the position that Texas was anything but the South. That’s one of the reasons A&M’s move to the SEC was tried many times before it happened and celebrated when it did. A&M and yes, Texas, Baylor, Texas Tech are much more culturally and historically aligned with LSU, Alabama, Vanderbilt and Auburn than Nebraska, Iowa State and Kansas. Of course, the further west one gets, the more that becomes Southwestern. Texas largest religious denomination is Southern Baptist, it’s very conservative politically, socially stratified and puts a heavy emphasis on manners and upbringing. That’s why it’s incredibly odd that Dallas — the former king of cotton and (oh my!) slave trading — would decorate its plaza with statutes of cattle.

    • cliffson

      Per the latest stats I recall seeing, there are approximately one million more Catholics in Texas than Southern Baptists. And about 40% of Texans aren’t affiliated with any religious denomination at all. Maybe some of that group just worship college football.

    • Walker62

      You mention A&M leaving for SEC but not Missouri. It just proximity. Colorado and Nebraska left too and for big conferences closest by.
      As far as religion, true Southern Baptist is largest but remember Pope John Paul 30 years ago chose to come to Texas because of its CATHOLIC population.
      I don’t get why cattle sculpture is some symptom of something wrong? Has nothing to do with cotton and slavery.

      • Esteban Erik Stipnieks

        Texas A&M was founded as the reconstruction University, University of Texas at Austin was founded after reconstruction as a rebel yell. Which of the two now is more closely related to the South?

        • Blue Dogs

          Plus A&M only has ONE of their alumni (Perry), who occupied the TX Governor’s Mansion for 14 years!

          • Esteban Erik Stipnieks

            The college now university I attended was founded out of guilt over ordering a son’s death during the Civil war. Schreiner in Kerrville A phd who I often criticize and consider profoundly ignorant got her Phd in education from UT. Their is an Aggie vet who had no business procreating so I really do not lionize either schools.

  • DanielFaster

    Rodeo = effin embarrassment, no shortage of that

  • Jason

    It does, to an extent, depend on where you live. I think most people agree that the culture at Texas Tech feels more like Arizona or Arizona State (I.e., Southwestern) and Texas A&M feels more like Alabama or Ole Miss (I.e., Southern). With that being said, Texas as a whole is so completely unique from the South or the West, as evidenced in our history, immigration patterns, cuisine, etc. Not to mention we were once isolated as an independent nation. Does it have some South and some West in its roots? Yes. But it is so distinct you could not call it either. It truly is a Lone Star.

    • Baker

      Yes, Texas is definitely way too distinct from the rest of the region to be considered Southern or Western. And I agree that there are slight cultural differences in various regions of the state. It’s true that UT, Tech and A&M all have different feels, but A&M just screams “South”

  • George Weisinger

    I’m an economic historian and your basic string that Houston doesn’t have a significant cattle past is probably not fully informed. Harris County held the majority of the Allen Ranch from 1840s to 1940s that became the largest in the region with over 17,000 acres. Allen Ranch had it’s own shipping dock and three railroads shipped from there as well. When the plantation system collapsed at the end of the Northern War of Aggression, cattle replaced cotton in significant amounts of East Texas and recovered the Texas economy. In 2014 the top Texas crop was Cattle and Calves at over $10 billion with the next being Cotton, Lint, and Seed of $2.3 billion. I don’t know about you son, but this Texan proudly wears his boots AND talks with a Southern drawl.

    • Bryan Ford

      Yes, Houston and the surrounding area has a long history of cattle ranching…

      • Blue Dogs

        Houston will forever be the LARGEST city in the Lone Star State!

  • Bryan Ford

    There have been ranchers and cattle in my area… between Houston and Galveston since the mid 1800’s…. my family dates back a long time in this area…. my great grandfather was a cowboy and certainly lived the “western” life style.. just as his father did…. they weren’t much like the deep south.. that is a fact… not a myth… Texas is a melding of the south.. from the people who came in during the 1830’s to 1850’s… and helped invent the western culture.. dating back to the early to mid 1800’s… saying its more south than west… it is just short sighted and biased. Texas is a melding of the two… but no.. it isn’t more southern… and California doesn’t see itself as western.. at least not in the ranching lifestyle way of the thousands of Texas families who have owned cattle and ranches over the last 180 years.

  • Justsomeguy

    The part of the state west of 35 has little in common with its eastern part and that may be said of the area west of 75/45 as well

  • Gritsforbreakfast

    I grew up in Tyler with family in central Texas and the Panhandle, where my great grandfather was a cowboy on the XIT ranch. Still, my Texas is definitely more Southern than Western. Your mileage may vary. These are personal questions, based in perception about what Texas means to the individual, not factual queries which have a yes/no answer.

  • Angelo_Frank

    Read some of Elmer Kelton’s books. Now he could make Texas into a real legend of the Wild West.

  • Donna McClure

    Texas is not Southern or Western. Texas is Texas. Texas is not Houston or Dallas, not even Austin. Texas is the ‘flyover country’ between the urban centers and it has always had a unique culture that is a mixture of our very American roots and our Mexican heritage and our rural values. It is the big cities that are at odds with Texas history if anything, not the rest of us who actually do wear boots and hats and jeans and work with our hands and create things other than controversy and division. Texas is the melting pot the rest of America claimed to be and never really was. We are not Mississippi and we are not California. We are the Lone Star State, the once and future Republic of Texas.

  • Esteban Erik Stipnieks

    I grew up in New Braunfels and finished high school in Denton. I have long ago developed that Texas is very much a nation unto itself with three DISTINCT states. This link explains some of the most weird TX history I lived http://www.ausaboxing.com/nb05rem.html My hypothesis is backed up by the fact we regard Texas A&M founded as a school to reconstruct the south as far more southern than the school founded to preserve southern pride University of Texas. Highway 90 to the south shore of the Gaudalupe River east of San Antonio is what I call New Spain….I spent many an hour in Alice. I 35 to Hillsboro and I-35W Hillsboro to Denton marks the distinct divider between Texas West and Texas the old south. The differences between New BRaunfels and Denton illustrate this.

  • Blue Dogs

    TX is SOUTHERN: I mean seriously c’mon. They fought for the Confederacy in the Civil War!

  • Chase

    I think this clip from the movie Bernie clears it all up.

  • Mike Griffin

    Truly a Lone Star State and not a backwards southern state.

  • Donald Walker

    Many people I know who live in the Rocky Mountain West do not consider the Pacific coast to be the real West. To such people, comparing Texas to California to prove that Texas is western proves nothing…. The reader comments clearly demonstrate that identities are personal and varied, while the article shows nicely how identity can evolve over time — and be consciously manufactured.

  • Guy McClung

    Texas Monthly is its own myth. Guy McClung, San Antonio