Cover page

Table of Contents

Title page

Copyright page

List of Maps

Preface and Acknowledgments


1: Contact of Civilizations, 1521–1721

The Diversity of New World Cultures

The Indians of Texas

The Iberian Legacy

Los Reyes Católicos

Looking for Fortunes in Texas

2: Spaniards in a Far Northern Frontera, 1721–1821

Frontier Institutions

Frontier Society

Indian Accommodation and Resistance

The Bourbon Reforms

Texas Toward the End of the Spanish Era

Independence from Spain


3: Mexican Texas, 1821–1836


The Native Mexicans of Texas

Anglos and the Mexican Government

Mexican and American Capitalists

The Law of April 6, 1830, Resisted

Liberals in Power

The Ineffectiveness of the Law of April 6, 1830

A Multicultural Society

The Centralists Back in Power, 1834–1836

The War for Texas Independence

4: Launching a Nation, 1836–1848


The Politics of Caution

The Politics of Action


Demographic Growth

The Rise of Towns

Farms, Plantations, and Ranches

The Texians

The Indians

The Tejanos

Learning and Plain Folks


Recognition in Europe

Friction with Mexico


The War with Mexico

End of the Lone Star Republic

5: Statehood, Secession, and Civil War, 1848–1865

The Texas Economy at Midcentury

Texas Society at Midcentury

Texas Politics at Midcentury

Texas and the Civil War

6: The Era of Reconstruction, 1865–1876

Aftermath of the War

Congressional Reconstruction

The Davis Administration and Radical Reconstruction

Black Texans During Reconstruction

A Perilous Place in Which to Live

The Indian Displacement

The Rise of the Cattle Kingdom


The Constitution of 1876

7: A Frontier Society in Transition, 1876–1886

The Texas Population

The Closing of the Open Range

Sheep and Goats

Violence and Lawlessness

The Return of the Texas Rangers

The Railroads and Economic Development

Public Land

Lumber and Other Industries


The Growth of South Texas

Labor Unions

Cities in the Late Nineteenth Century

Plain Living


Education and Other Public Services


The Legacy of the Frontier

8: Texas in the Age of Agrarian Discontent, 1886–1900

Economic Change

Ethnic Groups in the Late Nineteenth Century

Women in Late-Nineteenth-Century Texas

Agrarian Organizations

Texas Politics, 1886–1900


Texas at Century's End

9: Texas in the Progressive Era, 1900–1929


Urban Growth and Workers

Labor Unions

Agriculture and Rural Life

Ethnic Texans

Texas Politics in the New Century

Women in Action

Prohibition in Texas

Texas after World War I

10: Texas and the Great Depression, 1929–1941

Texans Confront the Depression

State Politics, 1929–1933

The Return of “Fergusonism,” 1933–1935

The New Deal and Taxes

Minorities During the Great Depression

State Politics, 1935–1938

National Politics, 1935–1938

State Politics, 1938–1944: The End of the New Deal

Literature and the Arts Prior to World War II

11: War, Prosperity, and Modernization, 1941–1960

Texas and World War II

Postwar Politics

Texas Industrialization

Texas Workers and Urban Growth

Labor Unions

Texas Farms

The Texas Family

Texas Schools

Texas Society and Culture at Midcentury

12: Texas in Transition, 1960–1986

The Decade of Johnson and Connally

Challenges to the White Male Elite for Control of Texas

The Civil Rights Crusade

Sharpstown and the End of an Era

The Texas Economy

Toward a Two-Party State?

Leisure and the Arts

13: A New Texas? 1986–2001

The Texas Population in Transition

The Oil Bust and its Aftermath

Rural Texas in Crisis

Religion in Texas: A Force for Tradition

Texas Culture in the Late Twentieth Century

Texans at Play: Sports and Leisure

The Paradox of Texas Politics

Historic Assumptions in Transition


14: Into the New Millennium, 2001–2012

A Changing Population

The Modern Texas Economy

The Changing Face of Urban Texas

Texas Politics in the Twenty-First Century

Current Issues, Future Challenges



Spanish Governors of Texas

Provincial Governors of Texas

Governors of Coahuila y Texas

Presidents of Texas

Governors of Texas

United States Senators


Title page


Figure 1.4 Early Spanish Exploration
Figure 2.1 Frontier Institutions in Texas
Figure 2.4 Indian Tribes of Colonial Texas
Figure 3.2 Empresario Contracts
Figure 3.5 Ethnic Settlements, 1836
Figure 3.7 The Battle of San Jacinto, April 21, 1836
Figure 4.1 Republic of Texas
Figure 4.3 Towns of the Republic of Texas, 1836–1845
Figure 5.1 Land Forms of Texas
Figure 5.2 Ethnic Settlements, 1850
Figure 5.4 Military Posts
Figure 6.9 West Texas Forts and the Comanche Range, 1866 to 1880s
Figure 6.13 Cattle Trails
Figure 7.3 Major Texas Railroads to 1900
Figure 8.3 Ethnic Settlements, 1880
Figure 9.1 Oil Fields of Texas and Date of Discovery, 1894–1918
Figure 9.17  “Wet and Dry” Counties of Texas, 1911
Figure 13.8 High Plains / Ogallala Aquifer
Figure 14.4 Texas Counties
Figure 14.8 Texas Today

Preface and Acknowledgments

The Fifth Edition of The History of Texas presents the fascinating story of the various peoples who have inhabited the land we know as Texas. Readers of this book will gain an understanding of the forces of cause and effect that have shaped the disparate pasts of different groups within the state as well as the heritage shared by all Texans. They will also develop an appreciation for the dynamic interpretations that scholars give to historical movements and specific events.

Because we have always endeavored throughout the previous editions to make this book appealing to teachers and students, we have entered on a major reorganization for this Fifth Edition. When initially published in 1990, the textbook was innovative in several ways. First, it took a social history approach, placing ordinary Texans at the center of the story, instead of the traditional “great man” approach. It thus became the first Texas History textbook consistently and systematically to include the histories of women, Tejanos, African Americans, and working-class people. The book was also innovative in its chronological coverage. Texas History textbooks had traditionally emphasized the nineteenth century at the expense of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and particularly of the twentieth century. This book devoted fully half of its pages to the post-Civil War era, and about forty percent to the twentieth century.

However, the first four editions lacked a uniform arrangement, with the first half of the book following a more-or-less chronological organization, and the second half of the book alternating between chronological and topical chapters. In revising for our Fifth Edition, we determined to make the structure more consistent from start to finish. Conse­­quently, we have converted Chapters 7–14 into chronologically organized ones, like Chapters 1–6. The process involved significant rearrangement of sections and/or subsections, rewriting introductions and conclusions, and adjusting charts and tables when necessary. In its finished form, the new edition contains the same information as previous editions (as well as updates mandated in light of new scholarship published between 2006 and 2013) but it presents the material in a more user-friendly style for students and instructors alike.

The passage of more than two decades since the appearance of the first edition also necessitated a rebalancing of the last several chapters of the book. With so many new events and much recent scholarship to consider, Chapter 14 had grown to the point of becoming unwieldy. To remedy that imbalance, in this Fifth Edition, Chapter 9 now encompasses the “long” Progressive Era (1900–1929); Chapter 10 treats the Great Depression from its onset in 1929 into World War II; Chapter 11 follows the modernization of Texas from World War II into the early 1960s; Chapter 12 traces the state's history through the 1960s and 1970s and up to 1986; Chapter 13 extends the story to the start of the twenty-first century; and Chapter 14 treats everything from 2001 up through the 2012 elections and offers commentary and observations about the state's future.

Core attributes that made earlier editions fresh, innovative, and popular still characterize the new edition. So do the many features of the first four editions that pleased both students and instructors. All peoples make history; we have continued to honor that tenet by incorporating the many cultures embraced by the Texas experience. The same principle also drove our effort to give due attention to the lives of ordinary Texans, as seen in the continued coverage of topics such as agriculture, industrialization, urbanization, economic disparity, migration patterns, and demographic change. Also included are the unsung subjects who contributed to the Texas saga, among them plain white folks, women, and the leaders and members of local labor, agricultural, and other grassroots organizations. Like its predecessors, this edition also pays attention to the history of folklore, music, literature, sports, religion, and other aspects of Texas culture that help determine the flavor of Texas, past and present. Believing that the history of Texas in recent decades is as significant as that of the nineteenth century—the period that still seems to attract the most scholarly attention—we once again provide a comprehensive, unflinching analysis of twentieth-century and early twenty-first-century Texas.

Since 1990, the authors have kept abreast of new scholarly literature, incorporating it into each new edition and keeping the book historiographically current and relevant. Here we continue this practice. We have amplified some parts of the text and streamlined others for clarity. Therefore the Fifth Edition features expanded discussions on Texas Indians, on views Texans held toward Civil War participation, on the politics of the Redeemers and the Populists, on the role of Texans in World War I, and on women and minority groups. At the same time, we cut statistics where we thought them repetitious or where we felt removing them would not harm the narrative. We also dropped passages when we considered them to overlap with information covered in American History survey classes. Our intent was to produce an even more highly readable work.

Like the text, we have updated the lists of suggested readings that conclude each chapter. Space limitations permitted the mention of only a small number of titles that have informed our writing or that we think must come to the attention of serious students of the state's past. Primary material also proved crucial to this endeavor. Most of the statistics not specifically cited come from U.S. Census Bureau reports and the Texas Almanac, although Chapters 13 and 14 also make extensive use of data found in the web sites (all of which are listed in the suggested readings section) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the Texas Agricultural Statistics Service, the Business and Industry Data Center, the Texas Comptroller's Office, the Texas State Data Center, and the Center for Public Policy Priorities, among others.

Finally, and like its predecessor, the Fifth Edition offers students and instructors a dynamic web site in support of the text, making The History of Texas ideal for traditional as well as online courses.

Late in 2000 we lost our dear friend Robert A. “Bob” Calvert, a devoted scholar, writer, and teacher who conceptualized this book in the 1980s and contributed directly to the first two editions. Over the course of his long career, Bob influenced thousands of students of Texas history, a subject to which he was ever devoted.

As Bob would be the first to admit, from the beginning and continuing to the present, The History of Texas reflects the input, advice, and generosity of a great number of scholars: these include Paul D. Lack, Larry D. Hill, Fane Downs, Stanley Siegel, Norman D. Brown, Charles Martin, Alwyn Barr, William Childs, Jesús F. de la Teja, Walter L. Buenger, Robert Wooster, David La Vere, Randolph B. Campbell, Charldean Newell, Bernard Weinstein, Robert Weddle, James E. Crisp, Ty Cashion, George N. Green, and luminaries in Texas history scholarship who are now deceased, among them Malcolm D. McLean, Dorothy DeMoss, Ben Procter, and Barry A. Crouch.

In preparing the Fifth Edition, we gratefully acknowledge the assistance of Carl H. Moneyhon, James Smallwood, Patrick G. Williams, H. Sophie Burton, F. Todd Smith, Paul J. Sugg, Neil Carman, Karen Hadden, Barbara J. Rozek, Paul Carlson, Richard Bruce Winders, as well as several of the scholars listed above.

Arnoldo De León

San Angelo

Gregg Cantrell

Fort Worth



Contact of Civilizations, 1521–1721

The story of Texas begins many thousands of years before the birth of Christ. Between 12,000 and 40,000 years ago nomads from Asia trekked from present-day Siberia to present-day Alaska, entering North America in a series of distinct migrations. As they hunted for edible plants and animals, the nomads crossed broad fields of ice that spanned the Bering Strait during this long period of intermittent low sea levels. Even after the Bering Sea finally reclaimed this bridge of ice, other Asians managed to navigate the waters of the strait to arrive in the new continent. More such migrations followed but ultimately ceased, cutting off the early voyagers from humankind elsewhere on Earth.

Scientists now agree that American Indians descended from a relatively small number of parent migrants who contributed to the “founding” gene base. Once the ancestors of the American Indians were cut off from other Asians, natural selection and genetic mutation produced distinctive physical types.

Through the ages, these ancient nomads dispersed throughout the vast lands of North and South America. As bands struck out in different directions in search of fresh sources of game and vegetation, different cultural and linguistic patterns appeared. These cultural patterns further evolved over time as New World peoples began to develop agriculture, around 7000 bc. Once prehistoric societies learned to till the soil and harvest plants, human beings began to exercise some control over nature and develop strong ties to the land. Family units eventually formed into complex social and political organizations. Religious figures emerged as leaders or spiritual advisers, and gender roles became more clearly defined. As each group adapted in order to survive in its local environment, distinctive customs and practices developed, as evidenced by the different types of housing, decoration, clothing, and tools used by the people of particular regions.

The Diversity of New World Cultures

Various groups and cultures spread throughout all regions of the New World. Though historians disagree over population estimates, most concur that more people lived in what we now know as Latin America than remained in North America. At the time of Columbus's voyage in 1492, roughly 12 million people lived north of the line dividing present-day Mexico and the United States; between this boundary and the Isthmus of Panama lived an estimated 35 million people; finally, some 60 million people inhabited the continent of South America and the Caribbean Islands.

Of the pre-Columbian civilizations, that of the Maya has generally been considered the most intellectually advanced. Situated in what are today the Yucatán Peninsula and Guatemala, the Maya, during the height of their civilization (about ad 300 to ad 900), made brilliant advances. For example, the Maya's discovery of the zero cipher, well before Arab mathematicians introduced the concept to Europe in the thirteenth century, helped them make significant achievements in architecture, astronomy, and calendrics. Speculation lingers as to why the Mayan civilization declined. A deadly disease may have spread throughout the population, natural catastrophes may have produced food shortages, or a social revolution to undermine the ruling class may have hastened their demise.

Another major civilization thrived for a time at Anáhuac (Valley of México), this of the Toltecs, who raised a mighty empire at Tula until drought and famine forced them to desert their capital city. In 1215, new barbarians named the Méxica, but more commonly known as Aztecs, arrived from unknown parts in the north and built upon the collapsed Toltec empire by establishing themselves in Tenochtitlán, today's Mexico City. One of the cleanest and most populous cities in the world at the time of its “discovery” by explorers from the Old World, Tenochtitlán contained pyramids, royal palaces, and other large structures, homes for the several social classes, canals crafted from stone that served as waterways for canoes, botanical gardens and zoos, and causeways connecting the island city to the mainland. Although the Aztecs had a warlike disposition and a penchant for human sacrifice, they abided by strict codes of morality, esteemed education, adhered to an honest and efficient system of legal and political administration, and excelled in various branches of the arts.

In South America another civilization flourished at the time of the European conquest of the Western Hemisphere. Embracing an area extending from today's Ecuador to Chile, the Inca civilization had its headquarters in Cuzco, in present-day Peru, and ruled through a remarkably efficient system of civil administration. A road system superior to any in Europe at the time enabled government officials to carry out their responsibilities, laborers to travel throughout the empire to maintain public works, and soldiers to move quickly in order to protect the realm and suppress rebellions. Unsurpassed by other Native American civilizations in architectural skills, the Incas designed and built structures that flexed with the tremors of earthquakes, resuming their original forms after each jolt. The Incas also possessed advanced scientific skills. Amazingly, archaeological findings point to their apparent success in performing brain surgery.

The Indian tribes that inhabited the North American continent generally developed less sophisticated civilizations. The Northeast Woodlands Indians, found from the Ohio Valley to the Atlantic Ocean and southward to Chesapeake Bay, lived in loghouse villages or in wigwams and survived by farming corn, squash, and beans nearby their homes, or by hunting deer and wild fowl and fishing from canoes. Among the most famous of the Woodlands tribes was the Iroquois, who despite their renown as warriors organized the famous League of the Iroquois. The League, considered the most effective Indian alliance north of the Aztec Empire, succeeded in ending the chronic bloody conflicts among its member tribes.

South of the Woodlands tribes, stretching from the Atlantic Coast to the Mississippi Valley and even into East Texas, lived a culture group that maintained ties to mound-building societies of a past age. These were the Choctaws, Seminoles, Chickasaws, Creeks, and Cherokees—later referred to by Anglo Americans as the “Five Civilized Tribes” because they adopted Euro-American ways. The most famous of the descendants of the mound builders were the Natchez. At the time of the European exploration of the area, trappings of the classic Natchez era remained evident in villages along the lower Mississippi River. These villages surrounded temple mounds and ceremonial council houses, the identifying traits of the ancient mound builders.

A third advanced culture group that flourished at the time of Europeans' arrival in the Western Hemisphere was located roughly from what is now West Texas to Arizona, and north as far as southern Colorado. Here the Hopi and Zuñi created a distinctive cultural heritage (Figure 1.1). These tribes, who belonged to a group that Spaniards referred to collectively as Pueblos, resided in planned towns consisting of stacked, apartment-type complexes, sometimes two or more stories high. For defensive purposes, the Pueblos built their adobe villages into rock walls or upon steep mesas and structured them so as to oversee the spacious streets and squares below. In the fifteenth century, the Pueblos cultivated corn and other crops, developed irrigation canals, used cotton to make clothing, and lived much in the same manner as did the European peasant of the same period.

Figure 1.1 White Shaman. Cave art of the prehistoric inhabitants of the Pecos River area. Credit: Amistad National Recreation Area.


The Indians of Texas

Anthropological evidence reveals that before the Europeans arrived, a number of distinct culture groups lived in the varied geographical areas of what is now Texas. Such pre-horse people shared numerous characteristics, certainly the result of evolutionary processes, adaptation to historical situations, and common responses to environmental factors. Generally, Native Americans bonded around self-reliant bands or extended families. Leaders rose through the ranks, gaining their positions by a proven display of bravery, wisdom, or special attributes. Their religion embraced the supernatural; today, it would be said that they were animistic. They thought, for instance, that natural objects—whether the galaxy, Earth's geographical landscape, the flora or fauna—had an existence that paralleled that of humans and could be summoned for help in times of need. These culture groups recognized social/gender distinctions. Women cared for the household: cooking, preserving foods for later use, and fashioning animal skins into clothing. Women maintained a close contact with the land, cultivating it, foraging for edible products, and gathering clay from which they made cooking utensils or wares to be traded with other Indian nations.

Certain shared traits notwithstanding, Native American civilizations in pre-Columbian Texas were quite diverse. Several of the peoples had different places of origin, some tracing their lineage to culture groups in the modern-day U.S. South, northern Mexico, or the Rocky Mountain region. No common language united Native American groups in Texas. While some made war with or raided neighboring groups regularly, most preferred to avoid conflict and lived in terror of attacks by aggressors. Numerous peoples preferred a sedentary life, while others maintained a nomadic existence. Adaptation to local environment tended to separate one culture group from another. Thus, one Texas tribe might build villages (and reside in permanent dwellings constructed of cane and grass—Figure 1.2) and rely on farming, while another might stay on the move, living in portable shelters such as hide teepees as they migrated seasonally to gather wild vegetation or pursue game, trapping their prey and killing it with clubs and other crude weapons. Region also determined a group's economy, as livelihoods might turn on agriculture, hunting big game such as the American bison (commonly known as buffalo), or perhaps a mixture of both combined with intertribal trade.

Figure 1.2 Over 1,200 years ago, a group of Caddo Indians known as the Hasinai, who were part of the great Mound Builder culture of the southeast, built a village and ceremonial center 26 miles west of present-day Nacogdoches. Shown here is a reproduction of a typical Caddo house like those found here at this Mount site. Courtesy of the Caddoan Mounds State Historic Park, Texas Parks and Wildlife.


The Coastal Indians

Along the coast of southern Texas and in parts of the Trans-Nueces lived the Karankawa and Coahuiltecan peoples. Both groups had common roots in modern-day northern Mexico: the Coahuiltecans were tied linguistically and otherwise to the Native inhabitants of Coahuila. The Karankawas and the Coahuiltecans lacked formal political organization; social life revolved around the family, extending into small autonomous bands (related by kin) presided over by a chieftain. Their religious life was primitive, and they believed that supernatural entities governed the cosmos.

Their respective environments of marshy terrain close to the Gulf Coast and the chaparral of the brush country were harsh ones. The territory of the Karankawa extended along a thin area running down the coast from Matagorda Bay (some archaeologists believe even as far north as the Lower Brazos River region) to Corpus Christi Bay, while the Coahuiltecans lived in the Gulf Coast Plain and much of what is today considered South Texas. Both tribes moved frequently, their migrations generally corresponding to the change of seasons. Over the years, the nomadic Karankawas and Coahuiltecans had learned the ecology of their respective regions well; they knew when nature produced its greatest yields and the precise grounds where such bounties lay. Indeed, they tended to live in the same general site during one part of the year before moving on to another favorite camp. To guarantee a reliable and abundant food supply, during the fall and winter months the Karankawas stayed close to the coast, where they relied heavily on shellfish, aquatic plants, and waterfowl, but also hunted deer and even alligators. For life along the bays and lagoons, the Karankawas built small canoes from tree trunks and made nets, an assortment of traps, lances, and bows and arrows. The Coahuiltecans also preferred to inhabit specific locations during the winter, places where they could expect to find abundant roots and other easily attainable foodstuffs. During the spring and summer, the Karankawas moved inland to the coastal prairies and woodlands. There they relied less on marine life (though numerous rivers and creeks still provided them with fish) and more on land animals—among them deer, rabbits, prairie fowl, and occasionally buffalo—and the annual offerings of nuts, beans, and fruits produced by indigenous trees and shrubs. During the warmer seasons, the Coahuiltecans foraged for nature's yields over the large expanse of South Texas. They took advantage of the spring rains, catching fish trapped in receding pools of water, and hunting deer, lizards, birds, fish, and insects and gathering mesquite beans, prickly pears, pecans, and roots. Dome-shaped wigwams covered by animal skins or improvised windbreaks served as the most common type of Karankawa and Coahuiltecan housing. When it came time to move, they simply dismantled their shelters, taking them and other useful items with them.

The Northeast Texas Indians

East of the Trinity River, tribes related to the Indians of the Mississippi Valley prospered, among them the Caddos. Many centuries before Europeans had realized the existence of the New World, people roamed the lower Mississippi River expanse in quest of edible plants and small game. Sometime around ad 800, however, these hunting-and-gathering peoples turned to farming, cultivating a variety of vegetables, among them beans, squash, and their major staple—maize, or corn. Around ad 1200, the Mississippian civilization reached its high point of cultural growth and tribal strength before entering a gradual decline. The Caddo Indians of Texas constituted the westernmost flank of Mississippian culture, owing much to it in the way of farming, village life, and religion, though the Caddos had also borrowed cultural traits from tribes to the west (in New Mexico) and the south (Mexico). While Mississippian culture in general was in as state of decline when Columbus sailed from Spain, Caddoan civilization was persevering.

Caddo settlements extended from the Trinity River, due north past the Red River, and as far east as the Mississippi River. Stable communities—consisting of isolated rural villages—were generally located on the best farming lands in the region. Close to sources of fresh water (primarily rivers and streams), the Caddos constructed dome-shaped homes from grass and cane. As many as four families shared one such domicile, for Caddo home life apparently revolved around multifamily dwellings. With fields surrounding their settlements, the Caddos had easy access to their principal source of sustenance. Like peoples in the other parts of the world at the time, the Caddos planted twice a year—in the spring and early summer. Notably, Caddo society entrusted the role of agricultural production to women, who through experience and with good judgment tended the plants (generally corn, squash, and beans), rotated the crops as needed, fertilized the soil (with the droppings of wild animals native to eastern Texas), then carefully stored the excess harvest for use during lean times.

Chiefs known as the xinesí presided over Caddo society, both as political and religious leaders. Serving in a hereditary position, the xinesí (whose authority extended over several Caddo communities) mediated between his followers and a supreme deity—the world's creator who influenced both good and bad things in life—and led religious celebrations, ceremonies, and festivals. In Caddo society, the xinesí was a person whose high status demanded respect from tribal members who looked up to him as a powerful figure able to determine such phenomenon as a successful sowing; as such, the xinesí's wishes and directives were to be followed unquestionably. Under the supervision of the xinesí, the Caddos constructed impressive temple mounds (signature traits of their Mississippian kin) that served both as storehouses and places in which to conduct important meetings and ceremonies. Below the xinesí in the Caddo religious order were lesser medicine men who attended to the spiritual and physical needs of the people. Adept in the use of medicinal herbs and various folk remedies, these healers treated a multitude of wounds and illnesses.

Governing individual Caddo communities (also through hereditary right) were the caddí. Such rulers were members of the upper stratum. While all but disqualified from holding office, a commoner might elevate himself to a leadership position through feats of bravery on the battlefield. Ostensibly, the Caddo administrators ruled efficiently, for at the time the Spaniards began their exploration of Texas, the Caddo world prospered. Lieutenants enforced the policies determined by the caddí, directing commoners in their tasks of tilling the soil, building shelters for all concerned, and seeing to the public good, which included defending the nation from outside threats. War was not, however, integral to Caddo culture. Indeed, they undertook attacks on neighboring tribes primarily as a social pressure valve, a way to let eager young men act out their bravado, or as opportunities for anyone wishing to rise in social status.

The Caddos granted women rights and recognitions not generally accorded by European societies of the era. Their society was a matrilineal one, meaning that authority was handed down, both in families and in the larger clan, through the mother's line, so women held a distinct and influential place in kinship networks, within which they molded Caddo social conduct, privileges, and duties. Women also could influence individuals' economic, political, and social standing as they related to the broader group. Finally, it was women who classified others vis-à-vis the clan—as, for instance, friend or foe. In such a kin-based civilization, Caddo women gave advice on matters of intertribal trade and relations, including terms of war and peace. Ordinarily, women's presence among visiting Indian delegations symbolized peace; their absence from such teams conveyed hostility.

Although they primarily relied on farming for their sustenance, the Caddos supplemented their diet through other means. In addition to gathering roots, nuts, and fruits, another task assigned to women, Caddo men hunted the native game of eastern Texas: turkeys, rabbits, or quail in the summer; deer and bear (useful for lard, clothing, and shelter) in the fall and winter; and buffalo (present on the western rim of the Caddo confederacy) when the supply of other foods grew scarce during the colder months. Comfortable in their stability and self-reliance, the Caddos also engaged in extensive trade. Eventually the Caddo world served as a hub for those bringing goods from as far away as New Mexico, northern Mexico, and the Mississippi Valley. The Caddos welcomed many trading partners, bartering their baskets, tools, decorative art, and weapons for certain types of vegetables, furs, and other luxury items not otherwise available to them in East Texas.

The Jumano Indians

Another group inhabiting Texas in the final years of the fifteenth century was the Jumanos, who inhabited the Trans-Pecos area (Figure 1.3). Ethnographers and other scholars still disagree over the distinct features of Jumano culture. Opinions also differ as to what specific peoples (or tribes) made up the Jumanos, what linguistic groups they derived from, and the precise regions they occupied. Some studies note that the term Jumano, as used by the first European observers, delineate those descendants of the Tanoan-speakers, a linguistic group from New Mexico, or those tribes that made their living as traders and traveled as far east as the South Plains of Texas. To some anthropologists, the word Jumano identifies people of a shared cultural background, and not necessarily a general grouping of people with a common language or a specific livelihood.

Figure 1.3 This famous panther is an outstanding example of the prehistoric art of the Lower Pecos people. Credit: Amistad National Recreation Area.


Recent research presents the Jumanos as descending from the Jornada line of the Mogollón, a people indigenous to modern-day Arizona, New Mexico, and neighboring regions. Sometime in the mid-fifteenth century, part of the Jornada tribe began migrating eastward toward the Trans-Pecos, ultimately establishing permanent settlements in the West Texas river valleys such as El Paso, but more specifically in the region that the Spaniards later referred to as La Junta de los Ríos (the confluence of the Rio Grande and the Rio Conchos). Quite plausibly, the whole of western Texas became the domain of the Jumanos—more militant tribes such as the Apaches and Comanches would not enter the region until sometime in the seventeenth century—for what were most certainly Jumano settlements (many of them temporary) have been found beyond the fertile river valleys. In any case, the Jumano civilization stretched from eastern New Mexico and perhaps into Oklahoma, and south to northern Chihuahua in Mexico, with its easternmost appendage extending into the South Plains. In these hinterlands, they made a living by farming and hunting.

At La Junta de los Ríos and other permanent settlements, the Jumanos worked irrigated produce gardens, cultivating traditional farm crops such as maize, beans, and squash. The Rio Conchos and the Rio Grande provided them with a variety of fish. Jumano communities resembled those used by their kinspeople in New Mexico—clustered single-family dwellings constructed of reeds and grass formed a village, over which a chief ruled. Such farm hamlets were indicative of the branch of the Jumanos that had opted for a sedentary life, though certain village members left on seasonal hunting expeditions.

Hunting nearly full time became the unique trait of the nomadic Jumanos of the West Texas plains. Living in transient camps, this branch of the Jumano people roamed the vast grasslands throughout the spring and fall in pursuit of a variety of game: from snakes, fish, and birds, to deer, antelope, rabbits, armadillos, and, naturally, the indispensable buffalo, which furnished them with meat for food and hides for shelter and clothing. During winter, the hunters relocated near the more permanent villages of their farming relatives, launching the hunting cycle anew in the spring.

Both the sedentary and nomadic Jumanos earned reputations among the Spaniards (who entered the world of the Jumanos in the seventeenth century) as accomplished merchants—as noted above, some Europeans used the word Jumano synonymously with trader. La Junta de los Ríos served as a distribution hub for provisions, trade items, and intelligence coming in from northern Mexico, the Indian villages of the upper Rio Grande, the world of the Coahuiltecans, or from the exchange marts of the Caddos. The nomadic Jumanos appear to have made commerce as much a part of their way of life as was hunting, establishing trading villages on the plains as centers of exchange. In these posts, they bartered products manufactured or acquired by the tribespeople—bows and arrows, pearls, and animal furs and hides. But they also traveled widely to exchange horses (stolen from local ranches in northern New Spain), buffalo products, and foodstuffs for vegetables and fruits raised by local tribes, woolen textiles or pottery produced in New Mexico, or wares and foods available through the Caddos' own commercial network.

The Plains Indians

Strikingly different from the aforementioned Native American tribes were the Apaches, Comanches, Wichitas, and Tonkawas. None of these Indian peoples—all of whom would play important parts in Texas history during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries—lived in Texas in pre-Columbian times. Their origins may be traced to the northern Rocky Mountain region of the present-day United States. The Apaches, for instance, were related linguistically to tribes in Canada and Alaska, while the Comanches had originally made their homes in the valleys of the upper Yellowstone and Platte rivers. No one knows when exactly these tribes commenced their pedestrian migration into the Great Plains (the geographical expanse immediately east of the Rocky Mountains) and the Southwest in the pursuit of buffalo. Historians do know that these Plains Indians found new power in the horse (acquired in the seventeenth century from raids upon fledgling Spanish settlements or by capturing wild herds), for they learned to ride horseback with great skill while hunting buffalo, conducting warfare, or relocating to newer locales.

A number of forces ultimately led the Plains Indians toward Texas. Mounted warfare produced winners and losers; the Comanches—the most successful because of their high mobility and unmatched riding skills—became such a terror on the Plains that the Apaches (namely the groups known as the Lipans and the Mescaleros) by the late seventeenth century began heading south to take refuge in Texas. So did the Wichitas from Oklahoma and Central Kansas, though they sought haven from their enemies attacking them from the upper Mississippi Valley. The Comanches, meantime, continued expanding their nomadic hunting grounds southward, pursuing buffalo on horseback, fighting the hated Apaches, and bolstering their pony herds by rounding up wild horses. For their part, the Apaches in their retreat southward threw so many lesser Texas tribal units into disarray that in Central Texas there formed a disparate group of refugees that collectively came to be known as the Tonkawas. As with the Apaches, the Tonkawas were no match for the Comanches, who by the early 1700s had arrived in Texas to become the dominant force in the northern, central, and western regions of the province.

In Texas, the Apaches, Comanches, Wichitas, and Tonkawas depended on the buffalo for almost all their essential items, including food, shelter, clothing, weapons, and tools. Using bows and arrows, the Plains Indians effectively hunted not only buffalo but also deer, antelope, turkeys, and other wild game. Small garden plots, however, provided a secondary source of food, and some of these bands raised maize and other vegetables including squash and beans. They also gathered berries and other domestic fauna such as agave, from which they made intoxicating beverages. Additionally, wild plants gave them herbs, fruits, and other products that they consumed themselves and used in barter.

The Plains Indians lacked any pan-tribal political structure, so families formed the basic social foundation. Groups of families under a chief composed working units that served to defend the people or to retaliate against other groups for wrongs inflicted. In some cases, their livelihood depended as much upon preying on other tribes who had items they needed for sustenance as it did upon reaping nature's bounty. Fiercely independent, the Plainspeople held religious views that allowed for individual relationships with deities; their faith in a single, all-powerful being was only ephemeral. Shamans, or religious figures, exerted no great authority among the wanderers of the Plains, as they mainly served to heal the infirm.

The Iberian Legacy

The first white people with whom the indigenous inhabitants of Texas competed for political and economic advantage came from the Iberian Peninsula—a part of Europe in which history had departed in substantive ways from that of the rest of the continent. The early history of Spain, however, does not belie this difference. Like the rest of Europe, the Iberian Peninsula had come under the rule of the Greeks and later was subsumed by the Roman Empire. From the Romans, Spaniards derived their language, law, customs, religious faith, and the name of their country—Hispania. When Spain, along with the rest of Europe, fell to the barbarians in the fifth century, the Visigoths swept over the peninsula and superimposed their way of life over that which the Romans had instilled. Like other Europeans, the Iberians then began forging new lifeways that combined the Roman influence, the newer Germanic contributions, and evolving Christian beliefs, for in Spain, as elsewhere, the Visigoths ended up assimilating the religion, language, and form of government of the people they had conquered.

The Muslim era and the reconquista

What chiefly separated the history of the Iberian peoples from that of the rest of western Europe was the conquest of Spain by Muslims from northern Africa (Arabic or Berber peoples known loosely as the Moors) who sought to spread their Islamic faith. Partly because of the Muslim domination of the peninsula, which began in ad 711, feudalism did not attain maturity in Christian Spain. The constant state of warfare to oust the Muslim intruders equalized social distinctions, thereby blurring class differences then prevalent in northern Europe. In each Christian state, furthermore, the war bolstered the role of the king as the military leader responsible for the reconquista (reconquest), the term generally used to refer to the centuries of struggle to regain Spain from the Muslims. Following a tradition used by the Moorish invaders, Christian fighters surrendered one-fifth of the spoils of their conquests to the monarch—a custom that granted further power and wealth to the Crown. Since the Muslims were among the world's best-connected merchants, their influence helped Spain enjoy brisk economic activity with the Islamic world. Numerous Spanish cities became commercial hubs as their merchants developed prosperous ties with their counterparts in Africa, the several Mediterranean countries, and the Muslim world of the Middle East. Even Iberians who earned their living from the soil participated in the economic good times, as they sold their produce in domestic as well as export markets.

Castile and the legacy of the reconquista

Efforts to resist the aggressors and reconquer the motherland molded Spanish culture during the Middle Ages. Of the several Christian states that individually or jointly sought to push back the Moors, none excelled Castile, the heartland of Spain stretching from the peninsula's northern lands south to the central plateau. Castile's campaign to expel the Muslim interlopers turned into a way of life that accentuated the warrior hallmarks of valor, tenacity, intrepidness, and survival at any cost—traits embraced by the conquistadores (conquerors) whatever their social station.

Through time, moreover, the Castilian reconquista assumed the aura of a religious cru­sade. The discovery in 900 of what Spaniards believed to be the burial site and body of the apostle Santiago (St. James the Great) in northern Spain, inspired Spanish religious fervor, for St. James supposedly had brought Christianity to Iberia. The reconquista prompted the Crown to bestow the role of ally upon the Catholic Church, and, in turn, the Church's preaching in support of this cause rendered numerous social and politi­cal privileges to the clergy. By the thirteenth century, Catholic religious orders such as the Fran­ciscans and Dominicans engaged in proselytizing activity among the Spanish Muslims.

The reconquista also encouraged the raising of sheep in agrarian Castile, for the Castil­ians found that sheep produced higher and quicker profits than did their crops. And unlike crops, herds could be moved quickly out of harm's way during the constant warfare. When stockmen imported merino sheep from northern Africa in 1280, the Iberians bred them with their native stock. The new strain produced such a superior grade of wool that merchants in the international market eagerly sought the product, which brought handsome profits.

Cattle raising also flourished in the reconquered areas of southern Castile. In Andalusía, lords raised breeds of cattle that became widely known for the fine quality of their beef and hides. Seasonally, vaqueros, mounted herders, drove the stock cross-country from the northern summer grazing lands to winter in southern pastures. The vaqueros developed a distinctive dress and equipment, as well as cattle-ranching traditions and practices such as the rodeo (roundup) and the branding of calves for identification purposes, which were later transplanted to areas that came under Spain's dominance.

Compared to other various European urban centers that experienced economic downturns, Spain's cities witnessed a good deal of development, for in the process of reconquest, towns held down and consolidated the gains of battle. In return for their assistance in helping to regain territory from the Muslim “infidels,” towns received charters by which the king guaranteed townspeople the protection of their individual possessions and privileges and permitted them a semblance of self-governance. During this period, city inhabitants came to belong to ayuntamientos (city councils), which elected town officials. Furthermore, they organized hermandades (brotherhoods) responsible for maintaining the peace. This new form of municipal government replaced the old Roman administrative structure that had broken down following the arrival of the Muslims.