Prominently displayed and probably the largest monument on the Texas Capitol Grounds is a misleading and historically inaccurate monument to the Confederacy. The Confederate Soldiers (or Dead) Monument was erected in 1903 and unveiled by S.W.T. Lanham, the last of the Confederate Governors. The monument is topped by a statue of Jefferson Davis – honoring a clear traitor to his country. The inscription on the west side of the monument can only be described as pure revisionist history – white supremacist bullshit.
Died for state rights guaranteed under the Constitution. The people of the South, animated by the spirit of 1776, to preserve their rights, withdrew from the federal compact in 1861. The North resorted to coercion. The South, against overwhelming numbers and resources, fought until exhausted.
Curiously, there is no explanation of how taking up arms and attacking your own country (ahem – Fort Sumter – which seems to always be conveniently forgotten by latter day Rebel sycophants) is somehow part of “states rights” – the code word for slavery and later segregation, voter suppression and Jim Crow laws. And the whole thing ignores the Texas Ordinance of Succession – one of the vilest, most racist screeds ever written – which leaves no doubt that Texas seceded to preserve slavery and subjugation of African-Americans.
Red doesn’t necessarily fault the average Rebel soldier who likely was looking for an adventure and a payday and was very likely misled into believing in a cause on the wrong side of history and didn’t really have a dog in the fight. But it is past time to clear the Texas Capitol Grounds of these vestiges of honoring American traitors such as Jeff Davis and his racist and un-American ilk.
From the Annals of the Death House – In 1982, Texas became the first state to use lethal injection to execute prisoners. The lethal dose was an intravenous injection of sodium pentathol – a barbiturate that is known as a “truth serum” when administered in lesser doses. Texas adopted the lethal injection procedure as a supposedly more humane method of executing those convicted of capital crimes. Over the next few years, 32 other states, the federal government, and the U.S. military all began using various forms of lethal injection to execute prisoners.
Charlie Brooks Jr., convicted for the murder of David Gregory, was the first prisoner in the U.S. to be executed by injection at the Walls Unit in Huntsville. Gregory, an auto mechanic at a used car lot, accompanied Brooks on a supposed test drive of a car. However, Brooks took Gregory back to a motel where he was hanging out and shooting heroin with Woody Lourdes and his girlfriend Marlene Smith after engaging in a shoplifting spree. Brooks shot and killed Gregory in an almost absurdly amateurish manner. Lourdes had informed the hotel manager that they had a man in the room who was bound and gagged and that they were going to have to kill him while pointing a revolver at the manager and telling her that he would kill her too if she talked. As such, the crime was easily discovered and solved. Brooks was sentenced to death. Lourdes was also sentenced to death but his conviction was reversed and he reached a plea deal to serve 40 years. David Gregory left behind a wife and young son.
The Texas Capitol Building prominently features a plaque honoring the Confederacy and proclaiming that the Civil War was not a rebellion and not about slavery. As Red has pointed out several times, all one need do is read the Texas Ordinance of Secession – a vile racist screed – to determine that the only reason Texas seceded was to protect its white citizens’ ability to own black slaves. And a lot of folks sure got killed in the non-rebellion that was the U.S. Civil War.
Red and others wonder why this disgusting piece of utter racist bullshit and revisionist history still has a place anywhere in the public space in Texas. Apparently former speaker Joe Strauss and incoming boss Dennis Bonnen both agree it should go. The hold up is likely our Poor Idiot Governor Abbott who is terrified of doing anything that might affect his right wing bona fides. The Texas Tribune has the full story.
In the middle of downtown Waco near the very popular Magnolia Market at the Silos is the site of Waco’s forgotten minor league baseball stadium – Katy Park. The stadium was razed in 1965 and is now a parking lot for MM. Before that, however, it was a major feature in the Waco landscape and hosted a number of teams including the Waco Pirates, a farm team for the Pittsburgh Pirates and a semi-pro team the Waco Missions. A number of MLB Hall of Famers including Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig played at KP. For more on the story of this historic site, check out the Waco Tribune.
From the Annals of the Plains – In 1873, Joseph Glidden of DeKalb, IL submitted an application to the U.S. Patent Office for barbed wire. Glidden’s was not the first barbed wire. His design was inspired by seeing an exhibit of Henry Rose’s single-stranded barbed wire at the De Kalb county fair. Glidden’s design significantly improved on Rose’s by using two strands of wire twisted together to hold the barbed spur wires firmly in place. The design was also easily mass-produced. By 1880 more than 80 million pounds of inexpensive Glidden-style barbed wire was sold, making it the most popular wire in the nation. Ranchers and farmers quickly discovered that Glidden’s wire was the cheapest, strongest, and most durable way to fence their property.
From the Annals of Equality – In 1919, the Texas House passed the Nineteenth Amendment which provided women with the constitutional right to vote. The Texas Senate passed the amendment on June 28. With the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment in August of 1920, Texas women finally had the full right of voting.
From the Annals of Jingoism – In 1898, Teddy Roosevelt arrived in San Antonio to recruit and train the First Volunteer Cavalry at the Menger Hotel. The FVC known to history as the “Rough Riders” was comprised primarily of college athletes, cowboys, ranchers, miners, and other outdoorsmen who could ride and shoot. Roosevelt recruited men from Texas and Oklahoma and the New Mexico and Arizona Territories thinking that they would be accustomed to the climate and terrain in parts of Cuba. Although technically a cavalry unit, the RRs were unable to bring transport most of their horses and mule train to Cuba due to a shortage of transport ships. All of their fighting in Cuba was done on foot.
The unit is of course most famous for the charge up San Juan Hill initiated and led by Roosevelt. The battle made TR a national figure and propelled the former Secretary of the Navy to become Governor of New York and ultimately President upon McKinley’s assassination.
From the Annals of Folk Art – In 1979, The Orange Show on 2401 Munger Street in Houston was opened to the public. TOS was conceived and built over a period of twenty-five years by Houston postman Jefferson D. McKissack. 1979. McKissack’s interest in oranges began while working as truck driver during the Depression. He developed a strong belief in the benefits of oranges and good nutrition and privately published How You Can Live 100 Years And Still Be Spry in 1960. Beginning in the mid-1950’s, McKissack built the exterior walls of what became TOS as part of his plant nursery on two vacant lots across the street from his bungalow. The real work began in 1962 when McKissack began work on his decades long project to create a folk art masterpiece around the orange theme. McKissack primarily used found objects and relics purchased from junk stores for his creations. Numerous signs and displays convey McKissack’s messages about the miraculous powers of the orange as a pure form of energy that “grows right out of the bloom, protected by the rind.”
McKissack believed that his creation would be a major tourist attractions because it “represents the entire multi-billion dollar orange industry.” He predicted that some 90 percent of the population of the U.S. would want to visit TOS. He was disappointed by the initial lack of enthusiasm and died of a stroke just seven months after the opening. Some of the earliest visitors, however, were members of Houston’s art community who became determined to preserve McKissack’s creation. In 1981 a group of twenty-two concerned citizens led by Marilyn Lubetkin, former president of CAM established the Orange Show Foundation and purchased McKissack’s creation from his heir. TOSF extensively restored and “improved” the site. The Orange Show is open to the public on weekends and holidays from March through December.