Island city: The story of Galveston on the eve of secession, 1850--1860
Fornell, Earl Wesley
Doctor of Philosophy
Many works have been written concerning the Texas cattle country, the Great Plains, the cowboy, the famed Texas Rangers, and other subjects related to the vast inland-orientated aspects of the history of the state. The story of the exciting days of the Republic has also been the subject of numerous studies. In contrast, little has been written concerning the sea-orientated areas of the state, and the period of Texas history from the end of the Mexican War until the Reconstruction has not yet been made the subject of careful historical analysis. Thus, one of the most neglected subjects of historical study has been the Texas Gulf Coast in the formative period of the 1850's and the critical years of the War between the States. At the outset this study was intended to deal with the Galveston Coast during the period from statehood through the War; however, a closer examination of the topic at the actual research level indicated that this time delineation was too large for one book and that no satisfactory study of the Civil War period could be made without first developing an analysis of the formative period of the late forties and the fifties. In fact, while the war years may appear to be more worthy of study and perhaps more colorful, the decade before the war was actually much more important from the historical point of view because those were the years in which Texans determined the profile of their own future. Once the decision had been made to go into cotton production by means of slave-labor as the major economic enterprise of the state, and once the decision to secede had been reached, what happened to Texas during the war and reconstruction periods was beyond the control of Texans, being determined by events in a larger arena. Galveston was chosen as the nucleus of the study rather than the Gulf Coast as a whole, because in terms of trade, banking and journalism the Island dominated the coastal area. In fact, the city, the largest in Texas, was known as the "Queen City" of the Gulf. This study does not pretend to be a complete history of Galveston in this period, rather the intention has been to focus on the major issues and major personalities that dominated life in the cosmopolitan metropolis in those critical years, 1845--1861.