The U.S. Army and the Texas Frontier Economy, 1845-1900

978-0-89096-882-6 Cloth
6.125 x 9.25. 320 pp. 15 b&w photos., 7 maps., 13 tables.
Pub Date: 08/01/1999
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Seventy million dollars in fifty-five years. From Texas' annexation in 1845 until the turn of the twentieth century, the U.S. Army pumped at least that much or more into the economy of the fledgling state, a fact that directly challenges the popular heritage of Texas as the state with roots of pioneer capitalism and fervent independence. In The U.S. Army and the Texas Frontier Economy, 1845–1900, Thomas T. Smith sheds light on just who bankrolled the evolution of Texas into viable statehood. Smith draws on extensive research gathered from both government archives and Texas army posts in order to evaluate the symbiotic relationship between army quartermasters and the economy of the young state. Texas was the army's largest—and most costly—engagement, absorbing up to thirty percent of the total operating budget and channeling that currency into the commercial development of its frontier. Smith expands on historian Robert Wooster's theory that the military was engaged in an alliance with the political authority in Texas, and using documents such as army contracts for freighting, foraging, and fort leasing, he illustrates how federal fiscal activity spurred commercial growth for the citizens of Texas. Besides the obvious development of towns on the skirts of military bases and of roads between them, the establishment of military spending as a bedrock of the Texas economy and the protector of middle class interests shaped the future of the state's commercial prosperity. Writing with exceptional detail and clarity, Smith traces the emergence of the army's influence and includes analyses of information on army spending and development such as the introduction of army weather and telegraph services to the state, as well as accounts of real estate transactions involving the fort building program. Smith also accounts for army failures, maintaining that no one was truly prepared for the reality of western expansion. As an examination of the complex yet mutually beneficial economic relationship between the nation and the state, The U.S. Army and the Texas Frontier Economy, 1845–1900 is ideal for anyone interested in the early days of the state as well as in U.S. military and frontier history.

Williams-Ford Texas A&M University Military History Series

Published by Texas A&M University Press