The Texas Farmers’ Revolt Article Review Example
The document selected for primary source analysis is the declaration by the Grand Alliance or organization comprised of farmers, to the federal and state governments in regards to their demands. After the end of the Civil War, farmers in the South experienced an especially difficult time due a variety of circumstances such as boll weevils, falling prices and the rise of industry. In addition, the majority of the farmers were tenants, meaning they did not own their own land, and farmed on a small scale. Farmers in a financial position to mechanize and adjust to the economic circumstances were able to survive, while those not so fortunate found their lives and livelihood seriously threatened. This document was authored by the membership of the Grand Alliance, as no specific author is noted, and is the result of the frustration these individuals felt against who they deemed were responsible for their situation, namely the government and big business, particularly the politicians, banks and railroads.
The purpose of this document is to outline the demands of the farmers in their quest to restore their position or at least improve upon it. The document is not meant to be a letter or simple missive, but an official political instrument or statement to capture the attention of the government, bank presidents and heads of the railroads in addition to the members of society at large. For instance, each statement includes the two words, “we demand” and the preamble
says “such legislation as shall secure to our people freedom from the onerous abuses that the industrial classes are now suffering at the hands of arrogant capitalists and powerful corporations.”
What can be gleaned from this document is the farmers definitely blamed the current structure of government and the increasingly industrial economy for their woes. Those parties were the ones in the upper echelon socially and economically. Hence they were the “haves” and the farmers “the have nots.” They felt the only way to repair the problem was not for them to transition with society, but to procure concessions from the government and business entities in order to ensure their survival and to improve their low socio-economic status. They sought to maintain their way of life rather than acquire another form of income. The farmers thought if they were vociferous enough and took a united stand, there was no way they could be completely ignored. Therefore, the strong nature, content and wording of the document, resulted from the utter despair they felt about being very poor and it is unclear whether this document was authored by the top members of the organization only. The document was produced, however, at the time of the meeting and events leading to this congregation had been escalating for some time. As a result of this the author or authors were witnesses to the event as well as participants.
The bias in this document is twofold. The document was written for a group of people by only elite leadership and quite possibly their concerns or platform would not have been voiced in that fashion, but then again, it comes into question how many of these individuals could read or
write. Therefore, did they realize what was written or just assured it was addressed? The second incidence of bias is the assumption that all other parties and society are the problem. If their demands are met, there is the automatic assumption they can go back to living their lives with no further dilemmas. It completely ignores the changing industrialization of the nation or the alterations in society due to that and the termination of slavery. Historians can overcome these biases by examining other documents of the time, the political circumstances and the societal situations. In this case, many scholars still have not determined whether this movement was progressive, reactionary or neither one.
The Grand Alliance, “The Texas Farmer’s Revolt,” Digital History, accessed on November 29,
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