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Texas | Features | Books

Women and the Texas Revolution

Mary L. Scheer, editor.

((Denton: University of North Texas Press, 2012)
Illustrated, 244 pages. Paperback


Book Review by Dr. Kirk Bane

Historians have long neglected the role of women—whether Native American, Hispanic, Anglo, or African American—in the Texas Revolution of 1835-36. Originating as a roundtable discussion at the 2010 Texas State Historical Association meeting, this pioneering and much welcome anthology takes a tremendous step in correcting this omission.

Dr. Mary L. Scheer, professor and chair of the history department at Lamar University in Beaumont, has assembled an impressive team of contributors for this project. The eight essays comprising this superb volume include "Continuity, Change, and Removal: Native Women and the Texas Revolution" by Lindy Eakin (Kansas State-Olathe); "Tejanas: Hispanic Women on the Losing Side of the Texas Revolution" by Jean A. Stuntz (West Texas A&M); " 'Joys and Sorrows of Those Dear Old Times': Anglo-American Women During the Era of the Texas Revolution" by Scheer; "Traveling the Wrong Way Down Freedom's Trail: Black Women and the Texas Revolution" by Angela Boswell (Henderson State University); "Two Silver Pesos and a Blanket: The Texas Revolution and the Non-Combatant Women Who Survived the Battle of the Alamo" by Dora Elizondo Guerra (University of Texas-San Antonio); " 'Up Buck! Up Ball! Do Your Duty!': Women and the Runaway Scrape" by Light Townsend Cummins (Austin College); " 'To the Devil with Your Glorious History!': Women and the Battle of San Jacinto" by Jeffrey D. Dunn (San Jacinto Historical Advisory Board and Friends of the San Jacinto Battleground Association); and "Women and the Texas Revolution in History and Memory" by Laura Lyons McLemore (LSU-Shreveport).

Dr. Scheer's book, which won the Texas State Historical Association Liz Carpenter Award for Research in the History of Women in 2012, is exceptional. Devotees of state history, especially those interested in the Revolution or women's studies, will find it extremely valuable. But it is, in the end, a disheartening account because of the oppression faced by every woman in Texas—no matter her race.

"Overall," Scheer asserts in the insightful introduction, "the Texas Revolution had a profound effect on all Texas women. For native and Hispanic women the conflict did not alter their fundamental roles within their societies, but imposed a new political entity, which would ultimately lead to their loss of land, power, status, and even their lives. For black women the Texan victory guaranteed that the institution of slavery would continue firmly in place, ensuring future racial antagonisms. And for Anglo women, who were in a position to benefit the most, the Texas Revolution maintained the status quo in gender relations and failed to improve significantly their legal or economic status. Nevertheless, Texas women were at the center of the revolution and contributed, both directly and indirectly, to the Texas victory in 1836 and the subsequent creation of an independent nation. Despite the short term, immediate gains of independence over autocratic rule, on balance the Texas Revolution had long term negative consequences, socially, politically, and economically, for women's lives. For the foreseeable future, the revolutionary experience of Texas women would be far from 'revolutionary.' " How sad, how true.


Review by Kirk Bane, Ph.D.
Blinn College (Bryan campus)

March 11, 2015
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