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Texas in 1914-1918


Dallas in Texas
Dallas in Texas

Most Texans enthusiastically supported World War I. Texas had voted for Woodrow Wilson, Democratic governor of New Jersey, when he won the presidential election in 1912. Wilson was a Southerner and chose several Texans to serve in his administration. Almost 200,000 Texans served in the military services during the war, including more than 400 women who volunteered as nurses. A number of important army bases were built in Texas, and San Antonio in particular retained active military sites after the war ended. World War I created a connection between the Texas economy and the defense industry, and most Texans, including farmers, prospered in both the years preceding and during the war.

Racial and ethnic tensions, however, increased during the war years. Around military posts in the South, black soldiers objected to Jim Crow laws being applied on army posts and in the surrounding communities. A riot provoked by discrimination in Houston involving the all-black Third Battalion of the 24th United States Infantry ended with a court-martial that severely punished the soldiers involved.

The same surge of patriotism that demanded endorsement of the war effort identified German surnames as un-American. The legislature recommended that books or pamphlets praising German culture, for example, be withdrawn from the public schools, and some Germans in the Texas Hill Country and San Antonio were harassed and beaten. The Mexican Texans of South Texas were affected by border troubles. The fighting that followed the Mexican Revolution in 1910 had pushed immigrants north of the border to escape the war. In 1916 President Wilson sent the U.S. Army to pursue the rebel Mexican general Francisco (Pancho) Villa, who had raided several Texas towns, and Texas governor James Ferguson dispatched the National Guard and the entire Texas Ranger force to South Texas to maintain order.

Hundreds, perhaps thousands, were killed on both sides. Suspecting the new immigrants and the Hispanic population of complicity with the raiders, white Texans violated civil rights in attempts to identify bandit leaders. The Texas Rangers, in particular, were accused of indiscriminately brutalizing Mexican Texans; as a result, many Mexican Texans came to distrust legal authority, in particular the Rangers. After an investigation, the legislature reorganized the Rangers, reducing it to 4 regular companies of 17 men each. "Texas" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia.

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