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Documents from Texas Elections

November 6, 2008

In the spirit of the elections held earlier this week, this entry highlights some materials in the DRT Library’s manuscript and book collections that document elections held throughout 120 years of Texas history.

Letter, Juan Martin de Veramendi, Leona Vicario [Saltillo], Coahuila y Tejas, to José Antonio Navarro, 1833 March 2, DOC 6813, Daughters of the Republic of Texas Library, San Antonio, Texas.

Veramendi was an influential San Antonio native who in 1833 was the Governor of Coahuila y Tejas and James Bowie’s father-in-law. In this letter – which was also signed by Juan Delgado, Jose Melchor Sanchez Navarro, and Jose Maria de Goribar – he notifies Jose Antonio Navarro of his election to the Mexican Congress. Also a native of Bexar, Navarro became a “leading Mexican participant in the Texas Revolution.”


Juan Martin de Veramendi to Jose Antonio Navarro

Juan Martin de Veramendi to Jose Antonio Navarro, 1833.

Letter, P. R. Lilly, Montgomery, Texas, to Chas. B. Stewart, Montgomery, Texas, 1842 February 17, DOC 9613, Daughters of the Republic of Texas Library, San Antonio, Texas.

In this letter, Lilly announces his intention to challenge Stewart‘s election as District Clerk for Montgomery County. Stewart was a signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence and held several political offices; he is also “credited with drawing the original draft of the Lone Star flag.”

Montgomery February 17th 1842

Chas B Stewart Esq

Sir

As the law provides in cases of contested elections I herewith notify you of my intention to contest your election to the office of District Clerk for Montgomery County which was held on the first Monday in this month – for divers good causes, amongst those which I shall set forth in my argument are that the returns from the Montgomery box were not made in accordance with law, that non-residents were suffered to exercise the right of suffrage, which I shall make appear when permitted to [illegible] the voters names at the Montgomery box – that the returns from Crawfords, from [illegible] from Carolina and from other pecincts [sic] were not made as the law prescribes, and other causes shall be exhibited in my argument which I deeem [sic] worthy of notice as coming within the perview [sic] of the statute regulating elections – I shall submit my argument to the chief Justice on Saturday the 19th of the present month – when & where you will please appear & make defence [sic] if any defence you have

All of which is respectfully submitted

Yours Respectfully

P. R. Lilly

First page of P. R. Lilly's 1842 letter to Charles B. Stewart.

First page of P. R. Lilly's 1842 letter to Charles B. Stewart.

Second page of P. R. Lilly's 1842 letter to Charles B. Stewart.

Second page of P. R. Lilly's 1842 letter to Charles B. Stewart.

Certificate of Election, State of Texas, 1902 December 15, William Lewis Davidson Papers, DOC 11151, Daughters of the Republic of Texas Library, San Antonio, Texas.

Signed by Governor Joseph D. Sayers and Secretary of State John G. Tod, this document certifies that, having received 300,651 votes, William Lewis Davidson was elected as a judge in the Court of Criminal Appeals.

Certificate of Election for William Lewis Davidson, 1902

Certificate of Election for William Lewis Davidson, 1902.

Printed handbill, “Fergusonism vs Capitalism” by Charles E. Coons, [1930], DOC 2811, Daughters of the Republic of Texas Library, San Antonio, Texas.

This document promotes the gubernatorial candidacy of Miriam A. (“Ma”) Ferguson and attacks Ross S. Sterling, her opponent in the second Texas Democratic primary of 1930. Although Sterling defeated her in that election, Ferguson won her second term in office by defeating him and Republican candidate Orville Bullington. The central argument made by Coons in this handbill is summarized in the final paragraph of this document:

“Are you prepared to take your place in the front ranks, of this battle of the rich against the poor, the high against the low, the great against the small. Let me admonish you to resolve at once to go to the ballot box and pole your vote on August 23rd for Ross S. Sterling, multimillionaire friend of foreign corporations, or for Miriam A. Ferguson, the home loving, God serving friend of the common people.”

Front of printed handbill, "Fergusonism vs Capitalism"

Front of printed handbill, "Fergusonism vs Capitalism."

Institute of Public Affairs, University of Texas. A Handbook for Texas Voters. Austin, Texas: The University of Texas, 1953.

This is a selection of pages from the 53 page Handbook. Notice the mention of the poll tax, which was used to disinfranchise African Americans and in Texas also kept Mexican Americans from voting. Poll taxes were prohibited in elections for federal officials by the 24th Amendment to the Constitution in 1964.

"Who May Vote in Texas," from the Handbook for Texas Voters, 1953

"Who May Vote in Texas," from the Handbook for Texas Voters, 1953.

Institute of Public Affairs, University of Texas. “Facsimile of the General Election Ballot Used in 1952” in A Handbook for Texas Voters. Austin, Texas: The University of Texas, 1953.

In addition to this facsimile ballot, the Handbook also includes reproductions of ballots used in the 1952 first and run-off Democratic primaries. This image is only of the top half of the ballot.


Facsimile ballot for the 1952 election, from the Handbook for Texas Voters, 1953.

Facsimile ballot for the 1952 election, from the Handbook for Texas Voters, 1953.

Click here for a full citation of the documents and images included in this entry.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Adam Michalski permalink
    November 13, 2008 4:01 pm

    Is there any reason why several of the candidates are listed as both Democrats and Republicans on the ballot?

  2. Caitlin Donnelly permalink
    November 14, 2008 12:04 pm

    The 1952 “Handbook for Texas Voters” offers this (rather cryptic) explanation in the chapter “Nominations for the General Election”:

    “Cross Filing: Prior to the 1951 session of the legislature no candidate could have his name appear on the ballot more than once except as a candidate for two or more offices which the state constitution permits one person to hold. Under the election code passed by the Fifty-second Legislature a candidate in the general election may be the nominee of two or more political parties and have his name appear in the column of each party for the same office.

    “The Republican state convention in 1952 cross-filed fifteen* of the Democratic candidates for state-wide offices, who had been nominated in the Democratic primary, in an effort to induce normally Democratic voters to support the Republican presidential ticket. Democratic candidates were also cross-filed by the Republicans in a few other races. An unsuccessful effort was made in 1952 to get the September Democratic state convention to cross-file the Republican presidential ticket. It did, however, advise all Democrats to vote for that ticket” (17).

    *Footnote: “Only one of the Democratic candidates refused to have his name appear in the Republican column on the general election ballot” (17).

    It should be noted that at this time, the Democratic, not the Republican, party was dominant in Texas. As the “Handbook,” explains, “in state and local elections in Texas and in most of the South, the Democratic party enjoys a practical monopoly…the Republican party scarcely exists in Texas for state and local purposes” (22).

    For more information about the evolution of political parties in Texas, please see the “Handbook of Texas Online” at http://www.tshaonline.org.

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