Words of enticement: The effort to attract immigrants to Texas, 1865-1914
- Publication date
AbstractTexans, native and adopted, have continually broadcast the advantages of moving to their state. Over the years they believed an investment of time and energy meant they could influence this flow of migration. A prodigious outpouring of such enticement literature, as identified in this research, documents the enthusiasm such endeavors possessed. Newspapers around the state, almanacs, business pamphlets, railroad brochures, both personal and published letters, as well as government documents, all contributed to this outgoing flood of information. The multiple campaigns of boosterism were fueled in some sense from the heavy migration into the state--this migration justifying by its presence the perception that the written words did in fact move people.
The desire to entice immigrants (a term defining people not by their ethnicity but by their mobility) to Texas found voice immediately after the Civil War. The chaos resulting from war and the freeing of the slaves seemed overwhelming to landowners and they called for cooperative efforts to encourage immigrants to "Come to Texas." As the early turmoil settled out into the rhythm of agricultural seasons, urgent pleas for immigrants became a more steadied ongoing effort at advertising the values in moving to Texas. The Texas Bureau of immigration, born through the 1869 constitution, served as an official state agency facilitating immigration. When the 1876 "redeemer" constitution became law, it included a prohibition against using tax money "for any purpose of bringing immigrants to the State." Research indicates that such an interdiction was not evidence of anti-immigrant feeling, but rather a desire for fiscal retrenchment.
Private initiative stepped into the vacuum thus created, as the flow of written material continued. Immigration societies published material, individuals wrote letters, businesses produced pamphlets, newspapers generated columns of information, and books of many shapes and sizes joined in the effort to entice newcomers. Yet, another part of the story was the determined work of Galveston's citizens to promote their bay as the premier port for the state and the ideal entryway for the immigrant. The value placed on words by Texans was substantial and the resulting migration into Texas sustained that work