Monday, April 11, 2022

Booknotes: Identified With Texas

New Arrival:
Identified with Texas: The Lives of Governor Elisha Marshall Pease and Lucadia Niles Pease by Elizabeth Whitlow (Univ of N Texas Pr, 2022)

From the description: Elizabeth Whitlow's Identified with Texas "is the first published biography of Texas Governor Elisha Marshall Pease (1812-1883), presented by historian Elizabeth Whitlow as a dual biography of Pease and his wife, Lucadia Niles Pease (1813-1905). Pease volunteered to fight in the first battle of the Revolution at Gonzales, and he served with the Texan Army at the Siege of Bexar. Pease served in the first three state legislatures after Texas joined the Union in 1845, was elected governor in 1853 and re-elected in 1855, and returned to the governorship as an interim appointee from 1867 to 1869 during Reconstruction. His achievements in all these positions were substantial."

In regard to background information, I don't know much of anything about Pease during the Civil War and Reconstruction, so I'll defer to the trusty Handbook of Texas entry for Governor Pease. Among politically prominent Texas Unionists, Edmund Davis is much better known to Civil War students, even though Pease was a two-term governor in the 1850s. Pease adhered to Unionist principles throughout the war but was badly defeated by ex-Confederate officer and Indian commissioner James Throckmorton in the first gubernatorial election of the Reconstruction period. A leader in the Texas Republican party, Pease was appointed governor after General Sheridan removed Throckmorton from office the following year in 1867. According to the Handbook contributor, Pease clashed with just about everybody (military authorities, fellow Republicans, and ex-Confederates alike) and resigned in 1869, though he remained active in various political causes for many years afterward.

As noted above, Whitlow's book is a dual biography of Gov. Pease and his wife. More from the description: "Lucadia Niles Pease was known as the Governor’s “Lady.” Moreover, her early, independent travel and her stated position as a “woman’s rights woman” in the 1850s, as well as her support for sending a daughter away to college in the 1870s to earn a degree, all serve as markers of her intelligence and the strength of her convictions."

The author's task was aided immeasurably by the large amount of surviving source material, including the "thousands of letters and papers saved by the Pease family and housed in the Austin History Center of the Austin Public Library, as well as in the Governor’s Papers at the Texas State Library and Archives Commission." This volume looks like a useful means of exploring Civil War-era Texas Unionism and the life of a Reconstruction governor.

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