'This Historic Liberalism of Texas'

Friends and Fellow Americans:
I wish first to talk with you about the history of our political heritage here in Texas—a heritage which is often erroneously described by speakers as a great conservative heritage.

The Republic of Texas was born in a rampaging sea of revolt. Men spoke and wrote boldly of their rights. It was not a conservative beginning. On the contrary it carried with it all the impact that a forward and thrusting liberalism of its time could muster.

Some men came to Texas out of a sense of adventure, but most came because of adversity. A substantial portion were hard-working but barely solvent farmers. A large number, as Stanley Seigel points out in his History of the Republic of Texas, left their homes in the old South one step ahead of the local sheriffs who were ready to imprison them for non-payment of debts. Others were regarded as out-and-out undesirables, and they came in such extensive numbers that Texas became known in some quarters as the "Botany Bay" of the United States.

Whatever they were—saints or sinners—they were not conservative and timid gentlemen. They moved over Texas fighting and dying for liberty with a Bible in one hand and a rifle in the other.

Early Documents

These early Texans were not mercenaries. Listen, listen to the vibrant liberalism of their documents of liberty—a symbol of hope for succeeding generations of the family of man.

From the Declaration of Independence of the Republic of Texas:

"The Mexican government has failed and refused to secure the right of trial by jury—that palladium of civil liberty.... It has failed to establish any system of public education... and unless a people are educated and enlightened it is idle to expect... the capacity for self government.... It has rendered the military superior to the civil power.... It denies us the right of worshiping the Almighty according to the dictates of our own conscience.... We, therefore, the delegates... in appealing to a candid world... do hereby resolve and declare that our political connection with the Mexican Nation has forever ended, and that the people of Texas do now constitute a free, sovereign, and independent Republic."

From Section two of the Bill of Rights of the Constitution of the Republic of Texas:

"All political power is inherent in the people, and all free governments are founded on their authority and instituted for their benefit; and they have at all times an inalienable right to alter their government in such manner as they think proper."

Here our Texas forefathers provided in the original constitution for the violent overthrow of government should it become necessary; and this same provision is in the present state constitution.

"Monopolies are contrary to the genius of a free government, and shall never be allowed" is a section in our state constitution which was first handed down to us by the men of 1836. No one pays any attention to that provision—least of all the state authorities in Austin.

Present Issues

Keeping in mind this historic liberalism of Texas, let us turn to the presidential year of 1960 and talk about some of the planks of the Democratic platform of which Senators Kennedy and Johnson are running.

(Maverick here read parts of two planks supporting jobs without discrimination and the rights of man for all men.)

We Americans who were born in revolution and we Texans who were born a second time in the crucible of revolt ought to be the first to understand that people all over the world want their rights and freedom irrespective of the color of their skin, be it on the East Side of San Antonio or on the African continent.

In other times portions of the world have revolted over issues of religion, taxation without representation, or the subjection of the civil authority by the military.

Today in this world that we live in, the question of race is the issue of the hour. The North Carolina AFL-CLO recently recognized this at its convention on March 18, 1960, when it unanimously passed a resolution expressing approval of the Negro student sit-ins.

Now will we Texans whose ancestors walked the bloody road to freedom past Gonzales, Goliad, the Alamo, and San Jacinto have compassion in our hearts for those who are now walking that same bloody road?

Admittedly this is a controversial subject, but as Senator Kennedy recently remarked, "... the United States today cannot afford to be either tired or Tory—meaning it cannot be reactionary.... However difficult, however discouraging, however sensitive these issues (of civil rights) must be—they must be faced."

The Democratic nominee for President of the United States is right for a number of reasons.

From the standpoint of common sense and the survival of the United States he is right—for this is a world more than three-fifths occupied by colored people who are watching America to see if it will live up to its written word.

This is a world where over 400 million colored people occupy India, a China with more than 650 million people, and an awakening Africa as large as the United States, Western Europe, India, and the Chinese mainland put together.

The United Nations had in the beginning only 51 member countries. Today, after new nations have thrown off the shackles of colonialism, there are 82 member nations, and a tomorrow there will be 100, with a large percentage of the increase coming from Africa.

Let no man talk smugly about minority groups of one kind or another. I—a white man—belong to the smallest minority in the world from a numerical standpoint. Therefore, let us all remember that all men are entitled to their basic constitutional rights, black or white, rich poor in Dallas' Highland Park, fat people, skinny people, Barry Goldwater, Jimmy Hoffa, or Lynn Landrum. This is so because of the Constitution of the United States of America and it is not contingent upon the outcome of some election or popularity contest in any of the many counties of the State of Texas.

Race and Economics

Now let's talk about grass roots pocket-book economics as it relates to the question of race.

I adopt the language of Boris Shiskin of the Department of Civil Rights, AFL-CIO: "When minority workers remain outside trade union ranks and do not have the benefits of union-maintained standards, they are forced to accept lower conditions and inferior benefits in their employment. They thus become the source of unfair competition undermining the prevailing union work-standards."

Mr. Shiskin, of course, is saying there that when a member of a minority group, solely because he is a minority, is prevented from carrying a union card, be it by management or especially so by organized labor—he is forced to scab to feed himself and his family and thereby takes you down with him. Prejudice, gentlemen, comes in expensive packages.

(At this point, Maverick spoke in favor of Democratic planks for medical care benefits for the aged as part of social security; a $1.25 hourly minimum wage and its extension to "the really poor, the helpless, and the unorganized"; welcoming "the world revolution"; help for classrooms and teachers; slum clearance and other federal aid to urban communities; collective bargaining and an end to "anti-labor excesses"; federal aid to the arts; and adequate U.S. military capacity.)

I have talked too long and so as I begin to conclude my remarks I think of a few of our fellow Americans who have touched this world and made it a better place.

I think of Abraham Lincoln. Surely no President ever knew the agony he did, and like all men who rise above the ordinary, there is a permanent freshness to his words.

In terms of the here and now and of this world we live in—I recall that Mr. Lincoln once said:

"The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise to the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves."

I think of Sam Houston, the old hero of San Jacinto, who went to his grave in East Texas a man hated by many for having refused to vote for the secession of Texas from the union, thereby proving to us that a man can love the people the most not only by agreeing with them—but sometimes by standing up to them.

I think of a cigar maker, Samuel Gompers, the first president of the American Federation of Labor, an office he retained with only one interruption from 1895 until he died on December 13, 1924, at San Antonio, Texas.

In my mind's eye I can see Gompers standing before this convention asking all of you—pointing his finger at you—"Do you care enough about freedom to let a man carry a carpenter's, or plumber's, or electrician's union card without reference to the color of his skin? Do not forget, gentlemen," Gompers seems to say to us, "that I know something about belonging to a minority—for I was an immigrant and a Jew."

And in conclusion I think about Franklin Roosevelt, who once wrote to me, "When the people in Texas are told the truth long enough and often enough you do not have to fear that they will not do the right thing. Lyndon Johnson will tell you that, your father will tell you that, and I tell you."

And I can see F.D.R. laboriously working his way to this speaker's rostrum—each of his legs in a prison of steel. There is silence and then once again the old man talks to us again:

"Listen to me you union men—will you answer the challenges of 1960? I told you what to do the day I died. I told you that the only limit to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today. Let us move forward with strong and active faith."

And now let's get on with facing the decisions of our times. Yes, let us move forward with strong and active faith.

Maury Maverick, Jr.

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