An Ostrich-Plumed Hat: Chapter Nineteen

Begin with Chapter One ~ Return to Chapter Eighteen

Former Governor Thomas Mitchell Campbell, February 1912

Thomas Campbell leans over his office desk toward his chosen candidate, Judge William Franklin Ramsey. “Going home to announce your gubernatorial campaign represents sound strategy. Gonzales always embraces you enthusiastically. Plus, it’s close enough to San Antonio to irk those brewers, particularly when the opening of your speech urges passage of an act prohibiting them and their saloonkeepers from making political contributions.” 

The Judge nods in agreement. “The domination of this state by liquor interests is shameless. Their stranglehold must be broken.”

Thomas tries not to sound dictatorial, but he has been down this road before. He knows what it is like to campaign against someone backed by unlimited cash. “You need to enumerate their infractions—the fraudulent payment of poll taxes and the outright purchase of votes and politicians. The Attorney General can’t possibly enforce the laws of Texas with a despot head of state refusing to fund his office. The scoundrels try to get around the Robertson-Fitzhugh Law by claiming paying a poll tax is enough for a liquor dealer to qualify for a license. Obviously, the intent of the law is to mandate that, if a man wants a license to sell liquor, he must hold property and pay taxes on it. And now Galveston saloonkeepers are escaping punishment after flagrantly abusing Sunday closing laws. The poor Attorney General. Defendants are acquitted before his signature even dries on the case files. He’s throwing in the towel now. Fifty cases were dismissed last week, and another seventy-two cases this week. The Governor just winks at his Anti-friends as he pretends to profess concern for enforcement of the existing laws.”

Judge Ramsey echoes Thomas’ passion. “We need more laws. Saloons must close before the sun sets so men repair to their homes to spend time with their wives and children. We must banish saloons from residential neighborhoods. If we can’t rid Texas of saloons, let’s double the taxes those dens of immorality pay.”

“I was too polite during the last election. Judge, you must take your gloves off. Don’t be timid. Gird on you armor for an assault against the evils brought on by beer Bourbonism and booze. Attack the Governor immediately. Make him feel as though he’s been flattened by a train. The Governor failed to deliver what Texans need and want. Expose his niggardly ways. Promise good roads. Promise free textbooks.”

New library at University of Texas Austin

The Judge’s face reddens as his voice rises. “That stunning new library at the University of Texas, Thomas? A waste. Of what use is a library with empty shelves?”

“None! And the Governor’s slogan, ‘Political Peace and Legislative Rest,’ is ripe for ridicule.”

The Judge searches for a slogan to counter it. “It’s not our legislators who need a rest. The current occupant of the Governor’s Mansion needs a rest.”

“We must develop something catchier. Ousting Captain Bolmes as Commissioner of Pensions was a grave error. I arranged for forty Confederate veterans to serve as your ‘Old Guard’ in Gonzales. Texans are extremely sentimental about the men in gray who fought valiantly for their lost cause. Armed with long-handled brooms, the gray-bearded Confederates will follow the Luling Brass Band in the procession, fanning up support in the crowd by proclaiming ‘A Clean Sweep for Ramsey.’”

The Judge claps his hand together. “I’ll pledge to appoint one of the heroes from Terry’s Texas Rangers to oversee the Office of Pensions.”

“We’ve reserved three trains to transport the crowds to Gonzales. The fairgrounds will be overwhelmed, but we’ll have enough barbeque on hand to feed 6,000 people. And if that brewer in San Antonio is not bowled over by the sheer size of crowd, he’ll squirm uncomfortably when he hears the news of your arrival with a respected San Antonian sitting at your side in the automobile, Judge Leroy Denman.

“I have it now—how to satirize the Governor’s ‘Political Peace and Legislative Rest.’ Label any extension of his time in office as a continuation of political hell and legislative rust. Judge, you will find yourself in the Governor’s mansion shortly.”

Footnotes

Loved the way the politicians dusted off the old Confederate veterans to help with the campaign, but the actual political slogans seem tepid at best.

Continue to Chapter Twenty

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