Tomlinson Hill and the Democrats

Bill Neinast

It must be true.  I read it in the newspaper.

When this observation was in vogue, it had a grain of truth.  The first few pages of major newspapers that stuck to news had fairly accurate accounts of events. Then, as now, however, the editorial pages frequently strayed off the straight and narrow path.

Today, newspapers are being replaced by the internet.  Unfortunately, an inquiring mind has to be kept front and center when reading dispatches on the internet. 

A good rule of thumb to keep in mind when perusing the computer screen is, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is not true.  

When an item brings to mind a thought of “Right On!!,” be careful.    I am amazed at how many emails make me feel that way, but when the item is checked for accuracy, it is proved to be the figment of someone else’s imagination who just thinks the same way I do.

One of the most frequent deficiencies in the “news” is a failure to tell the whole story.  A good example of that failure to tell the truth, the WHOLE truth, and nothing but the truth appeared in this paper on Friday, August 22.

The sentence, “Texas conservatives have been preoccupied with white male superiority and control since Reconstruction” is in a Letter to the Editor from a leading spokeswoman for the local Democrat Party.  It is 100% true, but falls way short of telling the WHOLE truth.

Those preoccupied with white male superiority and control have been Democrats.

The whole story of Texas Democrats keeping former slaves “in their place,” segregating them in schools, denying them the vote, lynchings, etc. is detailed in a new 430 page book.

St. Martin’s Press’ first printing of Chris Tomlinson’s book, Tomlinson Hill was released six weeks ago. This is the story of the Tomlinson families of Marlin, Falls County, Texas, my wife’s home town.

The Tomlinsons were some of the wealthiest land and slave owners in that Brazos Valley county in the mid 19th Century.  As was customary, many of the slaves took the Tomlinson name when freed.

The author is an international journalist who decided to document the history of both the white and black Tomlinsons.  Sports fans will recognize LaDainain (LD) Tomlinson, an outstanding NFL player from Falls County, who wrote the foreword of the book.

Tomlinson Hill details the treatment of Black slaves in Texas before, during, and after the Civil War.  It does not paint the picture of benign trust and respect between owner and slave that Democrats have tried so hard to foist on history.

Mayors, governors, law enforcement personnel permitting and participating in the  hundreds of lynchings of Blacks merely suspected of wrongdoing are identified by name and by Democrat party affiliation.  All of this is documented and footnoted by court records, newspaper accounts, and verbatim accounts of the lives of former slaves and their descendants transcribed by WPA employees during the depression.

The manipulation of voting so that winning a Democrat primary, where Blacks were not allowed to vote, was tantamount to winning the office is described in detail.  Similarly, the requirement for the payment of a poll tax, which few Blacks could afford,  to vote in general election is documented.

Juxtaposed against these efforts of the Democrats to maintain the “white male superiority and control” discussed in the local Democrat’s Letter to the Editor mentioned above, were the Republican efforts to assist the freed slaves in getting all of the rights guaranteed to them by the Constitution.

This called to mind an interview of Condoleeza Rice when she was Secretary of State.  She was asked why she was a Republican.  Her reply was, “I was reared in Birmingham, Alabama.  When I was growing up, the Democrats would not let my Daddy vote, but the Republicans would.  So he became a Republican and that’s why I’m a Republican.” 

Although not mentioned in the book, the first Black elected to the Texas Senate was Republican
Matthew Gaines of Burton. Among the many issues that Republicans addressed were education, prison reform, the protection of Blacks at the polls, the election of Blacks to public office, and tenant-farming reform.

Also not discussed is the fact President L. B. Johnson’s civil rights legislation was passed only by Republicans overriding their Democrat colleagues in the Senate. Upon signing the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Lyndon Johnson is said to have told aide Bill Moyers, "I think we have just delivered the South to the Republican Party for a long time to come."

With this history, one has to wonder, “Who are those Texas conservatives mentioned in the letter?”  Looks like they must be Democrats.

So here’s the perspective.

It is hard to understand how any Black who knows and understands the history of the treatment of his or her ancestors in this state would vote for a Democrat, even for a lowly post like dog catcher.  As Chris and LD Tomlinson document, Democrats did everything in their power to maintain that white male superiority and control.

I have had personal experience with that hard to understand mindset.  Thirty years ago, when I was the first Republican to run for a local office in many years, I visited an elderly Black lady and asked for her vote.  This conversation occurred:

 “You Democrat or Republican?

“I’m a Republican Ma’am.

“Can’t vote for you.”

“Well why not Ma’am?

“Cause you’re a Republican.

“Well, Ma’am, do you know that Abraham Lincoln who freed your ancestors from slavery was a Republican?

“Don’t know about that.  But I can’t vote for you.”

Locally, the Democrats must still be telling the Blacks how to vote whenever and if ever they let them vote.


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