H.R. No. 753 was unanimously adopted by "a rising vote" of the Texas House of Representatives on April 17, 2001, precisely 130 years from the day that Republican Governor Edmund J. Davis signed the bill into law that legally established the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas (modern-day TAMU), the state’s oldest public institution of higher education.
"WHEREAS, Matthew Gaines of Washington County, state senator and Baptist minister, was one of the foremost African American leaders in Texas during the second half of the 19th century; and WHEREAS, Born August 4, 1840, to a slave mother in Louisiana, Mr. Gaines settled in Burton, Texas, following Emancipation; he quickly rose to prominence as a politician and minister, and in 1869 he won a seat in the state senate, where he represented Washington County in the 12th and 13th legislatures; and WHEREAS, During his term of office, Mr. Gaines worked for many progressive measures; he supported and voted for a successful bill establishing a tax-supported public school system for all Texans, and he worked and voted for the successful enabling legislation that made possible the creation of Texas A&M University in 1871 and Prairie View A&M University in 1876; he further sought to advance education by sponsoring a successful bill to exempt educational, religious, charitable, and literary associations from taxation; and WHEREAS, A vigorous champion of African American interests, he worked unrelentingly for the militia bill in order to provide protection for blacks at the polling places; after the measure passed, he sought, without success, to secure the election of an African American to the U.S. House of Representatives; and WHEREAS, Mr. Gaines passed a bill authorizing his district to levy a special tax for the construction of a new jail, in order to protect newly freed slaves from mob violence, and he proposed an unsuccessful bill that would have given tenant farmers, most of whom were black, the first lien on their crops; and WHEREAS, In consequence of his activities, Mr. Gaines received numerous death threats and faced many attempts to smear his reputation; the political maneuvering of his enemies and the end of Reconstruction resulted in his ouster from the senate after only four years, but he continued to be active in politics and to speak out in many forums until his death in 1900; and WHEREAS, Mr. Gaines was a courageous advocate for genuine democracy and for the rights and interests of African Americans, and the descendants of this remarkable Texan, who still live in the vicinity of Washington County, have continued to contribute to and enrich their community; now, therefore, be it RESOLVED, That the House of Representatives of the 77th Texas Legislature hereby pay special tribute to the life of Matthew Gaines for his exceptional public service; and, be it further RESOLVED, That an official copy of this resolution be prepared for the descendants of Mr. Gaines as an expression of high regard by the Texas House of Representatives."
[Copy of H.R. No. 753, sponsored by Representative Kolkhorst (Republican--Washington County)]
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