"CONTRARY TO POPULAR MISCONCEPTIONS...."


A statement by Aggie faculty members in defense of the movement to erect a statue to an ex-slave on the Texas A&M University campus (see The Battalion, February 2, 1999, p. 6.)


"CONTRARY TO POPULAR MISCONCEPTIONS, there is nothing 'historically unclear'* about the connection between Matthew Gaines and the establishment of the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas. In April of 1871 while serving as a senator representing the 16th district in the 12th Texas Legislature, Gaines, and every other legislator of African descent, voted for Senate Bill No. 276 that allowed Texas to take advantage of the 1862 Land Grant College Act. This Republican party inspired program set aside several million acres of federal land for the support of agricultural and industrial higher education. (The 1871 bill to establish the A. and M. College of Texas obligated the creation, if state officials chose to segregate white form black students, of another federally supported land-grant school for blacks, which subsequently became Prairie View State Normal and Industrial College.) Nor do scholars in any reputable university or college today deny or disparage the accomplishments of Texans of African, Mexican, and German ancestry who after the Civil War tried to build an interracial democracy on the ashes of slavery. The leadership role during Reconstruction played by Matthew Gaines in establishing Texas' first state supported public school system and first venture into higher education for all Texans is a matter of public record."

“As members of the university faculty, we have an obligation to say what we know and to support what we believe is correct. Because our university will soon enter the 21st century, it is a fitting time to look back to the enabling legislation passed in 1871. Indeed, “Vision 2020” represents a commitment to academic excellence that will magnify our school’s unique origins. In a university rich with tradition, and as the first public institution of higher learning in our state, it is appropriate to honor our beginnings a century and a quarter ago, and to commemorate the early steps for a free public education for all Texans. Because we stand today as the nation's only federal land, sea, and space grant university, we encourage all Aggies to look back with pride to our beginnings, when courageous and farsighted Texas legislators, both black and white, came together to establish the "Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas."

Signed by:

Ben E. Aguirre
Professor of Sociology

Armando C. Alonzo
Assistant Professor of History

Sara Alpern
Associate Professor

Harriette Andreadis
Associate Professor of English

Judith A. Baer
Professor of Political Science

Dennis A. Berthold
Professor of English

Walter L. Buenger
Associate Professor of History

Jon R. Bond
Professor of Political Science

Daniel E. Bornstein
Associate Professor of History, and Director, Religious Studies Program

James C. Bradford
Associate Professor of History

Albert S. Broussard
Associate Professor of History and Elton P. Lewis Faculty Fellow

John Canup
Associate Professor of History

Jonathan Coopersmith
Associate Professor of History

Joseph G. Dawson
Associate Professor of History, and Director, Military Studies Institute

Chester Dunning
Associate Professor of History

Marian Eide
Assistant Professor of English

Susan B. Egenolf
Lecturer in English

Roy B. Flemming
Professor of Political Science

Maria-Cristina Garcia
Associate Professor of History

Cecelia E. Hawkins
Senior Lecturer in English

Patricia A. Hurley
Professor of Political Science

M. Jimmie Killingsworth
Professor of English

Arnold P. Krammer
Professor of History

Pamela R. Matthews
Associate Professor of English, and Director, Women’s Studies Program

John J. McDermott
Distinguished Professor of Philosophy

Kenneth J. Meier
Professor of Political Science and Holder of the Charles Puryear Professorship

Ernest Obadele-Starks
Assistant Professor of History

Paul A. Parrish
Professor of English

Marco Portales
Professor of English

Robert P. Resch
Associate Professor of History

James M. Rosenheim
Associate Professor of History

Richard W. Stadelmann
Associate Professor of Philosophy and Humanities

Anthony N. Stranges
Associate Professor of History

C. Jan Swearingen
Professor of English

Lynne M. Vallone
Associate Professor of English

Paul P. Van Riper
Professor Emeritus of Political Science

Larry W. Yarak
Associate Professor of History

Danny Yeager
Professor of Chemistry


[*] "Historically unclear: Despite debate among scholars, role of black senator in A&M founding gains support among students," The Battalion, November 10, 1998. The Battalion endorsed the movement to commemorate the accomplishments of Gaines in an earlier editorial: "Matthew Gaines: The former senator deserves recognition for his contributions," The Battalion (July 27, 1995), p. 5. The Matthew Gaines Memorial Committee was originally formed in 1994 to support a statue of State Senator Matthew Gaines for Texas A&M University. The statue would honor Senator Gaines's contributions to the establishment of free public education and the passage of the legislation which allowed the State of Texas to accept the Morrill Land Grant College Act. The following statement describes Matthew Gaines and his accomplishments:


Former slave, community leader, minister, Republican
State Senator and courageous leader in the 12th Legislature,
which established free public education in the State of
Texas and enabled the founding of Texas A&M University



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