Unionists, Populists, Socialists: Mississippi and Texas

This is my first post since “Guerrilla Wars” that highlights the East Texas component of Long Shadow of the Civil War. The essay “Civil War Unionists as New South Radicals: Mississippi and Texas, 1865-1920” links Warren J. Collins of Hardin County, Texas, to his brother, Jasper J. Collins, of Jones County, Mississippi. Newt Knight also makes regular appearances in this essay, since Jasper Collins was his 1st sgt. in the Knight band (See Knight Company roster, 1870).

This essay picks up after the Civil War, tracing the migration of Collins and related families to East Texas, but most especially tracing the political evolution of the brothers, Warren J. and Jasper J. Collins, into the 20th century.

Although Warren and Jasper lived in separate states, both became populists during the late 19th century, continuing their wartime rejection of conventional politics. In fact, Jasper and his son, Loren, founded Ellisville’s only known populist newspaper! Around the same time that Jasper joined the People’s Party, he also left the Baptist church to help found a Universalist Church in Jones County.

By 1910, Warren J. Collins was a socialist, although his son, Vinson, was a Democratic state senator in Texas.  I’ve found no evidence that Jasper joined the Socialist Party, but a small number of his Jones County kinfolk did.

I think you’ll be struck, as I was, by the fiercely independent political views of certain Collinses and Collins kin, during and long after the Civil War–and across state lines.

NOTE: For those interested in learning more about populists and socialists in Mississippi, I highly recommend the work of historian Stephen Cresswell. For Texas, see Gregg Cantrell, Lawrence Goodwyn, and James R. Green.

4 replies »

  1. Hello folks,
    I am working on a documentary film about Eugene Victor Debs who ran for president of the U.S. five times on the Socialist Party ticket. I am hoping you can help locate some photos of socialist encampments that took place in Oklahoma and Texas during the years 1906-1916. There was one very famous socialist encampment in Grand Saline, TX where Debs, Mother Jones and others spoke to the farmers and other workers from the region. I am also interested in any archival photo (manuscript, advertisement, broadside, leaflet, etc.) of a socialist gathering of Debs or others speaking as well.I am a professional doc. filmmaker. Thank you in advance for your efforts.


  2. Hello folks I am now heavy into the editing of my film AMERICAN SOCIALIST: THE LIFE AND TIMES OF EUGENE VICTOR DEBS. Does anyone have any photos of Debs, socialist encampments, rallies, IWW, socialist speakers anything like this form Texas, Mississippi, Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, etc. thanks in advance for your effort. Yale Strom


  3. My film documentary American Socialist: The Life and Times of Eugene Victor Debs is now out with http://www.firstrunfeatures.com and it has a section on the socialist encampments that were held in the years prior to WWI in Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Louisiana as well as a section on the poverty of the tenant farmers at that time.


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