Recent election of Republican Kay Bailey...


June 12, 1993

WITH THE recent election of Republican Kay Bailey Hutchison to take the U.S. Senate seat once held by Democrat Lloyd Bentsen, now secretary of the Treasury, the state of Texas has two GOP senators for the first time since Reconstruction.

Who were those long-ago Texas Republicans?

Let's note right at the outset that they were not carpetbaggers.

Morgan Calvin Hamilton was born in Alabama in 1809 and moved Austin in 1837.

There he became rich, served twice as secretary of war of the Republic of Texas, stayed put during the Civil War though he was a strong Unionist and became a leader of the Radical Republican faction after the war, parting political ways with his .. flamboyant younger brother, Andrew Jackson Hamilton.

"Ole Morg," as he was called, was considered a man of "unyielding consistency" and "Roman honesty," according to one contemporary account.

He detested the Ku Klux Klan, asserting its stronghold in Jefferson County should be "sowed with salt" and for a while pushed for the division of Texas into two or more states.

The other Republican senator from Texas in the 1800s was James Winright Flanagan.

He was born in Virginia, practiced law and was a circuit court judge in Kentucky and finally got to Texas in 1843 or 1844 (accounts differ). He was a lawyer, farmer, real estate agent, merchant and public official, according to Ernest Wallace's book, "The Howling of the Coyotes" -- coyotes in this sense being those who wanted to split up the Lone Star state.

Like Hamilton, he stayed in Texas during the war and operated a tannery, despite the fact that being a Unionist was hardly a ticket to popularity.

During Reconstruction, he too was aligned with the Radical Republicans, who in 1870 managed to control the state legislature which, in turn, sent the Hamilton-Flanagan team to the Senate in Washington.

Flanagan served until 1875, Hamilton until 1877. After that, Texas didn't send another Republican to the Senate until John G. Tower's victory in 1961. Eighty-four years.

Now there are two. And it's taken 116 years.

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THE MOTOR Vehicle Administration has often been criticized on this page for inefficiency. Therefore it is a pleasure to publish a good news item about it.

Recently, a colleague went to MVA headquarters on Ritchie Highway to renew his tags. He was in and out in four minutes flat. No hassle.

True, our colleague visited the MVA office around the middle of the month -- just a little too late to rely on the mail -- and in mid-afternoon, probably the best time to go. Still, that's pretty good service.

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