Her Majesty's Texans: Two English Immigrants in Reconstruction Texas

Overview

During Queen Victoria's reign, many working-class immigrants came to America. Because of their shared language, Anglo ethnicity, and familiarity with English-based customs, these immigrants rapidly blended into American life. John W. Leonard and J. W. L. "Will" Johnson were two such Englishmen; they came to Beaumont, Texas, in 1869, assimilated quickly, and became "invisible immigrants."

Living in Beaumont for almost fifteen years, Johnson and Leonard carved out careers as ...

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Overview

During Queen Victoria's reign, many working-class immigrants came to America. Because of their shared language, Anglo ethnicity, and familiarity with English-based customs, these immigrants rapidly blended into American life. John W. Leonard and J. W. L. "Will" Johnson were two such Englishmen; they came to Beaumont, Texas, in 1869, assimilated quickly, and became "invisible immigrants."

Living in Beaumont for almost fifteen years, Johnson and Leonard carved out careers as teachers, lawyers, and newspapermen. Johnson operated a school, edited the Neches Valley News, and helped organize the East Texas River and Harbor Improvement Association. Leonard established the Beaumont Enterprise and founded the town's first Episcopal congregation. Both became heavily involved in Reconstruction politics, adopting the racial and political attitudes of conservative white Texans. As fledgling Democrats, they worked to rebuild the party, defeat the Republicans, and thereby "redeem" the state.

In Her Majesty's Texans, Robert J. Robertson presents a fascinating story, recounting not only Johnson's and Leonard's business and political careers, but also their personal lives. Eager for adventures in the new land, sad at being far from home, hungry for money and position, and yearning for the love of Texas women, these young English Texans played hard at the games of life, winning some and losing others.

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Editorial Reviews

Ralph A. Wooster
"Robert J. Robertson has done a superb job in describing the activities of two young English cousins who came to Beaumont, Texas, during Reconstruction, became journalists and lawyers, and played a role in the overthrow of Republican rule in southeast Texas. In his account, based upon solid and imaginative research in primary and secondary sources, Robertson provides invaluable insights into life in a Texas community during the Reconstruction period. His work adds immensely to our understanding of the political, social, and cultural life in Reconstruction and late 19th century Texas. In addition, the work has an intriguing mystery sidelight—the disappearance of one of the cousins who leaves wife and children without explanation, assumes a new identity, and later reappears in California under an assumed name as a highly successful newsman. This is a volume that will be of interest to many different readers—students of Reconstruction, legal, journalistic, and educational professionals, and students of human nature."—Ralph A. Wooster, Lamar University, author of Texas and Texans in the Civil War
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Product Details

Meet the Author

ROBERT J. ROBERSTON, a businessman in Beaumont, Texas, is a leader in local and regional historical associations. He holds a master's in history from Lamar University and has published Texas history articles dealing with immigration, slavery, and politics.

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