On this day in 1942, the United States government signed the Mexican Farm Labor Program Agreement with Mexico. Managed by several government agencies, including the Department of Agriculture, as a temporary, war-related measure to supply much-needed workers during the early years of World War II, the bracero (Spanish for "arm-man," or manual laborer) program continued uninterrupted until 1964. The agreement guaranteed a minimum wage of thirty cents an hour and humane treatment of Mexican farmworkers in the United States. During the first five years of the program, Texas farmers chose not to participate in the restrictive accord, opting to hire farmworkers directly from Mexico who entered the United State illegally. The abundant supply of labor brought into the United States legally finally enticed Texans to participate fully in the program. More than 4.5 million entered the United States during the twenty-two years of the program. Most never returned. Mexican agricultural workers, considered an unlimited supply of cheap labor, have been pawns to a host of economic, political, social, and humanitarian interests. Journalists such as Pauline Kibbe documented how poor wages, lack of educational opportunities for the children, malnutrition, poor sanitation, and discrimination have contributed to continued tension between Texas growers and migrant laborers and the federal government. Migrant workers have nonetheless continued to walk to the United States, legally or illegally.
On this day in 1941, Lt. Gov. Coke Stevenson became governor of Texas when Governor O'Daniel resigned to become a United States senator. Stevenson was self-made. His formal schooling consisted of seven three-month school terms. As a teenager he hauled freight between Junction and Brady. He studied history and bookkeeping by campfire light, worked as a bank janitor and then a cashier, studied law at night, and passed the state bar exam in 1913. Stevenson organized and became president of the First National Bank in Junction. After serving as county attorney (1914-18) and county judge (1919-21), he was a state representative from 1928 to 1939, when he was elected lieutenant governor. He was elected governor on his own in 1942 and served until 1947. He ran for the United States Senate in 1948 and lost in a famous contested race to Lyndon Johnson. Stevenson died in San Angelo in 1975.
On this day in 1836, at her home in Alabama, Mary Ann Adams married Samuel Augustus Maverick. The couple divided their time between Alabama and Texas until 1838, when they moved to San Antonio. In Texas Samuel had already been involved in the Texas Revolution and served as a delegate to the Convention of 1836. He became a leading land baron--the term "maverick," denoting an unbranded calf, derives from a herd of his cattle--and legislator. After her husband's death in 1870, Mary Maverick made efforts to see that the state's pioneer past was not forgotten. She was a prominent member of the San Antonio Historical Society and the Daughters of the Republic of Texas. She helped promote the annual Battle of Flowers celebration, and she served as president of the Alamo Monument Association for many years. Historians often refer to her watercolor sketch of the mission, and in 1889 she wrote a brief account of the fall of the Alamo. Her memoirs provide a vivid picture of life on the Texas frontier. She died in 1898.