On this day in 1865, during the final months of the Civil War, Governor Pendleton Murrah urged Texans to put aside personal ambitions and make sacrifices in defense of their liberty. Murrah, a native of either Alabama or South Carolina, had moved to Texas in 1850. After serving in the state legislature, Murrah was elected governor of Texas in 1863. As governor, he became involved in a series of controversies over control of the state's manpower and economy with Gen. John B. Magruder, the Confederate military commander of the Texas district, and his superior, Gen. Edmund Kirby Smith, commander of the Trans-Mississippi Department. In spite of these quarrels, Murrah supported Kirby Smith in his determination to carry on the war in the face of military reversals. Even after Lee's surrender, Murrah continued to urge resistance. When it was obvious that Union forces would occupy the state, he vacated his office, leaving Lieutenant Governor Fletcher Stockdale in charge, and joined other Confederate leaders fleeing to Mexico. The long trip was too much for Murrah, who suffered from tuberculosis. He was confined to bed upon reaching Monterrey and died on August 4, 1865.
On this date in 1942, Camp Hood was activated. The temporary camp, named for Confederate general John Bell Hood, is now one of the largest military bases in the world. It was officially opened on September 14, 1942, and has since been continuously used for armored training. By 1950 it was made a permanent base and renamed Fort Hood. Units from Hood have contributed significantly to all important overseas United States military actions since 1942. The installation, the largest piece of Texas owned solely by the federal government, has also been critically important economically and socially in the Killeen area.
On this day in 1985, former Texas governor Allan Shivers died suddenly of a massive heart attack. Robert Allan Shivers was born in Lufkin in 1907. His political career began at the University of Texas, where he was elected president of the Students' Association. In 1934 he became the youngest person ever elected to the state senate. He served in the U.S. Army from 1943 to 1945, when he was discharged with the rank of major, having earned five battle stars and the Bronze Star. In 1946 he was elected lieutenant governor; he was reelected two years later. When Governor Beauford H. Jester died in 1949, Shivers assumed the governorship, which he held effectively for the next 7½ years. During his tenure he pushed through significant legislation as well as reforms of state government, but he was probably best known for defending state claims to the Tidelands against the Truman administration. During the last years of his governorship his popularity diminished, due in part to his opposition to Brown v. Board of Education, which legally ended segregation. And even though Shivers was never implicated, his administration became tainted with corruption because of state scandals involving insurance and veterans' lands. After retiring from politics in January 1957, Shivers managed his business interests in the Rio Grande Valley and served on the boards of several banks and on the UT Board of Regents.
On this day in 1894, the Alianza Hispano-Americana was founded in Tucson, Arizona, by Carlos I. Velasco, Pedro C. Pellón, and Mariano G. Samaniego, as a fraternal benefit society. It fanned out across the rest of the Southwest over the next sixteen years, spreading to Texas by June 1906. It grew into the biggest and best known of the Mexican-American sociedades mutualistas in the Southwest. AHA was set up to offer life insurance at low rates and provide social activities for Mexican Americans. Its goals were similar to those of other fraternal aid groups in the United States, which began to multiply in the late nineteenth century among European immigrants. When AHA was established, most United States citizens could not depend on government social security programs, labor unions, or commercial life insurance to provide economic assistance to a family upon the loss of the chief family provider, usually the father. Besides tendering such services, AHA, like other mutual-aid groups, also sought to preserve the culture of its constituents and taught its members democratic traditions, such as free speech, by involving them in organizational activities.Texas-based AHA lodges were established in major cities, such as San Antonio and El Paso, but there were some affiliates in such small towns as Luling and Lytton. Expansion into Texas and other Southwestern cities in the 1910s improved services to the immense Mexican immigrant population that had been driven across the border by the Mexican Revolution. After 1929 the establishment of the League of United Latin American Citizens cut Texas participation in the AHA, and the AHA faded away in the 1960s.