Gregg Cantrell, Ph.D.


Gregg Cantrell was born in Sweetwater, Texas and raised in Cooper, Roswell (NM), and Abilene. He graduated from Abilene Cooper High School and majored in Management at Texas A&M (1979), where I also earned an MBA (1980). I later returned to A&M for a PhD in History (1988).

He is a Professor of History and the Erma and Ralph Lowe Chair in Texas History at Texas Christian University (TCU).  He previously taught at the University of North Texas for three years, Hardin-Simmons University for two years, and Sam Houston State University for ten years. He is a three-degree Texas Aggie, but these days has divided loyalties between A&M and TCU. 

He was trained in the field of Southern History by his mentors Dale T. Knobel, Robert A. Calvert, and Walter L. Buenger. Most of his work has focused on the state of Texas, and his early work dealt with the intersection of race and politics in the South. He wrote a biography of Stephen F. Austin and more recently a book on the Texas People's Party with Yale University Press. He coauthored a college-level textbook, coedited an anthology on history and collective memory in Texas, and has published a number of scholarly articles and essays.


Kenneth and John B. Rayner and the Limits of Southern Discontent

In this fascinating story of two nineteenth-century southern political mavericks, Gregg Cantrell details their fate as dissenters, telling a human story at once heroic and shameful, hopeful and tragic. The two mavericks were the slaveholding congressman and planter Kenneth Rayner of North Carolina and his illegitimate mulatto son, John B. Rayner of Texas.
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Stephen F. Austin: Empresario of Texas

The Texas State Historical Association is pleased to offer a reprint edition of Stephen F. Austin: Empresario of Texas, Gregg Cantrell’s path-breaking biography of the founder of Anglo Texas. Cantrell’s portrait goes beyond the traditional interpretation of Austin as the man who spearheaded American Manifest Destiny. Cantrell portrays Austin as a borderlands figure who could navigate the complex cultural landscape of 1820s Texas, then a portion of Mexico. His command of the Spanish language, respect for the Mexican people, and ability to navigate the shoals of Mexican politics made him the perfect advocate for his colonists and often for all of Texas. Yet when conflicts between Anglo colonists and Mexican authorities turned violent, Austin’s accomodationist stance became outdated. Overshadowed by the military hero Sam Houston, he died at the age of forty-three, just six months after Texas independence. Decades after his death, Austin’s reputation was resurrected and he became known as the “Father of Texas." More than just an icon, Stephen F. Austin emerges from these pages as a shrewd, complicated, and sometimes conflicted figure.
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The People's Revolt: Texas Populists and the Roots of American Liberalism

In the years after the Civil War, the banks, railroads, and industrial corporations of Gilded‑Age America, abetted by a corrupt political system, concentrated vast wealth in the hands of the few and made poverty the fate of many. In response, a group of hard‑pressed farmers and laborers from Texas organized a movement for economic justice called the Texas People’s Party—the original Populists. Arguing that these Texas Populists were among the first to elaborate the set of ideas that would eventually become known as modern liberalism, Gregg Cantrell shows how the group broke new ground in reaching out to African Americans and Mexican Americans, rethinking traditional gender roles, and demanding creative solutions and forceful government intervention to solve economic inequality. Although their political movement ultimately failed, this volume reveals how the ideas of the Texas People’s Party have shaped American political history.

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TSHA Positions

Handbook Entries

Title Contributor Type
Rayner, John Baptis Author
Townsen, James Madison Author
Texas in the Early Twenty-first Century Author

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