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Republic of Texas authorizes Texas Rangers


On this day in 1835, Republic of Texas lawmakers instituted a special force known as the Texas Rangers. Stephen F. Austin had hired ten experienced frontiersmen as "rangers" as early as 1823, but the 1835 legislation formalized the organization. The importance of the rangers has waxed and waned several times over the ensuing century and a half. They participated in many notable battles with various Indian tribes and fought ably in the Mexican War; they also were dispatched to restore order during various feuds, border disturbances, and civic upheavals. In the early twentieth century, however, numerous acts of brutality and debauchery committed by rangers, especially against Hispanics, were brought to light, in large part through the efforts of J. T. Canales, and in 1933 governor Miriam A. Ferguson fired all forty-four rangers for their partisan support of her opponent Ross Sterling. When the Texas Department of Public Safety was founded in 1935, it assumed responsibility for a greatly reduced force. In subsequent decades, however, the rangers have once again come to be recognized as the elite of Texas law enforcement. Legendary rangers are honored in the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum in Waco.

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