Jeff Davis Was Trying To Go To Texas


Jeff Davis, he was trying to go to Texas.
Thought that he could find some Rebels there.
Robert Lee already had surrendered.
Loss lay heavy in the Southern air.
He tried to sneak across, from down in Georgia
While all the rest, they fled to anywhere.
But Jeff Davis, he was trying to go to Texas
Thought that he could find some Rebels there.

They teach us all these stories of “Our Texas”
Crockett, Goliad, the Alamo.
And some celebrate the Juneteenth proclamation.
But it was 3,000 troops that made it so.
And up in Dallas, Allen Brooks drew crowds of thousands
They sold postcards, like it was a county fair.
Cause Jeff Davis, he was trying to go to Texas
Thought that he could find some Rebels there.

It was deep in the heart
It was right from the start
The heroes we claim
But all of all ones
All of the ones we’ve never named.

We like to say you’re welcome, here in Texas
And that everyone’s your neighbor and your friend
And that hearts are broad and wide, like blackland prairie
And those stars up in that sky that never ends.
The summer Sage perfume, still blooms so sweetly
That you hardly smell the stench still in the air.
Cause Jeff Davis, he was trying to go to Texas
Thought that he could find some Rebels there.

Copyright @ 2024, Eric Folkerth.
All Rights Reserved.


Back in May, Steve Brooks and I found ourselves in a late night Kerrville song circle and he shared a song about how “he loves Texas, but Texas doesn’t love him.”

What ensued was a talk I’ve had with many more Progressive Texans over the past few years. Some people are leaving…Mexico, New Mexico, Colorado. They say they no longer recognize their state and what it’s becoming.

I say: What you’re seeing now has always been there. And Texas, then and now, is always just America, writ large. We are not different from America. It’s just really is true that everything is bigger in Texas.

We hide it for a time. We deny it often. But the roots of White Supremacist Texas…the unnamed and often ignored connections between the glorious myths of Texas’ founding and slavery…are there for us to see, if we’ll take an honest look.

A few years back, I stumbled on a factoid that slapped me between the eyes about this: At the end of the Civil War, Jefferson Davis brilliant “next move” was to…wait for it…flee to Texas.

There were rumors that rebels would regather there, to continue to foment Civil War against the United States…to refuse to cede the loss.

To me, this has become a metaphor for the forgotten history that we White Texas, and White Americans, so often ignore.
And it inspired this song. Since the song mentioned Juneteenth, I’m offering this version today.

What we White folks still often refuse to see, in the period after the Civil War, was a continuing 100 year sometimes simmering, and sometimes “hot,” insurrection against the law of the United States.

Juneteenth happened, yes.
But why…why did it take so long for the Emancipation Proclamation to be accepted in Texas?
We apparently never bother to ask. It took so long because it took 2,000 Federal troops.
And also…because Jeff Davis’ friends were here in Texas.
(They would later offer him the presidency of Texas A&M. Look it up…).

Later, Tulsa happened.
Around that time, dozens more Tulsas we’ve never named happened.
In Dallas, “Allen Brooks” happened.

I will urge you to Google “Allen Brooks” Dallas, to learn his horrific story, mentioned in this song. We Dallasites finally acknowledged this horror, only last year with a plaque at the lynching site. THAT took 100 years.

Thousands of White Dallasites attended this event, in 1910.
And yes, they really did make postcards.

20 years after THIS (the 1930s) …a full 75 years after the end of the Civil War…Dallas would erect the statue to Robert E Lee in “Lee Park.”

Finally, in our day, Michael Phillips helpfully reminds us that North Texas produced more Jan 6th insurrectionists than any other part of our country; and the horrific slaughter in El Paso happened because a North Texan drove all the way across the state to kill brown people.

Clearly, none of this is fun to remember.
I certainly understand why we all might want to forget.

And yes…things ARE better in myriad ways. No one is denying this, certainly not me. Bluntly, there is also an unfair reductionism that can come from failing to acknowledge this too.

But if you’re a White Texan, puzzled as to why Texas’ brand of White Supremacist keeps coming back, like Kudzu…
If what’s happening in our state shocks you and feels “new”…
If you’re thinking it’s never been quite this bad before and wondering if you should stay and fight…
Perhaps you’ve never taken a full, cold, look at just how far back this all goes.

I love Texas.
I am here for the fight.
I am not leaving.

But I’ll also take that cold, hard took.
And I hope you will too.

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