Border Boss: Manuel B. Bravo and Zapata County
On January 1, 1937, Manuel B. Bravo was sworn in as county judge of Zapata County, a post he would hold for twenty years. In Border Boss: Manuel B. Bravo and Zapata County, J. Gilberto Quezada delineates Bravo’s political career in the Democratic Party and examines his role in some of the important issues of his day, especially Falcon Dam. During Bravo’s years in office, he worked and corresponded with many Texas and national politicians, including James Allred, Lloyd Bentsen, Kika de la Garza, Ralph Yarborough, and, most prominently, Lyndon Johnson. The association between Bravo and Johnson began with the special Senate election of 1941 and is reflected in the more than fifty letters between the two in Bravo's personal papers. In Johnson's 1948 Senate runoff against Coke Stevenson, voting irregularities were alleged in Zapata County when the election returns from Precinct No. 3 were reported missing. Quezada analyzes the Bravo papers for any evidence that Bravo and Johnson had arranged the disappearance and offers possible alternative explanations. From the 1930s to the 1950s Zapata County was one of six South Texas counties where the Tejano majority dominated local politics and held most public offices. Bravo became known as one of the "Mexican bosses" of South Texas, but Quezada draws a more nuanced picture of bossism than has been presented previously, analyzing the role of influential leading families but looking as well at the degree of economic integration into the state and nation as factors in how bossism developed.
Those interested in Mexican-American studies and politics and bossism in South Texas will appreciate the window onto South Texas politics and Tejano culture this biography gives.
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49th District Allred Anglos attorney ballot Bentsen Bill Bobbin Bobbitt border bossism Bravo to LBJ campaign candidates citizens Committee Congressman county commissioners county judge county officials county's court courthouse Cuellar Dallek Democratic Party Democratic primary Edinburg Falcon Dam federal Garza Governor Guillermo Gonzalez Gutierrez hereafter cited Hewitt Hidalgo County Humberto Gonzalez Ibid IBWC IBWC's incumbent Independent Club interview irrigation Jim Hogg Jim Wells County Josefa Judge Bravo judge's July July 27 June Kilgore to Bravo Kingdom of Zapata lands Laredo Lawson LBJ to Bravo LBJL leaders Leopoldo Martinez letter Longoria LULAC Lyndon Johnson Manuel Medina MBBP meeting Mexican O'Daniel Parr Partido Nuevo Partido Viejo percent political machine precinct President Ramirez ranchers ranching relocation Republican San Antonio San Ygnacio Sanchez Senator Johnson Sept Starr County Stevenson Tejano tion voters votes Webb County Yarborough Zapata County ZCCCM