A Man Absolutely Sure of Himself: Texan George Washington Littlefield

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University of Oklahoma Press, Nov 7, 2019 - History - 472 pages

This is the first full biography of George Washington Littlefield, the Texas and New Mexico rancher, Austin banker and businessman, University of Texas regent, and philanthropist. In just two decades, Littlefield’s business acumen vaulted him from debt to inclusion in 1892 on the first list of American millionaires. A Man Absolutely Sure of Himself is a grand retelling of the life of a highly successful entrepreneur and Austin civic leader whose work affected spheres from ranching and banking to civic development and academia.

Littlefield’s cattle operations during the open range and early ranching periods spanned a domain in New Mexico and Texas larger than the states of Delaware and Connecticut combined. In a unique contribution to ranching art, Littlefield commissioned murals and bronze doors depicting scenes from his ranches to decorate Austin’s American National Bank, which he led for its first twenty-eight years.

Gracy provides new information about Littlefield’s term as University of Texas regent and the necessity of choosing between friendship and duty during the university’s confrontation with Gov. James E. Ferguson. Proud of his Civil War service in Terry’s Texas Rangers, Littlefield funded one of the nation’s first centers for Southern history. He also underwrote the school’s purchase of its first rare book library and its training programs preparing troops for World War I’s new combat roles.

Littlefield played a central role in advancing Austin from a cattleman’s town into the business center it wanted to become. His Littlefield Building, the tallest office building between New Orleans and San Francisco when it was built, served for a generation as the prime location of the town’s business community.

Author David B. Gracy II, a relative of Littlefield, grounds his vivid prose in a lifetime of research into archival and family sources. His comprehensive biography illuminates an exceptional figure, whose life singularly illustrates the evolution of Texas from Southern to Western to American.
 

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Contents

List of Illustrations Foreword by J Phelps White
iii
Acknowledgments
vi
A Texan American
xii
Troubles Enough
1
Like a
2
The Sising of Miniť Balls
3
The Proudest
4
To Begin Business
5
People Make Their Own Lives
12
The Best and Safest Business
13
Ill Do the Rest
14
Synonymous with Austins Aspirations and Ambitions
15
The True History
16
Watchman on the Tower
17
In a Mans Sized World
18
To Accomplish What Ought to Be Accomplished
19

Connecting the FourDollar Cow with the FortyDollar Market
6
The Fastest MoneyMaking Business
7
A Little Bit Wider
8
Phelps Has Done Well
9
The Way to Make Money
10
My Own
11
As Ever Yours
20
APPENDIX A Littlefield Nance Satterwhite and White
193
Notes
193
Bibliography
1926
Index
1928
Copyright

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About the author (2019)

David B. Gracy II is the Governor Bill Daniel Professor Emeritus in Archival Enterprise, School of Information, University of Texas at Austin and author of Littlefield Lands: Colonization on the Texas Plains, 1912–1920; Sunrise! Governor Bill Daniel and the Second Liberation of Guam; and Moses Austin: His Life.

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