Messin’ With Texas
I always enjoy reading articles about my native state of Texas, but I was deeply disappointed by Gregory Curtis’ contention in “Lone Star Nation” (October 2011) that “the geography of the state is relatively uniform.” Mr. Curtis obviously did not take (or did not pay attention in) the required seventh-grade Texas geography course, the companion to the Texas history course. Texas actually consists of 10 climatic regions, 14 soil regions and 11 ecological regions. Looking down at El Paso from one of the surrounding mountains is nothing like driving through the streets of Lufkin or Nacogdoches. The flat plains around Amarillo bear no resemblance that I can see to the palm trees lining the highways outside of McAllen. And please explain to me how the bayous near Houston could ever be confused with the Davis Mountains.
Please tell Mr. Curtis to turn in his Citizen of Texas card. Apparently he failed fourth- and seventh-grade Texas history classes. Juan Seguin did not die in the Alamo. He was sent to raise troops and was not there when the Mexicans overran the fortifications. Seguin later returned to San Antonio and gave the Texan dead a proper burial. He went on to become one of the first members of Congress in the Texas Republic.
Edward O. Sweat Jr.
Orange Park, Fla.
Gregory Curtis seems intent on denigrating Texas and Texans for feeling a special pride in our history. The fourth- and seventh-grade history courses do not just teach children about Texas heroes. They teach about cultures, citizenship, government and economics. Students learn about the early American Indian groups who lived in Texas, and all the different immigrant groups that moved here later, including Germans, Czechs and Scots-Irish, just to name a few. Yes, some of our heroes mean little to people outside the state, but I’m sure students in Alabama spend time learning about Alabamans that I have never heard of either.
After reading Gregory Curtis’ article, I had to make sure that I had not picked up your April Fools’ issue by mistake. It is hard to fully express my indignation at the preposterous, self-serving and self-centered writings of Mr. Curtis with regard to his beloved state of Texas. There is nothing so special about Texas that isn’t similarly special about most, if not all of the other states of this country. There is certainly nothing that would give rise to the suggestion that Texas is uniquely entitled to consider itself more righteously independent than any other state, or that it is the rightful owner of absurdly assumed prerogatives. In future, I hope American History thinks twice before it allows such jingoistic drivel to pollute its pages.
Kalman A. Barson
Gregory Curtis replies: Yes, Mr. Sweat is right about Juan Seguin, as were several other readers who contacted me. I do regret my mistake. As for the geography, as the article made clear, there are extremes in Texas but the broad swath through the middle of the state is “relatively uniform,” as the persistent drought and high temperatures through much of Texas this year clearly testify.
What Would Jefferson Do?
The cover of your October issue asked, “Did Thomas Jefferson believe in God?” In order to put this subject in proper perspective, it is very important to understand the definition of what it takes to be a Christian. Christianity is not a social club, or “being religious,” or quoting a few Bible verses or attending a church of one kind or another. To be a Christian, a person must come to grips with the fact that he or she is a sinner in the eye of God and needs God’s grace in their life through Jesus Christ. By his own words, Jefferson did not believe this in any way, shape or form. There is a ton of material that confirms this. Jefferson might have believed in a god, but certainly not the Christian God. Jefferson made many contributions to America, but his understanding of biblical Christianity found him wanting.