William Hanson and the Texas-Mexico Border
Violence, Corruption, and the Making of the Gatekeeper State
256 Pages, 6.00 x 9.00 in
Sales Date: May 14, 2024
An examination of the career of Texas Ranger and immigration official William Hanson illustrating the intersections of corruption, state-building, and racial violence in early twentieth century Texas.
At the Texas-Mexico border in the 1910s and 1920s, William Hanson was a witness to, and an active agent of, history. As a Texas Ranger captain and then a top official in the Immigration Service, he helped shape how US policymakers understood the border, its residents, and the movement of goods and people across the international boundary. An associate of powerful politicians and oil company executives, he also used his positions to further his and his patrons' personal interests, financial and political, often through threats and extralegal methods.
Hanson’s career illustrates the ways in which legal exclusion, white-supremacist violence, and official corruption overlapped and were essential building blocks of a growing state presence along the border in the early twentieth century. In this book, John Weber reveals Hanson’s cynical efforts to use state and federal power to proclaim the border region inherently dangerous and traces the origins of current nativist politics that seek to demonize the border population. In doing so, he provides insight into how a minor political appointee, motivated by his own ambitions, had lasting impacts on how the border was experienced by immigrants and seen by the nation.
William Hanson and the Texas-Mexico Border reveals the illusory nature of state-building in the early twentieth century, convincingly using a ‘top-down’ approach to show that full state control of borders has long been a deliberate myth propagated by US officials. John Weber’s argument is highly original and thought-provoking, and this exceptionally well-done book makes important and interesting contributions to borderlands history. ~Timothy Paul Bowman, West Texas A&M University, author of Blood Oranges: Colonialism and Agriculture in the South Texas Borderlands
- List of Illustrations
- Part I. Fragile Dreams of Empire
- Chapter 1. Revenge, Impunity, and White Supremacy
- Chapter 2. In the Employ of Fall
- Part II. Gatekeeping
- Chapter 3. Deportation, Inconvenient Exiles, and Postrevolutionary State-Building
- Chapter 4. Immigration Control and the Numbers Game
The publication of William Hanson and the Texas-Mexico Border was made possible by the support of the Jess and Betty Jo Hay Endowment.