1929 October 13

Martial Law, Suppression of the Press in Oil-Boom Texas City


Martial law and suppression of the press occurred in Borger, Texas, an oil boom city engulfed in chaos and lawlessness it was reported on this day. Texas Rangers, sent into the city to restore order, for example, seized a reporter for the local Daily Herald because of “adverse publicity” in his stories on their activities. The governor, meanwhile, declared martial law in the city one week before today. The Texas Rangers, who eventually numbered two-thirds of the entire force, closed gambling houses and dance halls. Alleged “undesirables” reportedly “fled” the city, under circumstances that were not reported in the New York Times. Some visitors to the city reportedly joked that they had to step over corpses when walking down the main street.

Learn more about civil liberties in the 1920s: Paul L. Murphy, The Meaning of Freedom of Speech: First Amendment Freedoms from Wilson to FDR (1972)

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