From The American West
Volume 25, January, 2011
Continued from last month.
Though some of the tactics utilized by such noted Rangers as Captain Leander Harvey McNelly and his “Special Forces” were at times ruthless, they were very successful in accomplishing their mission and received great honor for the unit as a whole.
The Rangers saw serious action during the Mexican Revolution that began in 1910, one of the several Mexican revolutions of that period. The breakdown of law and order on the Mexican side of the Rio Grande, coupled with the lack of American military forces on the northern side, once again called for action by the Texas Rangers.
It was soon discovered that the situation was far more serious than first thought, and hundreds of new Rangers were recruited. During this period, several atrocities were blamed on the Rangers. Some were proved in court. This caused a dark shadow to fall upon the reputation of one of the most renowned units of lawmen in history. In 1919, the Texas Legislature disbanded the special units of the Rangers and instituted a complaints system. Over the next decade, the Texas Rangers worked diligently to remove the shadow from their name.
The Great Depression hit Texas as it did other parts of the nation and forced the state government to cut both personnel and funding for the organization. The number of Rangers was reduced to 45 and the only means of transportation allowed were free railroad passes and their personal horses.
In 1934, the Ranges supported the unsuccessful re-election campaign of Governor Ross Sterling. When he was beaten by Miriam Amanda "Ma" Ferguson, she repaid them by totally disbanding them. The resulting disorganization of law enforcement in the state caused the Texas Legislature to reorganize the Rangers and merge them with the Texas Highway Patrol the very next year. They called this new agency the Texas Department of Public Safety.
With minor rearrangements over the years, the 1935 reforms have ruled the Texas Rangers' organization until the present day. Hiring new members, which had been largely a political decision, has traditionally been achieved through a series of examinations and merit evaluations. Promotions rely heavily on seniority and performance in the line of duty. Today, the historical importance and symbolism of the Texas Rangers is such that they are protected by statute from being disbanded.
Though it has usually been an honor and great achievement to have one’s name in the ledgers of the Texas Rangers, there is an honor far greater, and a ledger more wonderful. Jesus said in Revelation 3:5, “He who overcomes will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out his name from the book of life, but will acknowledge his name before my Father and his angels.”