Saturday, November 24, 2018

This Week in Texas Methodist History   November 25

TCA Reports on Move of Publishing House to Dallas, Nov. 29, 1900

On November 29, 1900 the Texas Christian Advocate ran the following:

The step (establishing a branch Publishing House in Dallas), was not taken un-advisedly, it was no reckless adventure. . . Situated in one of the most prosperous positions of our great nation, among people of virile and healthy minds, and environed by as genuine literary talent and culture as exist on our continent, this new enterprise b ids fair to assume large proportions and influence.  

John H. McLean, president of the Board of Publication wrote, The candlestick is removed from the isle of the sea and set in the midst of the people. 

The 1887 relocation of the Publishing House from Galveston to Dallas was an acknowledgement of new demographic and technological realities brought about by the post Civil War railroad construction.   The railroads shifted the main commercial and migration patterns away from Galveston to the interior of the state.  Dallas emerged as the transportation hub that linked the most densely populated part of Texas to Chicago, St. Louis, Kansas City, Memphis, and other important U. S. cities.  Previously the New Orleans-Galveston sea lane provided the most important commercial link of Texas to the rest of the United States.  

Texas Methodists were not the only journalists to recognize the need to change.  In 1885 A. H. Belo sent G. B. Dealey from the Galveston News to Dallas to start the Dallas Morning News.   

Although Texas Methodist Publishing began in Brenham, the Advocate soon moved to Galveston where both English and German Methodist newspapers were produced.    Galveston made an ideal location because the Publishing House also served as a book store, warehouse, and job printing office.  A port location made sense so that Methodist literature, newsprint, and other printing supplies could be imported.  

Galveston also made sense from a journalistic perspective.  Galveston was the most important cotton market in Texas, and because of its prominence had the most advanced communication facilities of any Texas city.   Markets of all types depend upon up to date information.  Knowing the price of cotton in the Memphis or New Orleans before ones competitors could make the difference between fortune or bankruptcy so Galveston was well connected.  The cotton factors would hire boys to meet incoming ships bearing newspapers from other cities in their quest to get the news first. 

Telegraphy made such actions obsolete, and the comparative advantage of a port location disappeared.  Since the railroads were coming to Texas for cotton, it made sense to build the rails to the most productive cotton lands, the Blackland Prairie.  Dallas took advantage of the new rail connections better than any other Blackland Prairie city.  

Dallas parlayed its advantages as a transportation hub for cotton into regional dominance in other fields.  It became the banking, insurance, and warehousing/distribution center for the entire South Central portion of the United State. 

 When it secured the site of SMU, Dallas ensured its position as the center of Texas Methodism.   The preeminence of Dallas with both a university (after 1915) and publishing house was analogous to that of Nashville for the Southeastern United States for the MECS and Cincinnati, Ohio, for the German conferences of the MEC. 


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