The History of The Republican Party of Texas

Founded on July 4, 1867 by 150 Black men and 20 Anglos in Houston, Texas, the Republican Party of Texas has a rich history.

These early Republicans were intentionally reaching out to the newly-freed and newly-enfranchised freedmen, the former slaves. They were reaching out to ensure that they were also being registered to vote and so the Republicans have always literally, been stalwarts for Black people. That’s a history that’s not being told!


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Jonathan Schober:
A lot of history in the Republican Party of Texas, but I’m not sure that I even realized that we had a historian with the Republican Party. So why don’t you start with how did you become the historian for the Republican Party of Texas?

Dr. Tim Westley:
Yes, interestingly enough, I didn’t know we had a historian for a while. I became the historian, I would say, intentionally, but somewhat by default, as well. As Chairman West and I ran across each other on a couple of occasions, one was when I was running for us Congress for Congressional District 15. We met some years back and after March 2020, when I fell short in my congressional race then, I was asked to come and be one of the keynote speakers for a defense of the Cenotaph at the Alamo. At that time, the organization that was putting that rally together, they called me up and told me that Chairman West will be there as well as one of the keynote speakers. At that point, I spoke with Chairman West because I was writing a book, my fifth book at the time and I said, “Well, he’d be a great person to do the foreword for that book.”

Ironically, it was a book on history, Republican Party history. So we spoke during that time and Chairman West, again, he was running. He wasn’t the chairman at the time. He agreed that he would do the foreword. Well, before the election was done, his election, his race, was done, he reached out to me and asked if I would consider being a part of his staff upon his victory. I told him, “Absolutely. I’d love too.” So there was one other position we were looking at. That did not pan out and a lot of that was tied to the convention not happening in Houston and, ultimately, long story short, he reached out and said, “Well, Tim, I do have an opportunity for a historian. Would you mind filling that post?” I said, “Absolutely. I’d love too.” As they say, the rest is history. Yes.

Jonathan Schober:
We know that the Republican Party started as an abolitionists movement.

Dr. Tim Westley:
Yes.

Jonathan Schober:
We have always been for equal rights for all mankind. We started off as an anti-slavery party. Unfortunately, in Texas and as a native Texan and a descendant of the Alamo, unfortunately, we were on the wrong side of history for a while. But why don’t you bring us up to speed about the Republican Party of Texas? What’s that history like?

Dr. Tim Westley:
The history is rich. I’m the second historian for the Republican Party of Texas, the first one that’s really actively getting out. The rich history that we have is, as you mentioned, the Republican Party of Texas was started July 4th, 1867 by 150 Black men and 20 Anglos in Houston, Texas. When I tell people that, many are just stunned. I’ve even had people to go and research it, only to come back and said, “You know, I researched it for myself and wow, that’s true.” So, as you mentioned, the Republican Party of Texas trying to get back into the union, regain admittance into the union, they started off as an agrarian-based biracial component.

They were intentionally reaching out to the newly-freed and newly-enfranchised freedmen, the former slaves. Keep in mind as we’re coming upon Juneteenth, June 19th of this year, that’s significant and that June 19th of 1865, we found that the slaves that were in Texas found out they were free. So we’re talking from 1865 to 1867, 2 short years later, it was Republicans through the Freedmen’s Bureau and other organizations that were reaching out to African-Americans. They were reaching out to ensure that they were also being registered to vote and so the Republicans have always literally, been stalwarts for Black people. That’s a history that’s not being told-

Jonathan Schober:
And making sure they’re registered to vote.

Dr. Tim Westley:
Absolutely.

Jonathan Schober:
In this culture and in this time, I don’t think we can emphasize enough, because there’s a lot of people that are wanting to rewrite history. It was the Republican Party that has always stood-

Dr. Tim Westley:
Yes.

Jonathan Schober:
… for Black and White and Brown and every legal person to be registered to vote.

Dr. Tim Westley:
Absolutely, and on that note, what we’re seeing when we look historically, and this is where we have a charge, especially me as historian, a charge to right the wrongs and make sure that we tell the history as it was and as it should be. One of the things we’re finding out, this day and time, you hear a lot of complaints where Republicans are trying to hinder minorities’ right to vote. They’re trying to block minorities’ right to vote. They’re making it harder for them to vote. But historically, it was Democrats that had the grandfather clauses, which said that former slaves could not vote.

It was Democrats that had the Jim Crow laws, suppressive election procedures, Black hold and enforced segregation, Whites-only primaries, physical intimidation and violence and rewriting state constitution. So this is the history that, as I travel around Texas and I speak to different conservatives, when I speak to these patriots, I tell them, “We must know this history. We must be bold enough to tell this history and share it,” because what we’ve seen, we’ve seen our classrooms from elementary on up been inundated with bad history, with a rewriting, a retelling of history that’s not correct. So historians are important to get it right.

Jonathan Schober:
It’s nothing wrong To talk about the warts of history-

Dr. Tim Westley:
Yes.

Jonathan Schober:
… but it is wrong to lie about history. I think one of the things that I think is the big lie is this theory of the great switch. The Republican Party started off as an abolitionist movement, but then somewhere along the way, we switched parties. Speak to that just a little bit, because I think that’s something that just needs to have a nail put in its coffin.

Dr. Tim Westley:
Absolutely. Well, let’s get ready to put that nail in there right now. The switch never happened. It’s definitely a myth. I write about it in my book, that book is titled The Republican Party & the Journey Blackwards! Regaining the Black Vote. So I write about it. It’s the one Chairman West did the foreword on and what I write about in the book and it’s one chapter on the big switch. It’s a myth. The truth is that Dixiecrats comprised of over 200 senators, congressmen, governors and elected officials. But as I write about in this text, only one Dixiecrat Senator and one Congressman switched to the Republican Party. That was U.S. Senator Strom Thurman of South Carolina, who defected to the Republican Party.

Also, there was one Congressman, Albert Watson of South Carolina, that switched. That left more than 200 Dixiecrats remaining with the Democrat Party. The reason that Democrats don’t want to hear that because the truth is, generationally, this is the same Democrat party that started Jim Crow, that had it before segregation, that had the separate primaries. This is the same Democrat party; it’s not Republican. So again, this is a myth and we’ve just put a nail in that thing. I always challenge people, “Challenge me with some facts that can refute the ones I just shared.”

Jonathan Schober:
Because I think people, it shuts them down, “Oh, you’re a racist. Oh, you’re this, you’re that,” and it just shuts people down. We need to know the truth and the truth is we have something that we can solidly stand on as a party. The Jim Crow laws that they accused of us, they were their laws and they continue to be-

Dr. Tim Westley:
Absolutely.

Jonathan Schober:
… their laws.

Dr. Tim Westley:
Absolutely.

Jonathan Schober:
Well, bring us up to speed. So for 1867, the Republican Party started. Give us some of the highlights moving forward.

Dr. Tim Westley:
Yes. Some of the highlights that will affect us in 2021, one of the things I like to do, I like to make sure that I’m sharing history that can be applicable to us right now, that we can use right now. So some of the greatest highlights in 1867 when the Republican Party had its birth, July 4th, what took place was that at the time you had two groups of Republicans. You had conservatives on one side and you had radicals on the other side and most hear conservatives and they think about the far right in this day and time. However, it wasn’t always the case. When you had conservatives back in 1867, they were closer to the left by far than they were to the right and you had the radical step were far to the right. So during this time they could not agree on platform issues. They couldn’t agree on platform issues.

Jonathan Schober:
This would almost be like establishment versus conservatives, if we were to use today’s language-

Dr. Tim Westley:
Yes. Yes.

Jonathan Schober:
… the conservatives of them were the establishment you might want to call them moderates, dare we say, RHINOs-

Dr. Tim Westley:
Yes. Yes.

Jonathan Schober:
The other side were the true believers.

Dr. Tim Westley:
The grassroots, yes. The radicals were more of a grassroots and so what you saw was that, and this is ironic most people don’t know it, that they could not agree on platform issues. This was early on and because they-

Jonathan Schober:
Shocking. It’s amazing.

Dr. Tim Westley:
Yeah. So it looked like 2020, 2021. Right. Because they couldn’t agree, they ended up having two separate conventions. Can you imagine that for a moment? Not only did they have separate conventions, but they also set up separate slates of people that they wanted for state office. So, ultimately, the radicals would win out. The radicals would win out and here’s the reason why. During 1867, keep in mind, as I mentioned, the Republicans were intentionally, not by happenstance, but intentionally, going after the Black vote. They were intentionally registering Black voters, reminding them that it was us that, when it came down to slavery and trying to make sure that slavery ended, it was Republicans that were pushing forward and pushing away. So with that being the case, the radicals were the ones that were right up front and they were in the thick of things as grassroots back then.

Because of that, they had the power of the Black vote and that power of the Black vote, even in 1867, proved crucial because they were able to get exactly what they wanted at the state level. Here’s a twist, though. Because the radicals and the conservatives could not see eye- to-eye on platform issues, the conservatives were desperate and because of their desperation, the leader of the conservatives at the time decided, “You know what we’re going to do? We’re going to go after the Democrat vote. We’re going to see if we can get some Democrat support when it comes down to endorsements and things like that,” and that upset the conservative base. There was a split there, and, ultimately, here’s the problem that was major for the Republicans. About five to six years in, the Republicans started to lose sight of the agrarian based, the biracial component of which they were made of in Texas.

Because they lost sight of that, they decided to go another route and not go after that minority vote anymore. Democrats, meanwhile, were saying, “We see the power and the value of the minority vote. We’re going to go after it, even with free barbecues,” in the 1800s. Yes, and they decided to go after the vote. Because of the abandonment of that vote, by the time we get from 1867 and fast forward about six or seven years and get to 1872, 1873, we had moved from having control of the Texas House, the Texas Senate and the governor’s office for about six or seven years. About six or seven years later, we lost control of all three and it will remain that way for over 120 years. Think about that.

Jonathan Schober:
So what are some lessons that we can learn as we take these things? So what I hear from you is there was this compromise on platform and there was a reaching across the aisle, if you will, to people that were really, ideologically, opposition to them and we ended up losing. So what are some of the takeaways that we can have? I would say that we are at risk of losing Texas, not just from a Republican Democrat, but I think even if you look at the legislative session that we just went through, it wasn’t a great success in terms of what the grassroots wanted and I think a lot of these lessons will apply. So what can we learn from this and how can we take the lessons of history and move forward and win?

Dr. Tim Westley:
We can learn quite a few things. One, I will tell you, we can learn the value of the minority vote. We know that, without a doubt, if we look at it at the national level and we look back at 2016, something unique happened in 2016. Of course, we ended up with a President Trump, but if we go back a little bit further than 2016, and we go to the 2012 race, there was something that unique. President, at the time, Obama was able to secure places like Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Those were pivotal states for him. But when we fast forward to 2016, Hillary Clinton could not secure those states and the reason she couldn’t secure them and Donald Trump did the difference maker was the Black vote. The Black vote was difference makers so much so that President Trump’s team recognized it and they went after that vote.

So that’s at the national level. As I mentioned, and I’ll mention again, at the state level, we saw the same problem that when we lost sight of the minority vote, we lost control of the House, the Senate and the governor’s office for 120 plus years. My son asked me a question, my youngest of two, asked me a question about two weeks ago. He said, “Dad, the cost of the Heartbeat Bill and things of that nature that we’re trying to move forward in Texas, liberals are saying that they’re going to come and they’re going to take Texas. Do you think that can happen?” I said, “Absolutely. I think it can happen. It happened before and it can happen again.”

We have to make sure as true conservatives, as true patriots that we rise up. If we look at legislative sessions like this, and we see that those people that we’ve sent to Austin to do a job, they’re working for special interest groups and lobbyists and everyone else, but they’re not working for the people, because think about it for just a moment. We didn’t have a ton of legislative priorities that we said, “This is coming from the RPT. This is coming from the people. We, the people, didn’t have a ton, and we get thousands of bills, and you could not move these forward?” It was hideous. So with that being said, we have to learn that we, the people, truly have the power. That’s what history shows us.

Jonathan Schober:
But let’s talk about some practical things. When we talk about reaching across the divide and let’s face it, this is a racial thing. Here we are, a White man and a Black man having a conversation. How do we continue this and not be pandering, but, but stay with our ideals, stay with our foundations? But what are some very practical things that we can do to make sure that our message is being heard in communities that may have some resistance or some bias to even hear our message? What do we do?

Dr. Tim Westley:
It may sound simple, but we tell the truth. Ultimately, we tell the truth. Too often, we begin to look at our differences and we can look at differences on the surface when it comes down to race, ethnicity, and things of that nature. It’s an obvious. So if we can get past those differences and also tell the truth. One of the things that I used to tell people when I was in the church as a senior pastor, I would tell them, “Just tell the truth.” “Oh, I don’t go to church because there are hypocrites in the church.” Yeah, there are some hypocrites in the church, but they’re at Walmart and they own your job too, but you hadn’t quit it and you hadn’t stopped shopping at Walmart, but you still go. So we tell the truth. Yes, when it comes down to political parties, this is what I like to tell them.

If we can just take personalities off the table, can we agree to say that there are flawed people in the Democrat party, flawed people in the Republican Party, flawed people and the libertarian party. Can we agree to that?””Yes. I can agree, there are flawed people … ” Okay. So let’s take personalities off. Now, let’s look at platform issues and just talk about what we have in common. At that point, these are things that we can simplify because most people, when we’re trying to reach across the aisle, especially when it comes to minorities, ultimately, at the foundation of who minorities are, whether we’re talking about the Black population, the Latino population, there is a strong belief in God, a Supreme Being, someone higher. That’s something we have in common, as Republicans, as conservatives. We can talk about faith and how important it is. Family, we can talk about family and we can talk about how important that is and how the Republican Party views the traditional family and how it supports it.

We can talk about finances, i.e., jobs, employment, and things of that nature that’s going to affect the future. We can talk about how the Republican Party, through a stewardship, is trying to do the right thing that’s going to provide us longevity. We can talk about future. We want to know that our children and our children’s children will have a future and we can, then, bring in the policies and say, “Republican policies that we’re going to discuss. This is how it’s going to affect our right now and the longterm for your children and your children’s children and so on and so forth, as compared to the other side.” So those are some simple things we can discuss, things that we can have in common and that we do have in common. If we can meet there, then we can begin to move forward. But we must destroy the idea that people are going to go back to personalities by pointing out and admitting we have problems on both sides.

Jonathan Schober:
No, I think that’s so true. Again, we have to admit and say, “Yeah, here’s our warts,” but I think the other thing that I hear from you is don’t back down because there are these certain catchphrases that are out there that are not designed tto have a discourse or a conversation. They are designed to shut people down to stop talking. That’s one of the things that I hear from you is don’t be afraid to, to share the history. Don’t be afraid to talk about faith, family, freedom, finance and future. So I want to change gears just a little bit, because when we started in 1867, there were these, was it, 200 African-Americans and [crosstalk 00:19:30] What was the number?

Dr. Tim Westley:
150 Black men and 20 Anglos that started the Republican Party of Texas.

Jonathan Schober:
So we started with 150 Black men and 20 Anglo-

Dr. Tim Westley:
Yes.

Jonathan Schober:
So it was biracial. What are you doing today? How are you moving sort of the beginnings of today?

Dr. Tim Westley:
What we’re doing, we’re we’re telling the history. One thing I will point out to you, it was history that brought me over to the Republican Party. That was a part of it. Of course, prayer, as a man of faith in God played a huge part, but it took a Sunday School teacher that was a part of my ministry to have a conversation, not even bringing up political parties, but just bringing up ideals, just bringing up your substance of ideas. So as we discussed these things as it connected to the faith, we began to talk about history as well, without ever mentioning Republican or Democrat. We just talked about how these things affect life and over time. I brought up the fact, “Well, this is what I see in this party. I see that in that party. He eventually showed me history. He showed me a video from David Barton, titled American History in Black and White.

So it was after I watched this video, my wife and I, that after that night, we decided without a doubt, we are Republicans. We are definitely not Democrats, we are Republicans and the history made a difference. So fast forward to now. The idea that most people have no clue 150 Black men at 20 Anglos started the Republican Party of Texas, July 4th, 1867. It was an idea that came from Chairman West. He sent me a text and said, “Hey, what you consider starting an initiative called The 150 Black Men of Texas?” I said, “Absolutely.” Did some prayer on it, asked to which direction we’re going to go with it. We’ve now launched this initiative. It’s now an auxiliary of the Republican Party of Texas, an official auxiliary. We now have a website of which to go.

We are now going on the offensive, no longer are we backpedaling on the defensive because people like to shut you up by calling you a racist and saying, “Republicans are racist,” et cetera. We’re going on the offensive and saying, “No, listen to the truth. We’re going to share the truth with you. Our website, www.150bmot.com. That’s 150bmot, which stands for Black Men of Texas,.com. Again, 150obmot.com. That website, we’re providing history. We’re providing information on historic Black men early on in the party and we’ll be providing them throughout the party that made significant impacts throughout Texas and the nation. We’re going to be providing information as far as services and resources and whether the person’s Republican, Democrat, libertarian, it doesn’t matter. We’re providing them a place to come to find out how do I contact my State Congressmen or how do I contact my State Senator?

How do I get involved? How do I register to vote. We’re not only providing that at this website, but if they have complaints or issues or concerns, we’re not just going to be lip service; we’re going to be listening, because we have a place for them to come and park their thoughts so that we’ll be able to take those thoughts to the SREC and take those thoughts and, hopefully, spread them back throughout the state of Texas and listen to the concerns. This crest I’m holding, or as I like to call it, this shield, this shield is a symbol of what I’m speaking about. This is now our new shield, our crest, our lapel pin or whatever you like to call it, that represents that 150 Black men of Texas and 20 Anglos. This is not just a conversation piece, but it’s history and it’s the truth and I wear it proudly now.

Jonathan Schober:
Well, can I be one of those 20 Anglos?

Dr. Tim Westley:
You can.

Jonathan Schober:
Can I be included in this?

Dr. Tim Westley:
I’m glad you asked that question because people think, “Wow, if we’re just going to have a group that’s for Black people, then isn’t that going backwards?” It’s not just for Black people. Now 150 First Black Men of Texas, and FIRST is an acronym for fierce, intelligent Republican, strong trailblazers. Black men, of course, we’re targeting. We’re trying to reach out to them and let them know that you don’t have to come to the Republican Party for the first time; we’re asking you to home because this is where Black people in Texas came from. So with that being said, that’s for membership. We have an opportunity for associate members. If you’re not a Black man, and you want to be a part of this, guess what? You’ll be able to do everything, but cast a vote as an associate member.

You’ll be able to come to meetings, participate, wear the beautiful shield. You’ll be able to talk about it, have discussions. You’ll be able to do everything that we can do, except for we’re going to reserve the voting for the Black men to make sure that we’re telling them, “We’re hearing your concerns from a Black perspective and we have Black men voting on it,” and guess what? Even if you’re not in the great state of Texas and you say, “I want to support that initiative,” we have affiliate memberships for people that outside of the rims of Texas, that they too can become a part of this. So thank you for that question.

Jonathan Schober:
I love it. I think this is so exciting because I think ideals matter and I think that history matters. I am fully convinced that if, when we lay out the foundation, when we lay out the history, when we lay out the ideas, I really believe that the best ideas win and the Republicans have the best ideas. So there’s no risk to having that conversation. There’s no risk to opening that up to people that, in recent history, may not have that perspective, but they have the historical history and the historical perspective. So I’m super-

Dr. Tim Westley:
Thank you.

Jonathan Schober:
… excited about what you’re doing. Well, here’s what I want to do. We’re going to take a quick break and when we come back, I want to ask you, what is it that keeps you up at night?

Pastor Vic Schober:
Promises, God’s promises. He makes them and he keeps them. Hi, I’m Pastor Schober. I’m wanting you to look with me at the 46th Psalm. It’s a great promise. It says, “God is our refuge and strength. A very present help in trouble.” I guess I should ask, “Are you in trouble? Are you expecting to be in trouble?” Ah, somewhere along the way, we’re going to be in trouble and we need God. He’s one to whom we can run and hide. He’s a fortress. He’s a refuge. He’s our God. He’s our place of safety. We have security and assurance and confidence when we’re in God. So I encourage you to do that. Wherever you are, whatever you’re getting into run to God. I’m Pastor Schober. Remember, God keeps his promises

Jonathan Schober:
We are back with The Elephant Heard. I am joined by Republican Party of Texas historian, Dr. Tim Westley. We’ve been talking about the history, the rich history of the Republican Party of Texas. But before we leave, I’ve got one last question for you and the question is, Dr. Westley, what keeps you up at night?

Dr. Tim Westley:
Ultimately, concern for our future. I found myself getting involved in politics back in 2015, and I was concerned about the future at that time. I was concerned about our veterans. I was concerned about the future when it comes down to our society and our great republic with our freedoms. I was concerned about the abuse and the neglect of our constitution from our leaders. I was concerned about attacks on our faith, when it comes down to our freedom of religion. I was concerned about our freedom of speech and so I was concerned about many things with respect to our future. So that still keeps me up because I’ve had an excellent life, a great life, but I want the same for my children. I want the same opportunities for my grandchildren, but even greater opportunities. I see our nation, I see the great state of Texas at times, going backwards instead of forward.

So I look and say, “What can I do?” Right now, I travel the great state of Texas and I speak to conservatives and I speak to great patriots, any and everywhere I can. I don’t care if it’s 200 in a room or it’s 20 in a room. If they invite me, I come out and I speak. I arm them with things that they can use as resources to continue to share the truth and continue to make sure we spread the ideas of conservative values properly and successfully. So these things keep me up, but ultimately I close with this, I believe without a doubt that God is still great. I believe without a doubt that we are a nation that was built on the foundational principles of God’s word. With that being said, I continually close my night as I open my morning, with prayer to God, praying for our great nation, praying for our elected leaders and praying for spiritual leaders, that they continue to hear from God and that the people, ultimately, the body of people will listen to the words of God and respond in the affirmative.

Jonathan Schober:
I love it. Without a doubt, God still has a plan for the United States and God still has a plan for the great state of Texas.

Dr. Tim Westley:
Yes, sir.

Jonathan Schober:
Well, thank you so much for being part of the podcast. Once again, give me the website that you’re at.

Dr. Tim Westley:
You’re more than welcome. The website to find 150 Black men is www.150BOTM.com. So you can find information there on the 150 Black Men of Texas initiative, and you can also find me at timwestley.com.

Jonathan Schober:
Wonderful. So thank you much. So once again, the website is 150bmot, Black Men of Texas.com.

Dr. Tim Westley:
Yes, sir.

Jonathan Schober:
Well, thank you for being part the podcast. If you’ve enjoyed this episode, if you have any suggestions for guests or subject, you can text me directly at 512-729-5712.


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