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Free Grass & Fence-Cutting Speech

193. TERRELL, A. W. Speech of Hon. A. W. Terrell, Delivered in the Senate of Texas , January 21, 1884 , on Senate Bill No. 2, Entitled “An Act to Regulate the Grazing of Stock in Texas , and to Prescribe and Provide Penalties for its Violation.” Reported by Thos. H. Wheless. Austin : E. W. Swindells, State Printer, 1884. 24 pp. 8vo, original salmon printed wrappers, stapled (as issued). Some minor chipping and staining to wraps and small piece of tape on upper wrapper, overall very good.

     First edition. Adams , Herd 2240: “Rare.... Also deals with fence cutting.” Raines, p. 201: “Commonly called the ‘Free Grass Bill.’” The fierce debate erupted in 1883 over fence-cutting and the open range. By the fall of 1883 it was estimated that upwards of $20,000,000 damage had been inflicted by the fence-cutters. Although politicians shied from the issue, a special session of the legislature was called for January 1884. Terrell’s impassioned and lengthy speech strongly condemns “free grass,” fence cutting, and all of the pernicious evils attendant to illegal use of both private and public lands. Ultimately, fence-cutting was made a felony punishable by one to five years in prison, and ranching in Texas changed forever. ($200-400)

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