Fear, Force, and Leather: The Texas Prison System&rsquot;s First Hundred Years 1848-1948

Directors of the State Penitentiary to Governor Peter H. Bell, November 11, 1851

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Directors of the state penitentiary to Governor Bell, November 1851

to the northern states, or Europe, to have it manufactured, building
up their own monopolies to the prejudice of our common interests
at home. We are well aware that this cannot be done at the present
session of the legislature. But with a view to that object, let a
sufficient appropriation be made now, to complete the buil-
dings, and enclose the grounds, then would the interests of the
citizens of the State be advanced, and the mechanical arts of
our country protected, and in a few years, the institution
would be a source of revenue to the State. It is with the honor-
able legislature to act and we feel well assured that they
will give the subject that investigation, which it merits at
their hands. In any event, it is highly necessary that
the ground should be enclosed, and the buildings erected[.]
It is essential, in a pecuniary point of view, it will dim-
inish the number of guard[s] and make the convicts[sic] labor
more profitable. But it is also essential for one other
reason. Should the Penitentiary continue in the receipt of
convicts in the same ratio as heretofore, there will be no cells
for their safe keeping [sic]. To that end we have requested the
Superintendant [sic] to prepare an estimate of the amount that
would be needed, to complete the buildings as contem-
plated, in the approved plan, which has been approved by
us and herewith submitted and referred to. Also an
estimate of the ordinary expenses of the penitentiary for the
ensuing two years. From an examination of which it will
appear that it will require to finish the Penitentiary $25,362.74

Ordinary expenses 19,174.45


And here one would most respectfully urge upon your excellency
the great necessity which exists of a separation of the
duties of purchasing agent and clerk from that of superintendant [sic]. The
duties are dissimilar in their character, and conflicting in
their nature. This duty as a superintendant [sic] requires all his
time at the Penitentiary[.] [A]s purchasing agent, he is bound to

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Directors of the State Penitentiary to Governor Peter H. Bell, November 11, 1851. Correspondence Concerning the Penitentiary, Records Relating to the Penitentiary, Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

Page last modified: February 9, 2016