Making Texas history is in former Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison’s blood.
Her great-great-grandfather, Charles S. Taylor, moved to the Lone Star State in 1828, and was one of the signers of the Texas Declaration of Independence. Her family has lived here ever since.
It was her own family history, along with admiration for the Texas spirit, that inspired the Bluffview resident’s third book, Unflinching Courage: Pioneering Women Who Shaped Texas.
The book focuses on the 19th-century women who helped colonize the state. These women endured treacherous journeys to their new home, and they lacked access to basic household items such as furniture or soap.
“But they did it with such a spirit — a positive attitude, a positive spirit,” Hutchison said. “They created gaiety and culture wherever they were. These were basically genteel, southern women from other states that were educated. They played the piano; they had a nice quality life; and they came to Texas and found nothing.”
The author cited Tho-mas Rusk, Texas’ one-time secretary of war, as the inspiration for the title. In his report on the Texas Revolution, Rusk stated, “the men of Texas deserve much credit. But more was due the women. Armed men facing the foe could not but be brave. But the women, with their little children around them, without means of defense or power to resist, faced danger and death with unflinching courage.”
Hutchison credits the courage and strength of these pioneer women as a foundation for the Texas spirit.
“It makes us revere the women who settled this state, and what they went through,” she said. “They kept going and never gave up. It’s inspiring today. The things that we’re facing just pale in significance compared to what they went through, and they put a stamp on Texas, and we’ve got to make sure it continues.”
Hutchison is no stranger to pioneering in the political sphere; many say she is one herself.
Katherine Turk, an assistant professor of historical studies at UT-Dallas, said Hutchison helped to open up the political sphere to women in two ways.
“Hutchison undermined the stereotype that the face of political leadership was rightfully a man’s face,” Turk said. “She helped to make it possible for women in politics to be evaluated for their ideas and their abilities, rather than to be viewed first and foremost as members of a minority group.”
Turk also cited the fact that Hutchison and her husband, Ray, adopted two young children while she was still a senator.
“Her example has demonstrated to other women that active motherhood and a distinguished political career are not incompatible,” she said.