Perhaps no law enforcement agency in the United States is as well-known and respected as the Texas Rangers. Dating to the days of the Texas Republic (before it became a part of the United States), the Texas Rangers was the first truly national and state police agency in America.
A Very Brief History of the Texas Rangers
When Steven F. Austin contracted with Mexico in 1821 to bring settlers into the region today known as the state of Texas, there was no military protection. Families coming to the territory would face dangers from hostile Native Americans and outlaws, So, Austin decided to organize a group of private citizens he called the Rangers. The year was 1823.
Austin went to Mexico City in 1834 to seek reforms for the Texas Territory. His attempts were met with distrust and Mexican authorities, believing he was fomenting insurrection, had him imprisoned. By the time he returned to Texas in 1834, a group had formed called the Permanent Council. Under the direction of Daniel Parker, the Texas Rangers were officially created.
Initially comprising 25 men with Silas M. Parker commanding, the Texas Rangers would become central to the fledgling Republic of Texas. By late 1836, Sam Houston was to increase their numbers by 280. The mission was to further protect the Texas frontier.
The Texas Rangers Post-Revolution
After the Texas Revolution, the Rangers served mainly to protect citizens from roving bands of Native Americans (then known as Indians). One band of Texas Rangers was positioned along the southern border.
When the Confederate States of America seceded from the Union, Texas, by then a state, joined them. One unit of Rangers from Houston joined the Confederate Army. Known as Terry’s Texas Rangers, the unit would gain fame during that conflict.
After the Civil War, the Texas Rangers were shamefully instrumental in fighting carpetbaggers.
Carpetbaggers were Northerners who moved south during the Reconstruction period. They were so-named because of the luggage they typically brought, often constructed of cheap carpet material. Southerners strongly resented their presence and efforts to ‘Northernize’ the south and states across the south passed laws to restrict their movements and efforts.
From then until the 20th Century, the Texas Rangers would become part of the fabric and lore of the Old West. It was also during this period when the Rangers would transform from a military-style organization into an early modern police force.
The Texas Rangers Today
Much occurred in the Texas Rangers between then and now. For a complete history of the organization, visit the Texas Department of Public Safety.
From 1935 to present, the Texas Rangers have been a part of that state department. It was then and remains separate and distinct from the Texas State Troopers.
Rangers today are an investigative division. They handle major cases and continue to patrol the southern border. In addition, they provide protection to the Governor and other politicians, spearhead forensic investigations in the state, and serve in special capacities as needed. For instance, the Texas Rangers were on hand during the Smith Unit Prison riot in 1999, providing much-needed guidance and tactical expertise.
Those interested in becoming a Texas Ranger must plan for an extensive experience. Eight years in law enforcement minimum is required and military experience does not count toward that number. Preference is given to law enforcement agents with investigation experience, the physical requirements are among the toughest anywhere, and there are multiple tests with very high standards.
Also, there are limited openings each year and the Texas Rangers never have a shortage of applicants, so getting in is a great honor.
Thank You Texas Rangers for 182 Years of Service!
October 17, 1835 the Texas Rangers will have provided 182 years of service to the state of Texas. In that time, the organization has provided much to the development of modern law enforcement. Thank you, Texas Rangers. Happy Anniversary.