Free State of Galveston

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Free State of Galveston
File:Beach hotel galveston.jpg
Galveston, Texas
1920-1957

The Free State of Galveston (sometimes referred to as the Republic of Galveston Island) was a whimsical name given to the island city of Galveston in the U.S. state of Texas during the early-to-mid-20th century. Today, the term is sometimes used to describe the culture and history of that era.

During the Roaring Twenties, Galveston Island emerged as a popular resort town, attracting celebrities from around the country. Gambling, illegal liquor, and other vice-oriented businesses were a major part of tourism. The Free State moniker embodied a belief held by many locals that Galveston was beyond what they perceived were repressive mores and laws of Texas and the United States. Two major figures of the era were the organized-crime bosses Sam andRosario Maceo, who ran the chief casinos and clubs on the island and were heavily involved in the government and the tourism industry. The success of vice on the island, despite being illegal, was enabled by lax attitudes in the society and the government, both on the island and in the county. In one of the more famous examples of this, a state committee, investigating gambling at the famed Balinese Room, was told by the local sheriff that he had not raided the establishment because it was a "private club" and because he was not a "member".

Much of this period represented a high point in Galveston's economy. It is sometimes referred to as the "open era" or the "wide-open era" because the business owners and the community made little effort to hide the illegal vice activities. The tourist industry spawned by the illegal businesses helped to offset Galveston's decline as a commercial and shipping center following a devastating hurricane in 1900. However, crackdowns against gambling and prostitution in Texas during the mid-20th century made these businesses increasingly difficult to sustain. By the 1950s, this era of Galveston's history had ended.

Sources: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_State_of_Galveston

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