Lilia R. Mora

Publication Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in History & Political Thought, History Concentration (MA)

Committee Chair

Thompson, Jerry D.


This thesis focuses on the opposition to the Independent Club in Laredo, Texas, during the Great Depression. The Independent Club, one of the most influential political machines in South Texas, originated in the 1890s as a result of a rivalry between two political groups in Laredo, Texas—the Botas (Boots) and the Guaraches (Sandals). After the two parties consolidated their efforts and formed the Independent Club in 1894, the party came to dominate Laredo politics for eight decades, until its collapse in 1978. The Independent Club ran unopposed for several decades until the citizens of Laredo and Webb County, displeased with the way the city and county government were dealing with the effects of the Great Depression, formed the Progressives Citizens Party and attempted to remove Independent Club members from office. Focused primarily on issues of taxation and education, El Partido de la Garra, as the party was known, campaigned vigorously, and gained a large following. While in the end, the party was not successful in undoing the patron system and removing the followers of Albert Martin from office, the Progressive Citizens Party planted the seeds of opposition in the minds of the people. In fact, the party was largely responsible for Mayor Albert Martin’s decision to step down from office in 1939. El Partido de la Garra’s resilience inspired the reformers of the late-1950s to challenge the Independent Club, as well as those reformers in 1978 who helped to overthrow the “Old Party.”