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Charles H. Howard

Charles Howard, a Missouri lawyer, arrived in El Paso in 1872. A Democrat, he vigorously campaigned (thus the campaign sign) and was elected District Judge in El Paso despite it being a Republican strong hold. He did this, in part, with the help of Louis Cardis, a “behind the scenes” politico with strong influence with the Mexican-Americans in El Paso.

However, the alliance between Cardis and Howard soon dissolved when Howard filed ownership on the salt deposits at the base of the Guadalupe Mountains. Years of intense vying by businessmen over the rights to the salt flats became known as the “Salt Wars.” Howard’s scheme infuriated Cardis and the Mexican Americans who felt taken advantage of. They felt that the salt was a public resource and should be shared by the community. In retaliation, Cardis incited a mob of angry Mexican Americans that held Howard captive in San Elizario for three days.

Howard escaped with the help of the Texas Rangers, but soon returned for revenge against Cardis. On October 7, 1877, Howard found Cardis hiding under his desk at his office and shot him dead with a shotgun. Howard was arraigned for the murder on November 17, but was freed on $4,000 bail. Two months later, Howard and his escorts were tracked down by a firing squad of five men and executed.

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Speculate as to why the relationship between Charles Howard and Louis Cardis dissolved.

Related Links:

San Angelo Standard-Times history article

Texas Handbook

Read More, Learn More:

Sonnichsen, C. L. 1961. The El Paso Salt War. Texas Western Press.

Broaddus, J. Morgan. 1963. The Legal Heritage of El Paso. El Paso: Texas Western College Press.