The subject of the “This Week in Texas History” column for the week of Wednesday, January 15 through Tuesday, January 21 is the second term of Texas’ first female governor.
If husband Jim had not been impeached and permanently banned from public office, Miriam Ferguson never would have gotten into politics. But it was up to her to defend the family’s tarnished honor, and she did a bang-up job winning her first election in 1924 and a second in 1932.
John Connally announced on November 10, 1967 that he had “reluctantly concluded” he would not seek a fourth term as governor of Texas.
In 1971 Connally joined President Nixon’s cabinet as secretary of treasury. The following year, he chaired “Democrats for Nixon” declaring party loyalty sometimes “asks too much,” in this case support for nominee George McGovern. Then in 1973, three months after LBJ died, the Texan officially switched parties. Republicans, however, saw him as a Johnny-come-lately and turned thumbs down on his presidential bid in 1980.
Only a tiny fraction of the many thousands of Texans, who flocked to see President William Howard Taft on his tour of the Lone Star State three years earlier, cast their ballots for the incumbent on November 5, 1912.
The Republican was so encouraged by the big turnout that he told his staff he might win Texas the next time. Instead, Democrat Woodrow Wilson beat him seven to one as the 300-pound Taft, who carried just Vermont and Utah, outpolled Teddy Roosevelt and Socialist Eugene Debs in a photo-finish for second place.
“This Week in Texas History” for Wednesday, August 28 through September 3 examines the fourth and final presidential election held in the Republic of Texas.
With Sam Houston and his chief rival, Mirabeau Lamar, sitting this one out, the two primary candidates generated more yawns than interest. The only thing Edward Burleson had going for him was his reputation as an Indian fighter, while Anson Jones was a little too full of himself for the typical Texan. But someone had to win and preside over the Republic until statehood took effect.
The choice of voters in a Central Texas congressional district, Olin “Tiger” Teague began his 32-year career in the U.S. House of Representatives on August 24, 1946.
A graduate of Texas A&M class of 1932, Teague took part in the Normandy landing and six months later was the second most decorated American soldier of World War II behind Audie Murphy. An advocate for veterans of all wars, poor health forced him to retire after 16 terms.
Rep. Bruce Alger, the first Republican from Texas elected to the U.S. House of Representatives since Harry Wurzbach of Seguin in 1930, addressed the GOP national convention in the San Francisco Cow Palace on August 20, 1956.
The Dallas congressman was reelected four times but went down to defeat in the Goldwater debacle of 1964. Embittered by the loss, Alger quit politics and moved to Florida. In 1976 he returned to Dallas, where he still lives today at the age of 95.
In a speech at San Marcos on July 21, 1893, Tom Nugent, charismatic leader of the People’s Party, blasted the Democratic Party as “an empty shell.”
The former preacher ran a strong third in the 1892 race for governor with a quarter of the vote. Two years later, Nugent put the fear of God in the dominant Democrats with a second-place showing and 36 percent of the turnout. But his death in 1896 at the age of 54 took the wind out of the Populists’ sails.
Senator Sam Houston broke ranks with the Democratic Party and on July 12, 1855 endorsed every candidate of the “Know Nothing” or American Party, that was taking Texas by storm.
Bound by a secret oath to vote only for native-born Protestants, the “Know Nothings” blindsided the Democrats and elected a congressman and a dozen members of the state legislature. But that was their high-water mark, and within two years the “Know Nothings” had vanished from the political scene.
For the 46th and final time, the entire Texas delegation, nicknamed the “Immortal Forty,” cast their ballots for Woodrow Wilson for president on July 2, 1912. The former college professor came to the Democratic Convention with much less support than the favorite, Speaker Champ Clark, but thanks to the Texans he prevailed in the marathon fight for the nomination.
As president Wilson rewarded key Texans for their support. Col. E.M. House, who guided the darkhorse’s campaign, became his trusted advisor, while several other Lone Star politicians wound up on the cabinet.
In the special election held on June 28, 1941 to fill the seat left empty by the death of longtime Senator Morris Sheppard, Lyndon Baines Johnson led Gov. W. Lee O’Daniel by 5,000 votes when he decided to turn in for the night.
After all, the young congressman reasoned, how could “Pass the Biscuits, Pappy” catch him with 96 per cent of the ballots tabulated? But the totals kept trickling in from East Texas, and by the time the winner was declared three days later it was O’Daniel by 1,300 votes.