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Texas Originals

Former US Representative Sam Rayburn

He was a masterful politician who served almost 50 years in Congress.

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Modell-portrait-of-Sam-Rayburn.jpg 

SAMUEL (SAM) TALIAFERRO RAYBURN
January 6, 1882–November 16, 1961

 

As a young man, Sam Rayburn audaciously declared that he would study law, enter politics, and one day serve in the United States Congress.

He went on to spend forty-nine years in the U.S. House of Representatives, including a record seventeen years as House Speaker. Known affectionately as “Mr. Sam,” Rayburn helped pass some of the twentieth century’s most important legislation, working, as he put it, “with, not under,” eight Presidents.

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Photograph of Senator Clarence Dill, President Franklin Roosevelt and Sam Rayburn in 1933.

Born in Tennessee in 1882, Rayburn moved with his family to Fannin County, Texas, when he was five. As a young man, he served three terms in the state legislature and studied enough law at the University of Texas to pass the bar.

Rayburn was elected to Congress in 1912. As chair of the powerful Interstate and Foreign Commerce Committee, he advanced legislation creating the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Federal Communications Commission. During the Depression, he sponsored key measures of Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal and was instrumental in ensuring the nation’s preparedness for World War II.

A master of the political process, Rayburn was widely respected for his integrity and fairness. He also served as a mentor to many congressmen, including Lyndon Johnson.

Shortly before his death in 1961, Rayburn said of his career: “I am one man in public life who is satisfied, who has achieved every ambition of his youth.”

 

For more about Sam Rayburn

The Sam Rayburn Papers are held by the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History at The University of Texas at Austin. These include correspondence, speeches, interviews, newspaper clippings, and other materials documenting Rayburn’s political career.

In 1949, Sam Rayburn was awarded the Collier’s Award for distinguished service to the country. He used the $10,000 prize to help establish the Sam Rayburn Museum in Bonham, Texas, as a tribute to the people of Fannin County. The museum is now a division of UT Austin’s Briscoe Center for American History. It is open to the public and contains mementoes of Rayburn’s life and career, including his extensive personal library.

Rayburn’s former home, just west of Bonham, is now the Sam Rayburn House Museum, a Texas Historical Commission property that seeks to increase awareness of Rayburn’s life and career through exhibits and guided tours.

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Photograph of Sam Rayburn (far-left), Lyndon Johnson (second to the left), and two other men standing outdoors in a row. Photo by Norman Dietel.

 

Selected bibliography

Caro, Robert A. The Years of Lyndon Johnson: The Path to Power. New York: Knopf, 1982.

Champagne, Anthony C. Congressman Sam Rayburn. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1984.

Sam Rayburn: A Bio-Bibliography. New York: Greenwood, 1988.

Dorough, C. Dwight. Mr. Sam. New York: Random House, 1962.

Hardeman, D.B. and Donald C. Bacon. Rayburn: A Biography. Austin: Texas Monthly Press, 1987.

Steinberg, Alfred. Sam Rayburn. New York: Hawthorn Press, 1975.

 

Image were all found on the texashistory.unt.edu portal site. Citations below:

Modell. Photo of Sam Rayburn, Photograph, 1950-1969; (http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth183532/ : accessed February 17, 2015), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, http://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Sam Rayburn House Museum, Bonham, Texas.

Photograph of Senator Clarence Dill, President Franklin Roosevelt and Sam Rayburn, Photograph, 1933; (http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth183533/ : accessed February 17, 2015), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, http://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Sam Rayburn House Museum, Bonham, Texas.

Dietel, Norman. [Sam Rayburn, Lyndon Johnson, and Two Other Men], Photograph, n.d.; (http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth63785/ : accessed February 17, 2015), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, http://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting LBJ Museum of San Marcos , San Marcos, Texas.