W.D. Hawkins to Ferguson, April 13, 1934

Lawlessness was a major issue during the second administration of Ma Ferguson. Upon taking office, she had fired the Texas Rangers for their support of Governor Sterling in the election, and replaced them with political appointees, some of whom used their status as law enforcement officers as a cover for gambling operations, theft, embezzlement, and even murder. Respect for law enforcement plummeted and Texas became known as a sanctuary for gangsters and bank robbers.

None were more famous than Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker of Dallas. Beginning in 1932, Bonnie and Clyde and several others formed a gang which perpetrated a series of violent holdups in the Southwest and Midwest, murdering a dozen people in the process. They were constantly on the run, committing one robbery after another while staying one step ahead of the law. As the manhunt intensified, Governor Ferguson's mail bag was full of helpful suggestions from citizens on how to catch the notorious pair, as this example shows.

Finally, Governor Ferguson and the head of the Texas prison system hired former Texas Ranger Frank Hamer to track down the outlaws. On May 24, 1933, Hamer tracked Bonnie and Clyde to Arcadia, Louisiana, where he arranged an ambush. Bonnie and Clyde were killed in a barrage of 167 bullets. But thanks to Hollywood, their legend lives on.

"The Politics of Personality"

W.D. Hawkins to Gov. Ferguson

"The Politics of Personality"

W.D. Hawkins to Ferguson, April 13, 1934, Records of Miriam A. Ferguson, Texas Office of the Governor, Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

Page last modified: March 30, 2011