Portraits of Texas Governors

The Politics of Personality Part 2, 1927-1939

Dan Moody

Dan Moody

January 17, 1927 - January 20, 1931

Link - 1928 presidential election letter

Letter on Moody's "dry" stance at the 1928 Democratic Convention



Born: June 1, 1893 Taylor, Williamson County, Texas

Early Career: Moody attended the University of Texas from 1910 to 1914, although he did not graduate. Moody passed the bar and began practicing law in Taylor prior to World War I. He joined the Texas National Guard during the war. After being elected Williamson County attorney in 1920, Moody became district attorney two years later. He worked against the Ku Klux Klan, becoming known statewide, and was elected attorney general in 1924 at the age of thirty-one. In 1926 Moody ran for governor, blaming Governor Miriam Ferguson and her husband for the corruption and inefficiency in state government.

Accomplishments: Moody became the youngest governor and the first to hold an outdoor inaugural ceremony when he took office in January 1927. During his terms in office he sought reform of the judiciary, taxation, and the prison system; improvements in the highway system and education; and development of a uniform accounting system and creation of a state civil service system. The legislature passed only about half of Moody's proposals: funding for education was increased, taxes were reduced, the highway system was expanded, and the administration of the prison system was changed superficially.

Later years: After retiring from the governor's office, Moody practiced law in Austin. He ran for the Senate in 1942, but was defeated. Moody died on May 22, 1966 and was buried in the state cemetery in Austin.

Handbook of Texas article about Governor Dan Moody

View Photographs of Governor Dan Moody

Link - Letter from Frank Hamer on Sherman riot

Statement from famed Texas Ranger Frank Hamer on the Sherman Riot



First talking pictures

Charles Lindbergh flies solo across the Atlantic

Alexander Fleming discovers penicillin

Jun 26-29 1928
Democratic National Convention held in Houston; first party convention held in the South since 1860

Walt Disney introduces Mickey Mouse

Babe Ruth hits 60 home runs

Feb 17 1929
League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) founded in Corpus Christi

Average annual income less than $2000

Over 15 million Model Ts on the road

Oct 15 1929
Ruby Red grapefruit developed

Wall Street crash

May 6 1930
At least 29 tornadoes hit Texas, killing 82

Sep 5 1930
Discovery of huge oil field in East Texas

Bobby Jones wins "Grand Slam" of golf

1300 bank failures in 1930

Ross S. Sterling

Ross Sterling

January 20, 1931 - January 17, 1933

Link - Telegram from Huey Long

Telegram from Huey Long on the cotton crisis





Born: February 11, 1875 in Anahuac, Chambers County, Texas

Early Career: Sterling grew up on a farm and, after little formal education, began working as a clerk at the age of twelve. At the age of 21 he started his own merchandising business, and in 1911 he organized the Humble Oil Company. In addition to oil, Sterling was also involved in a railroad, a newspaper, banking, and real estate in the Houston area, and was an active member of the Houston Port Commission. He served as chair of the Highway Commission under Governor Dan Moody.

Accomplishments: Sterling defeated former governor Miriam Ferguson and several other candidates in the 1930 race for governor. When Sterling took office, the worst effects of the Depression were beginning to appear in the state. Appropriations exceeded revenues, and Sterling had to veto funding for education and other programs. During Sterling's term in office, the East Texas oil fields experienced rapid and uncontrolled development. The Railroad Commission attempted proration, but the courts struck the plan down. Because of the chaotic situation, Sterling declared martial law in four counties for six months. National Guard troops were sent to the oil fields to limit waste and control production. This action was later declared unwarranted by the federal district court and the U.S. Supreme Court, and the Railroad Commission's plan for proration was accepted. Cotton prices also suffered during Sterling's term in office.

Later years: Governor Sterling was defeated by Miriam Ferguson in his attempt at reelection in 1932. He was a very successful oil man and philanthropist. Ross Sterling died on March 25, 1949.

Handbook of Texas article about Governor Ross S. Sterling

View photos of Governor Ross S. Sterling

Link - Telegram on oil crisis

Telegram on East Texas oil crisis



4 to 5 million unemployed

Carmichael's "Georgia on My Mind"

"Scottsboro Boys" case becomes cause celebre

Jun 23 1931
Wiley Post begins flight around the world

Marx Brothers' Monkey Business

July 1931
Oklahoma sends National Guard troops to Texas border in dispute over a bridge on the Red River

Japanese occupy Manchuria

Comic strip "Dick Tracy" debuts

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia founded

Oct 25 1931
First Texas prison rodeo

Dec 13 1931
Huge Conroe oil and gas field discovered

350,000 unemployed in Texas

"Brother, Can You Spare a Dime"

Lindbergh baby kidnapped

Amelia Earhart becomes first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic

5000 banks fail

13 million Americans unemployed; wages down by 60 percent


Miriam A. Ferguson

Ma Ferguson

January 17, 1933 - January 15, 1935

Link - Letter on Bonnie and Clyde

Offer from a citizen to help track down Bonnie and Clyde


Miriam Amanda Ferguson had previously served one term as governor - January 20, 1925 - January 17, 1927. She ran for governor twice in the interim; in 1926 she was defeated in the primary by Dan Moody, and in 1930 she was defeated in the run-off primary by Ross Sterling.

In 1932, promising to reduce taxes, Ferguson defeated Governor Ross Sterling in the run-off primary and the Republican candidate in the general election. Her proposal for a corporate income tax failed in the legislature, but her practice of granting liberal pardons continued.

Later years: Ferguson remained in political semi-retirement until 1940 when she attempted to unseat Governor Lee O'Daniel. She was widowed in 1944, and died in 1961.

Handbook of Texas article about Governor Miriam A. Ferguson

Link - Letter from Harry Hopkins

Letter from Harry Hopkins on
New Deal federal relief


Hitler becomes chancellor of Germany

Franklin Roosevelt introduces New Deal

Jul 28 1933
Cotton acreage reduction program begins

2000 rural schools do not open for fall semester; 2.3 million children not in school

NRA Blue Eagle: "We Do Our Part"

Dust storms begin

Benny Goodman organizes orchestra, becomes "King of Swing"

Shirley Temple sings "On the Good Ship Lollipop"

May 24 1934
Bonnie and Clyde killed by lawmen

James V Allred

James V Allred

January 15, 1935 - January 17, 1939



Link - Letters on Sarah T. Hughes

on the appointment of Sarah T. Hughes, first woman district judge in Texas


Born: March 29, 1899, in Bowie, Texas

Early Career: Allred enrolled in Rice Institute (now Rice University) but withdrew for financial reasons. He served with the U.S. Immigration Service and then enlisted in the Navy during World War I. After the war, he studied law at Cumberland University in Tennessee and began practice in Wichita Falls. In 1923 he was named to an unexpired term as district attorney for the 30th District, which included Wichita, Archer, and Young counties. Allred became known as "the fighting district attorney" for his opposition to the Ku Klux Klan. He ran an unsuccessful race for state attorney general in 1926, then was elected to the post in 1930, where he campaigned against the undue influence of monopolies and large businesses.

Accomplishments: Allred devoted most of his first term of office to cooperating with federal programs designed to combat the Great Depression. He won approval for measures to provide increased support for public education, highway construction, the establishment of the Texas Department of Public Safety, and expanded services for the elderly and needy, though the legislature refused to fund many of the programs. Allred won national note, including a nod from the Junior Chamber of Commerce as "Outstanding Young Man in America" in 1935. He easily won reelection.

Allred's second term saw passage of a teacher retirement system, broadened social security and welfare provisions, expansion of state services, increased support for education, and higher pay for state officials. Again, the legislature refused to fund many of Allred's initiatives.

Later years: Allred was named by President Roosevelt to a federal judgeship, where he began service when he left the governorship in 1939. He resigned from the bench to run unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate in 1942. He returned to private practice until President Truman named him once again to a federal judgeship in 1949. He died on September 24, 1959.

Handbook of Texas article about Governor James V Allred

View Photographs of Governor James V Allred

Link - Letter from LBJ

Letter from Lyndon B. Johnson,
director of the National Youth Administration in Texas


Rural electrification

Alcoholics Anonymous founded

Social Security Act

Nov 1935
Texas voters repeal prohibition

Jun 6 - Nov 29 1936
Texas Centennial Exposition in Dallas

Jesse Owens wins 4 gold medals at Munich Olympics

Aug 12 1936
Temperature hits 120 degrees in Seymour, hottest temperature ever recorded in Texas

Edward VIII abdicates the throne to marry Wallis Simpson

Lindbergh kidnapping trial

Count Basie's "One O'Clock Jump"


Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

Mar 18 1937
Massive natural-gas explosion kills 311 students and teachers at a school in New London

Apr 10 1937
Lyndon Johnson elected to Congress

The Hindenburg crashes

Jun 17 1937
Kilgore oil field discovered

Joe Louis becomes heavyweight champion

Amelia Earhart disappears

Munich agreement with Hitler

Orson Welles' "Invasion from Mars" panics listeners

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Page last modified: June 29, 2022