Sam Rayburn was an American politician who served as Speaker of the United States House of Representatives for the longest period of time in US history, 17 years. He was also the only Democrat to serve more than one non-consecutive term as Speaker, and one of just two people in history to do so (the other being Henry Clay). He was first elected to the United States House of Representatives from Texas’s 4th district in 1912, and he continued to serve for nearly five decades until his death in 1961, a record at the time. He grew up on a 40-acre farm in Texas, where he actively engaged in farm work as a young lad, after being born into a large family in Tennessee. He was eight years old when he chose to pursue a career in law and politics, having developed an early interest in both disciplines. He worked his way through college and became interested in politics while still a student, a very hardworking young man. He eventually earned his legal degree and became more involved in political activities. He rose to prominence as a politician over the years, eventually becoming the Democratic leader of the House of Representatives in 1937 and then the Speaker of the House shortly after. He was a well-liked politician who was considered as a gifted legislator.
Childhood and Adolescence
Samuel Taliaferro Rayburn was born in Tennessee on January 6, 1882. With his family, he relocated to a 40-acre cotton farm near Flag Springs, Texas. He had 10 siblings, and everyone in the family contributed to the farm’s success.
As a child, Sam became interested in politics and would often fantasize about giving political speeches while working on the family farm. When he was eight years old, he resolved to pursue a career in law and politics and has never looked back.
After completing his education, he enrolled at East Texas Normal College (now Texas A&M University–Commerce) and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in 1903.
Career of Sam Rayburn
After teaching for a while, he was elected to the Texas House of Representatives in 1907. He also took classes at the University of Texas at Austin during this period and passed the Texas bar exam in 1908.
He was re-elected to the Texas House of Representatives for two more terms, and during his third term, he was chosen Speaker of the House. In the same year, he was elected to the United States House of Representatives as a Democratic Representative, beginning a long and fruitful career of continuous service in Washington, D. C. for over 48 years.
He was named chairman of the influential House Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce in 1931, and he served in that capacity until 1937. As the holder of such a prominent political position, he played a pivotal part in the New Deal, supporting the vast majority of Roosevelt’s proposed legislation.
He was a key figure in the passing of the Truth in Securities Act, which formed the Securities and Exchange Commission, as well as the Public Utilities Holding Company Act and the Emergency Railroad Transportation Act. He also co-sponsored the Rural Electrification Act (REA) with Senator George W. Norris, which was intended to bring electricity to rural areas.
The Speaker of the House, William Bankhead, died unexpectedly in 1940, while Rayburn was serving as Majority Leader of the United States House of Representatives. Rayburn took over as speaker after him and led the House Democrats for the following 21 years.
As Speaker of the House, he formed close bonds with a number of famous politicians, notably Lyndon B. Johnson, whom he mentored throughout his political career. He also formed ties and collaborations with the legislators of newly independent African countries and democracies.
Sam Rayburn was a well-liked politician who was known for upholding moral ideals and upholding high ethical standards. He was a trusted counselor to Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and John F. Kennedy, and was an enthusiastic patriot.
He oversaw some key achievements in the American government throughout his later career. The Civil Rights Act was passed by Congress in 1957, and another Civil Rights Act was passed in 1960. The Hospital Survey and Development Act, the first federal legislation to give federal subsidies for the construction of hospitals and healthcare facilities, was passed in the late 1950s.
Major Projects of Sam Rayburn
Sam Rayburn was the longest-serving Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, serving for 17 years. He was one of just six people to serve more than one non-consecutive term as a proud Democrat. He was regarded for his high moral standards and served as a trusted advisor to successive presidents as Speaker of the House.
Achievements & Awards
Rayburn was presented with a $10,000 award by Collier’s Magazine in 1948 for his excellent congressional service to the country.
In 1960, he earned the Cordell Hull Award and the “Award for Outstanding Republican Public Service” in recognition of his “long watch over foreign commerce and support of liberal policy.”
The Congressional Gold Medal was bestowed on him after his death.
Personal History and Legacy
Sam Rayburn married Metze Jones, the sister of Texas Congressman Marvin Jones and a friend of Rayburn’s. However, the marriage was short-lived and ended in divorce. He never married or had children again. One of his greatest regrets in life was not having a son.
He died on November 16, 1961, at the age of 79, after a long battle with cancer.
Estimated Net Worth
Sam Rayburn is one of the wealthiest politicians and one of the most beloved. Sam Rayburn’s net worth is estimated to be $1.5 million, according to Wikipedia, Forbes, and Business Insider.