Sam Rayburn History: Mr. Sam’s Roots and Early Career.

On Thursday, January 28, the Sam Rayburn House State Historic Site and the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History’s Sam Rayburn Museum in Bonham are teaming up to present a look at the life and career of one of the most influential Americans of the 20th Century.

This two-part series will explore Sam Rayburn’s humble beginnings and rise to become the longest serving Speaker of the House of Representatives in US history.

Please enjoy this recording from part 1. Sign up for our Upcoming Events enewsletter to recieve invitations to upcoming Texas History Online events.

  1. It is my understanding that Hatton W. Sumners was involved in defeating the “pack the court” plan. Do you have any information about Sam Rayburn and Hatton W, Sumners on that issue? Sam Rayburn and Hatton Sumners started as congressmen at the same time and often traveled from Texas to Washington, D.C. together on the train. Their friendship became strained over FDR’s court packing plan. Rayburn didn’t like idea, but felt as a loyal Democrat he needed to support his President’s legislative agenda. He also believed that as Majority Leader it was his job to gather the votes needed for the plan to pass. Sumners had loyally supported most of the New Deal legislation, but he felt the plan to expand the court was going too far. As Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Sumners refused to endorse the plan, and eventually formally came out in opposition to the idea. Sumner was joined by two other powerful Texans, Vice President Garner and Senator Tom Connally, in actively fighting the court plan. With their united opposition, Rayburn’s task of drumming up support in the House was nearly impossible. The way in which Rayburn and Sumners each chose to react to FDR’s plan, as well as Sumner’s efforts to bury the proposal in committee, ended their friendship.
  2. Is there a marker locating where Sam's childhood home was located south of Windom? A Texas Historical Marker in Flag Springs commemorates the Rayburn family’s 1887-1912 home, which was located ½ mile from the marker’s location. To reach the marker, you will take FM 1743 south from Windom. There are several other historical markers in Fannin County that cover Sam Rayburn’s life and career. They include:
    1. a marker at Mr. Sam’s gravesite in Willow Wild Cemetery, Bonham
    2. a marker at the Sam Rayburn Museum on the library building
    3. 2 markers at the Sam Rayburn House State Historic Site – one on Sam Rayburn and one on the home he built for his family. 
  3. Where (and whether) did Sam Rayburn attend church in Fannin County? Mr. Rayburn was a member of the Primitive Baptist Church in Tioga, Texas, which is in neighboring Grayson County.
  4. I remember seeing a picture of 4 politicians who attended his funeral in Bonham.  Rayburn’s funeral was attended by President John F. Kennedy, then Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson, and former Presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower and Harry Truman.
  5. I thought you said Rayburn was for free trade when he was first running for US Representative? Rayburn did run on a platform for free trade.  His support of the Underwood tariff bill aligned with that philosophy because the bill was designed to Its purpose was to reduce levies on manufactured and semi-manufactured goods and to eliminate duties on most raw materials.

For more information on historical markers and other destinations, visit and search “Sam Rayburn.”

If you like this post, please subscribe to our blog via RSS or email.