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Texas | Columns | All Things Historical

JAMES STEPHEN HOGG

by Archie P. McDonald, PhD
Archie McDonald, PhD
Historian Joe Frantz observed that all Texas governors are judged by the standard set by James Stephen Hogg. Frantz said he knew this was true because the introduction of nearly every governor in the twentieth century said that the incumbent was "the best since Jim Hogg."

Jim Hogg certainly was one of the best, and he claimed another distinction: the first governor born in the state. Hogg was born in Rusk, Texas, in 1851. He was tutored privately before attending a formal school in Alabama.
Jim Hogg

Jim Hogg
Photo wikipedia

Hogg returned to Texas and worked as a typesetter for the newspaper in Rusk before editing newspapers in Tyler, Longview, and Quitman. While working in Quitman, Hogg married Sarah (Sallie) Stinson. He served as county attorney for Wood County and then district attorney for the Seventh District.

Hogg was elected attorney general of Texas in 1886, the year Lawrence Sullivan (Sul) Ross was elected governor. Ross supported Hogg's crusades against the insurance and railroad industries, which resulted in savings for policy holders and better transportation services.

Hogg lost some, too. In the "Grass Lease Cases" he was unable to force renegotiation of "sweetheart" deals that allowed West Texas cattle raisers use of public lands for grazing without paying market value, and he lost the "Drummer Tax" case, or a tax on traveling salesmen. On the whole, though, he won the votes of a majority of Texans because they knew he was fighting for their interests. Hogg won reelection in 1888 and then was elected governor in 1890 and 1892.

Governor Hogg introduced the Progressive Era to Texas. He persuaded the legislature to create the Railroad Commission, the first state regulatory agency in America, and institute a number of reforms in stock and bond transactions.

After retiring from the governor's office in 1895, Hogg, who had not made much money while in public service, became a millionaire through the practice of law and lucrative investments associated with the new oil industry. His daughter, Ima Hogg, used that fortune in many philanthropic ways until her own death in 1975.

And no, there were no children named Ura Hogg or Hesa Hogg.


All Things Historical
August 27, 2000
Published by permission.
(Archie McDonald is author of Pioneers, Poke Sallet and Politics with Bob Bowman. It is available through the East Texas Historical Association, Nacogdoches)

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