final term nearly complete, the governor spoke in Rockdale,
reflecting on his accomplishments and on his state of mind.
The first native-born Texas governor, James
Stephen Hogg had moved from typesetting to newspaper editing
to practicing law. First elected to office as a justice of the peace
in Quitman, by
1886 he was state attorney general and in 1890 became governor.
Hogg's second gubernatorial campaign had been rough. His opponent,
Judge George Clark of Waco,
was also a lawyer, but unlike Hogg,
who weighed 350 pounds, Clark was dimenutive. Still, he was a political
king maker whose friends called him the Little Giant.
Back then Texas for all practical purposes was a one-party state.
The two Democratic factions, however, acted like separate parties.
ran as the protector of the common man, Clark was seen as the lackey
of the corporate big boys.
Long before anyone conceived television attack ads, politics was
as likely to be physical as rhetorical. The Clark-Hogg campaign
touched off numerous fist fights across the state.
"Brother was often arrayed against brother and father against son,"
Judge C.V. Terrell recalled. "The closest ties of friendship were
too often severed."
A couple of campaign debates ended so raucously that both sides,
fearing serious violence, wisely agreed to schedule no more.
the same time, Wick Blanton and Tom Morris ran against each other
for the honor of being county attorney of Wilson
Blanton was a populist and Morris a prohibitionist. They may have
belonged to different camps, but that did not interfere with their
In fact, they even campaigned together, traveling in a buggy between
the various towns in Wilson
County. At each voting precinct, they gave a stump speech and
debated their positions.
"Their dispositions were sunny and bibulous," a mutual acquaintance
later wrote. "Both tongues were loose at both ends - and full of
fire and wit in the middle."
Despite their political differences on the availability of alcohol,
they always had as their traveling companion a jug of whiskey. They
partook of it before an oration and afterward to slack their thirst
as they bumped along the county's two-rut roads.
Even before potential voters, their friendship held. Always fair
and polite, the only exception came when "they derided each other
for having no more brains than to support the political parties
they respectively espoused."
Beyond speechifying, they hit up individuals to seek their vote.
During one such conversation, a poll tax payer who had been on the
fence finally agreed to cast his vote for Morris.
"I'm mighty glad to see you coming across to the Democratic side
again," Morris told the man. "It's the party of our fathers, and
the greatest one on earth."
Then the man
burst Morris' political bubble. He decision had not been based on
his campaign, he said. What had made the difference was a story
making the rounds that Blanton had been arrested in San
Antonio for being drunk.
Morris said. "I'd like to have you vote for me….But I don't want
your voted on a damned lie."
for a fact that his opponent had not been drunk in San
Antonio because he and Blanton had been drunk in Wilson
County. He couldn't have his friend lose a vote over something
he was just as guilty of as Blanton.
case meticulously, Morris succeeded in convincing the man of the
truth: Blanton had been in Wilson
County on the night in question, making a campaign appearance
with Morris. A Wilson
County lawyer had indeed been arrested in San
Antonio, but it had been a third party, not Blanton.
"I'm glad you told me that," the voter said. "Wick's all right,
then. And he gets my vote."
Morris shook hands with the man and left, well aware that by being
truthful, he had cost himself one vote. The first person he told
the story to was Blanton - over a drink. Blanton ended up winning
at the state level, the Democratic convention in Houston
threatened to spin out of control. When Hogg
supporters blocked Clark delegates from reaching the elevated platform
at the head of the convention hall, pro-Clark forces vacated the
premises and staged their own meeting elsewhere.
No one got hurt or killed, but when the two meetings ended, the
state had two full Democratic slates to pick from on election day.
Despite the support of most of the bigger city newspapers, Clark
and his fellow candidates did not prevail in the balloting. The
man called Texas' only two-footed hog won reelection by nearly 200,000
In his Rockdale
swan song, Hogg
listed what he considered his successes. Yet he seemed happy that
his political career was over.
"For once in my life," Hogg
said, "I am at peace with the world and mankind, politically, personally
The governor had a similar hope for his native state. What he wished
was that "never again shall political storms...rise to disturb the
equilibrium, repose, tranquility and good order of our people."
has been permanently at peace since March 3, 1906, but political
storms have continued to rise.
© Mike Cox
"Texas Tales" November
9, 2016 column