CAMPAIGN 2016: Looking for a little wisdom from past leaders
Let us reform without being vengeful.
Let us cure without crushing.
Let us take the path of justice and common sense,
for down the road lies the America of our dreams,
with peace and plenty and justice for all.
— Sam Rayburn, Speaker of U.S. House of Representatives for 17 years
AS WE BEGIN TWO LONG WEEKS OF POLITICAL CONVENTIONS, perhaps a few words from leaders who earned great respect might be just the ticket.
Sam Rayburn, a Texas Democrat, was smart and tough and knew how tomake things happen. But there was another side to him — a side of integrity and understanding right from wrong.
Rayburn began his career in politics at a time when it was common for legislators to also be on the payroll of big corporations. Sam's law firm represented Santa Fe Railroad. One day, his partner walked in with a big check for him from the railroad. Sam turned it down flat. He said he might be called on to legislate matters concerning the railroad.
Years later in Congress, a wealthy oil man had a very expensive horse delivered to Rayburn's farm. No one knew except the oil man, Rayburn and one staffer. Rayburn sent the horse back.
SAM RAYBURN (1882–1961) WAS FROM BONHAM, TEXAS AND SERVED AS SPEAKER OF THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES FOR 17 YEARS, THE LONGEST TENURE IN U.S. HISTORY.
Rayburn grew up on a cotton farm, graduated from what is now Texas A&M University and became a schoolteacher.
He was elected to the Texas Legislature in 1907. Five years later, he was elected to the U.S. Congress at the beginning of Woodrow Wilson's presidency and served for almost 49 years (more than 24 terms) until the beginning of John F. Kennedy's presidency.
In 1940, Rayburn became Speaker of the House, a post he held for 17 years.
A protege of Vice President of the United States John Nance Garner, Rayburn was a close friend and mentor of Lyndon B. Johnson. Rayburn was instrumental in Lyndon Johnson's ascent to power. Like Johnson, Rayburn did not sign the Southern Manifesto, a law which attempted to block racial integration.