Transcript of Samuel "Sam" Taliaferro Rayburn

This is Texas Originals. From Humanities Texas, for the advancement of heritage, culture, and education.

As a young man, Sam Rayburn audaciously declared that he would study law, enter politics, and one day serve in the United States Congress.

He went on to spend forty-nine years in the U.S. House of Representatives, including a record seventeen years as House Speaker. Known affectionately as "Mr. Sam," Rayburn helped pass some of the twentieth century's most important legislation, working, as he put it, "with, not under," eight Presidents.

Born in Tennessee in 1882, Rayburn moved with his family to Fannin County, Texas, when he was five. As a young man, he served three terms in the state legislature and studied enough law at the University of Texas to pass the bar.

Rayburn was elected to Congress in 1912. As chair of the powerful Interstate and Foreign Commerce Committee, he advanced legislation creating the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Federal Communications Commission. During the Depression, he sponsored key measures of Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal and was instrumental in ensuring the nation's preparedness for World War II.

A master of the political process, Rayburn was widely respected for his integrity and fairness. He also served as a mentor to many congressmen, including Lyndon Johnson.

Shortly before his death in 1961, Rayburn said of his career: "I am one man in public life who is satisfied, who has achieved every ambition of his youth."

More information about Sam Rayburn and other Texas Originals is available at This program is produced by Houston Public Radio and Humanities Texas, with funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities.