Known affectionately as "Mr. Sam," Sam Rayburn helped pass some of the twentieth century's most important legislation, working, as he put it, "with, not under," eight Presidents. Elected to Congress in 1912, he spent forty-nine years in the U.S. House of Representatives, including a record seventeen years as House Speaker. A master of the political process, Rayburn was widely respected for his integrity and fairness. 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»

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Portrait of Sam Rayburn by Tom Lea, 1966. Oil on canvas, 60 x 40. Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, DC. © James D. Lea.