Cover image for Ralph W. Yarborough, the people's senator
Ralph W. Yarborough, the people's senator
Cox, Patrick, 1952-
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
Austin : University of Texas Press, [2001]

Physical Description:
xviii, 348 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
E840.8.Y3 C69 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Shortlisted, Semifinalist, 22nd Annual Robert F. Kennedy Book AwardFinalist, Spur Award in western nonfiction biography, Western Writers of America

Revered by many Texans and other Americans as "the People's Senator," Ralph Webster Yarborough (1903-1996) fought for "the little people" in a political career that places him in the ranks of the most influential leaders in Texas history. The only U. S. Senator representing a former Confederate state to vote for every significant piece of modern civil rights legislation, Yarborough became a cornerstone of Lyndon Johnson's Great Society programs in the areas of education, environmental preservation, and health care. In doing so, he played a major role in the social and economic modernization of Texas and the American South. He often defied conventional political wisdom with his stands against powerful political interests and with his vocal opposition to the Vietnam War. Yet to this day, his admirers speak of Yarborough as an inspiration for public service and a model of political independence and integrity.

This biography offers the first in-depth look at the life and career of Ralph Yarborough. Patrick L. Cox draws on Yarborough's personal and professional papers, as well as on extensive interviews with the Senator and his associates, to follow Yarborough from his formative years in East Texas through his legal and judicial career in the 1930s, decorated military service in World War II, unsuccessful campaigns for Texas governor in the 1950s, distinguished tenure in the United States Senate from 1957 to 1970, and return to legal practice through the 1980s.

Although Yarborough's liberal politics set him at odds with most of the Texas power brokers of his time, including Lyndon Johnson, his accomplishments have become part of the national fabric. Medicare recipients, beneficiaries of the Cold War G. I. Bill, and even beachcombers on Padre Island National Seashore all share in the lasting legacy of Senator Ralph Yarborough.

Author Notes

Patrick Cox is Historian at the Center for American History at the University of Texas at Austin.

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Publisher's Weekly Review

In Ralph W. Yarborough: The People's Senator, University of Texas historian Patrick Cox explores just what the Texas congressman (1903-1996) did to earn that honorable nickname. From his legal and judicial career in the 1930s and his service in WWII to his failed gubernatorial campaigns and his successful years in the U.S. Senate, Yarborough was, Cox writes, "a man of the people who fought for the people." A champion of civil rights, education, historical preservation and health care, Yarborough was a defiant, dedicated liberal in the face of conservative Southern politics, and inspired a "living legacy of Texas officeholders" to emulate him. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy contributes a foreword. Illus. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Table of Contents

Senator Edward Kennedy
Forewordp. ix
Acknowledgmentsp. xi
Introductionp. xv
1 It Was a Joyous Boyhoodp. 1
2 The Million-Dollar Victoryp. 18
3 A Man Who Had to Earn His Wayp. 39
4 The Hamburger Campaignp. 60
5 We Saw the Worstp. 80
6 The Strong Acid Testp. 96
7 Coonskins and Coon Huntersp. 122
8 Put the Jam on the Lower Shelfp. 139
9 Problems with Johnson and Rayburnp. 162
10 The Rancid Smell of Gunpowderp. 185
11 The Struggle for the Soul of the Nationp. 201
12 Acts of Congress and Acts of Madnessp. 229
13 Final Senate Years and Election Defeatp. 254
14 The Last Hurrahp. 267
Afterwordp. 281
Notesp. 287
Bibliographyp. 321
Indexp. 337