Sam Rayburn, the son of a cavalryman in the Confederate Army, was born in Roane County, Tennessee, on 6th January, 1882. Five years later the family moved to a 40 acre cotton farm in Fannin County, Texas. After graduating from East Texas College he became a school teacher. Later he became a lawyer.
Rayburn was a member of the Democratic Party and in 1906 he won a seat in the Texas House of Representatives. In his third term he served as speaker. As he said later: "I saw that all my friends got the good appointments and that those who voted against me for Speaker got none."
In 1912 he was elected to Congress where he represented the Fourth Texas District. In his first term he was appointed to the House Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce. He remained a member for the next 25 years.
In 1927 Rayburn married Metze Jones, the sister of his good friend, John Marvin Jones. The marriage lasted less than three months. Rayburn never remarried.
Rayburn worked closely with John Nance Garner. He was Garner's campaign manager in his attempt to become the Democratic presidential candidate. After Garner's defeat by Franklin D. Roosevelt, Rayburn took part in the negotiations that enabled Garner to become vice president.
As chairman of the Interstate and Foreign Commerce Committee he played an important role in the establishing the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Federal Communications Commission. He also joined forces with George Norris to pass the Rural Electrification Act.
In 1937 Rayburn became majority leader and helped He held the post for three years but in 1940 he was elected speaker. During the two periods of Republican majorities (1947-49 and 1953-55) he served as minority leader. He worked very closely with Lyndon Johnson and supported his attempts in 1956 and 1960 to become the presidential candidate.
Sam Rayburn died on 16th November, 1961. During his career he had developed a reputation for honesty. When he died his savings totaled $15,000.