Ralph W. Yarborough

Ralph W. Yarborough


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Shortlisted, Semifinalist, 22nd Annual Robert F. Kennedy Book Award
Finalist, 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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780292722163
Publisher: University of Texas Press
Publication date: 02/01/2002
Series: Focus on American History
Pages: 372
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.83(d)

About the Author

Patrick L. Cox served as the Associate Director of the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History at the University of Texas at Austin and is now an independent scholar, contributing to National Public Radio and other media.

Table of Contents

  • Foreword by Senator Edward Kennedy
  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction
  • 1. It Was a Joyous Boyhood
  • 2. The Million-Dollar Victory
  • 3. A Man Who Had to Earn His Way
  • 4. The Hamburger Campaign
  • 5. We Saw the Worst
  • 6. The Strong Acid Test
  • 7. Coonskins and Coon Hunters
  • 8. Put the Jam on the Lower Shelf
  • 9. Problems with Johnson and Rayburn
  • 10. The Rancid Smell of Gunpowder
  • 11. The Struggle for the Soul of the Nation
  • 12. Acts of Congress and Acts of Madness
  • 13. Final Senate Years and Election Defeat
  • 14. The Last Hurrah
  • Afterword
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Index

What People are Saying About This

Senator Edward M. Kennedy

Ralph Yarborough was a loyal friend and a tower of integrity. He was a shining example to all of us who serve in public office. 'Discouraged' was not in his vocabulary. He taught us never to give up or give in and that, with a courageous attitude, victory was always possible next time or next year. In his biography of this greatly respected and much beloved giant of our time, Patrick Cox shows us why Ralph Yarborough truly was 'the People's Senator.'

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