Time Capsule: Former Prohibitionist Andrew J. Houston, Member of U.S. Senate

Longtime Prohibitionist Andrew Jackson Houston, son of the legendary Sam Houston, the hero of San Jacinto and first president of the Lone Star Republic, died in a Baltimore hospital on this day in 1941.

Two months before his death, the 87-year-old Houston had been appointed to the U.S. Senate by Gov. “Pappy” O’Daniel to fill a vacancy created by the death of Democratic Sen. Morris Sheppard, who died of a brain hemorrhage on April 9.

The aging scion of the state’s most popular hero was notified of his appointment only hours before Gov. O’Daniel stunned the Texas political establishment by announcing his selection during an anniversary celebration at the San Jacinto monument where Gen. Sam Houston had decisively routed Santa Anna’s forces 105 years earlier, winning Texas its freedom from Mexico.

Houston, who was only nine years old when his famous father died, was a surprise appointment, not only because of his advanced age but also because his name had never been mentioned as a Senate possibility.

The second oldest person to become a U.S. Senator — Rebecca Latimer Felton of Georgia, who symbolically served for a day in 1922, had him beat by nearly a year — Houston was a graduate of West Point and had organized a troop of cavalry for Teddy Roosevelt’s Rough Riders during the Spanish-American War. Roosevelt later appointed him as a U.S. marshal for the eastern district of Texas, a position he held from 1902 to 1910.

Houston, who authored several books on Texas history and taught military science at St. Mary’s University on Trinity Bay, had been the Prohibition Party’s candidate for governor of Texas on two occasions and had briefly challenged immensely popular 1908 nominee Eugene W. Chafin for the dry party’s presidential nomination in 1912 — the same year Roosevelt himself had snorted and thundered against the two-party establishment on his newly-formed Bull Moose ticket.

Houston was a Democrat at the time of his surprise Senate appointment on April 21, 1941.

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