Difference between revisions of "Pa Ferguson"

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Latest revision as of 20:33, 23 May 2020

James Edward Ferguson Jr., known popularly as Pa Ferguson, was a two-time Governor of Texas, serving from 1915-1917.

During his second term in office he was impeached and removed from office, due to corruption involving a personal feud between himself and the University of Texas. To date he is the only Texas Governor to be successfully impeached and removed. Nonetheless he attempted to run again, but was defeated in the primary by his Lieutenant Governor, William P. Hobby (who served the remainder of Ferguson's term).

Ferguson ran for United States President in 1920 under the American Party; he was only on the ballot in Texas. Not only was he soundly defeated by Warren Harding (who won the election) and James E. Cox (the Democratic candidate who easily won Texas' electoral votes), he was surpassed by three other minor candidates (including Socialist candidate Eugene Debs). He also attempted to run for United States Senator in 1922 but lost in a primary runoff.

Undeterred, he entered his wife, Miriam "Ma" Ferguson as candidate for Governor in 1924; she openly admitted he would provide "advice" and most of her campaign stops had her speaking briefly then turning the platform over to her husband. Notwithstanding that the incumbent Governor Hobby openly campaigned for the Republican candidate, Ma Ferguson won the election, making her the first female Governor of Texas and only the second in the United States.

She lost in 1926 to the state Attorney General (who investigated Pa Ferguson for embezzlement and recovered over $1 million for Texas taxpayers), but won again in 1932.

During her two terms in office Ma (likely at Pa's direction) issued over 4,000 pardons, primarily to people violating Prohibition laws; it was rumored but unproven that the pardons were in exchange for bribes. As a result, Texas changed its state Constitution to remove this power from the Governor and give it to the Texas Board of Pardon and Parole.[1]


  1. Under the law, the Board must issue a positive recommendation before a pardon or commutation can be granted (but the Governor can still deny such); the Governor can only unilaterally issue a one-time, 30-day reprieve (which is rarely given). This causes confusion among liberal death penalty opponents, who routinely petition the Governor for a pardon that he cannot grant (as only twice has the Board recommended commutation of a death sentence and the Governor concurred).