Sam Rayburn Biography
(43rd Speaker of the United States House of Representatives)
Birthday: January 6, 1882 (Capricorn)
Born In: Kingston, Tennessee, United States
Sam Rayburn was an American lawmaker who served as the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives for 17 years, the longest tenure in U.S. history. He was also the only Democrat to serve more than one non-consecutive term, and one of the only two individuals to serve three different terms as Speaker, the other one being Henry Clay. First elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from Texas's 4th district in 1912, he went on to serve continuously for almost five decades until his death in 1961—a record at the time of his death. Born into a large family in Tennessee, he grew up on a 40-acre farm in Texas where he actively engaged in farm work as a young boy. He developed an early interest in law and politics, and was just eight years old when he decided to pursue a career in these fields. A very hard working young man, he worked his way through college and became involved in politics while still a student. Eventually he qualified as a lawyer and intensified his participation in political activities. Over the years he became a prominent politician and was elected the Democratic leader of the House of Representatives in 1937 and was made the speaker of the House shortly after. A much respected politician, he was regarded as an extraordinarily able legislator.