Charles Allen Culberson





Handbook of Texas Online - CULBERSON, CHARLES A.



CULBERSON, Charles Allen, nineteenth governor of Texas (1895-99), was born at Dadeville, Tallapoosa co., Ala., Oct. 10. 1855 son of David B. and (Kimbal) Culberson. His parents removed from Alabama to Gilmer. Tex., in 1858, and from there to their present home in Jefferson three years later. For many years the father has been a prominent figure in the public life of Texas, having been an adjutant general in the Confederate army, a member of the state legislature ( 1859-64) and of the senate (1874), and a member of congress for the fourth Texas district from the forty-fourth to the forty-ninth session. While in congress, he was for years chairman of the judiciary committee, and was tendered an appointment on the interstate commerce commission by Pres. Harrison. The son attended the common school of Jefferson and Prof. Morgan H. Looney's high school at Gilmer, and entered the Virginia Military Institute, Lexington, Va., in 1870. Being graduated in 1874, he spent the next two years studying law in his father's office, and then entered the law department of the University of Virginia. During his course, he was distinguished for scholarship and close application to study, being chosen judge of the moot court and final orator of the Jefferson Literary Society, both exceptional honors. In 1878 he was admitted to the bar of Texas, and at once took a high place as an attorney and practitioner. In 1882 he obtained particular reputation in the defense of John Le Grand, convicted of murder by the federal district court at Jefferson under the Ku-Klux law. Mr. Culberson appealed to the circuit court, and by his scholarship and able pleading secured from Justice Woods a reversal of the former verdict, with a declaration of the unconstitutionality of the Ku-Klux law. This decision being sustained by the U. S. courts elsewhere, served to increase the reputation of the young attorney and place him in the front rank of his profession. His ability soon forced him into the political arena, and in 1880, when but twenty-five years of age, he was elected county attorney of Marion county. He resigned after a short incumbency of this office, and in 1882 was offered a nomination for the legislature, which he declined. His practice continued to increase rapidly, and in 1888, in search of a wider field, he removed to Dallas, where he formed the well-known firm of Bookhout & Culberson. At the Democratic state convention at San Antonio, in 1890, he was nominated for attorney-general by acclamation, and being elected by a large majority, served until his nomination as governor, in 1894, by the state convention at Dallas. Being triumphantly elected, he was nominated for a second term at Fort Worth in 1896, and was again elected by a majority of 00,000, in the face of a powerful fusion ticket growing out of the financial issue of that year. Gov. Culberson was a delegate to the national Democratic convention at Chicago, in June, 1896, and during the campaign gained a national reputation by his correspondence with Prince Bismarck on the subject of bimetallism. Gov. Culberson's administrations have been characterized, not alone by force and prompt attention to all public issues, but by an integrity and moral purpose seldom equaled. In his first inaugural message, he urged the legislature to redeem all the pledges of the Democratic platform, and called especial attention to the condition of the public schools, recommending an increase of the school tax to 20 cents on every $100. Among other evidences of his vigorous action in matters of moral concern was his prohibition of the Corbett -Fitzsimmons fight in Texas during 1895. He was re-elected, in 1896, for a term of two years (1897-99). Gov. Culberson was married to a daughter of Col. W. W. Harrison, of Fort Worth, Tex.