b. 1871 – Bell County, Texas
Ferguson was raised on a farm in Salado and attended Salado College, a college preparatory school. After being expelled for disobedience he left home at 16 and traveled the western United States taking odd jobs. He returned to Bell County to farm, practiced law in Belton, and had business interests in real estate, insurance, and banking, before moving to Temple, where he helped establish the Temple State Bank.
A masterful speaker, Ferguson was elected governor, despite being an anti-prohibitionist candidate. He supported state aid to rural schools, compulsory school attendance, and authorized the Austin State School. After landholdings for the prison system were increased, the system became self-sustaining and profitable through farming.
The State Highway Department was created during Ferguson’s second term. After he vetoed almost all of the University of Texas’ appropriations when the board of regents refused to remove faculty whom he found objectionable he was charged with misapplication of public funds, embezzlement, and diversion of a special fund.
The Senate convicted him on ten counts and the court, by a vote of 25 to three, and removed him from office and made him ineligible to hold any office. He resigned before the judgment took effect and ran for governor in 1918, but was defeated by Governor Hobby, who had been appointed in his place.