Z. ,. Aueat, rexas Populist
OR Thomas Lewis Nugent, twice Populist candidate for
governor of Texas, Populism gave no promise of utopia to
be achieved through political panaceas. He had strong faith
in the improvability of man, that faith being central in his re-
ligious beliefs. But political reforms, such as those called for by
the People's party platform, he evaluated as rather superficial.
What he desired to alter were fundamentals: the values by which
men lived and the attitudes which controlled them. His purpose
was to socialize Christianity, to make social Christians of men,
and to utilize the People's party to those ends. He may be said
to have represented a political expression of the social gospel
On July 16, 1841, Thomas Lewis Nugent was born at Opelousas,
Louisiana, to Thomas Nugent, an Irish immigrant, and Anne
Lavinia Lewis Nugent, daughter of a Louisiana judge of some
achievement. Young Nugent migrated to Texas in 1862 and
served in the Confederate Army in Texas during the Civil War.
A graduate of Centenary College in Louisiana, he taught school
in Austin and other places, was admitted to the bar, and finally
located at Stephenville, in Erath County, in 1873.1 After serving
as a member of the Texas Constitutional Convention of 1875,
Nugent was appointed district judge for what became the twenty-
ninth judicial district of Texas. Twice re-elected to this post, he
resigned in 1888 because of ill health. After spending some time
'Mrs. Catherine Nugent, Life Work of Thomas L. Nugent (Stephenville, 1896),
12-15; Roscoe Martin, The People's Party in Texas (University of Texas Bulletin No.
3308, Austin, 1933), 115; Dallas Morning News, June 25, 1892; Laura R. King to
W. A., September 5, 1950 (MS. in writer's possession).
Mrs. Nugent's book is not a biography but a collection of materials by Nugent
or about him. It contains a brief biographical sketch, unsigned but attributed to
Miss Allie King. Martin's biographical account is based almost entirely on this
book. Miss Laura King, who has been helpful to the writer in locating friends
and descendents of Nugent, is a sister of Allie King, both being daughters of
Thomas B. King of Stephenville. King was a Populist, an intimate of Nugent, and a
contributor to Mrs. Nugent's memorial volume. The King children played with the
Nugent children and were often present in the King home when their father,
Judge Nugent, and others spent Sunday afternoons in discussion of public affairs
and of religion.
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 57, July 1953 - April, 1954. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101152/. Accessed December 7, 2013.