The Quarterly of the Texas State Historical Association, Volume 9, July 1905 - April, 1906 Page: 49
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John H. Reagan.
sought to save, many of whom came, with bitterness, to see that he
It was while in prison, too, and ignorant of what fate awaited
him, that he wrote his justly memorable letter to President John-
son. It discussed the case of Jefferson Davis, whom the govern-
ment was preparing to arraign on the charge of treason. For legal
acumen and argument, possibly this letter remains Judge Reagan's
masterpiece. Certainly it was, and is, unanswerable.
At length came his release from Fort Warren. Defeated and
disfranchised, the man rose superior to all obstacles. He retired to
his farm at Fort Houston and laid his hand to the plow, looking
not backward. When his disabilities had been removed by Con-
gress he resumed the practice of law, and in 1875 was returned to
Congress, his service being continuous up to his election to the
Senate in 1887. During this period his most distinguished labor
was on the Committee on Commerce. For eight years he served
as chairman, securing the passage of the present interstate com-
merce law in the face of bitter opposition.
Not less important, if less conspicuous, was the r81e he played
on many occasions-the r1le of impugner. If ever there was in
Congress a man who could scent corrupt legislation from afar, it
was John H. Reagan. One instance will suffice. In its original
form he opposed with all his might the famous Union Pacific
Railway "enterprise," fearlessly pointing out the hiding places of
corruption. And there were hiding places we have since discov-
ered; and there were money-changers in the lobbies of the Capitol.
He was himself, on one occasion, approached by the tempter; but
in his public life of over fifty years there has yet to appear the
charge that his fingers were soiled by a dishonest dollar. So honor-
able was his career that the State chose to honor him by elevating
him to the post of Senator; and here again, we find that his every
thought was how best to serve his people.
If he had not on other occasions shown that no sacrifice was
too great for him to make, his resignation from the Senate to ac-
cept the appointment of railroad commissioner of his State would
abundantly prove it. Not alone was the post of chairman of the
commission less remunerative than that of senator, but to withdraw
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Texas State Historical Association. The Quarterly of the Texas State Historical Association, Volume 9, July 1905 - April, 1906, periodical, 1906; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101036/m1/53/: accessed January 24, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.