The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 106, July 2002 - April, 2003 Page: 400
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
Governor Campbell, who had derisively labeled print critics of his
administration's penal policies as "yaller journalists," actually gave Briggs
one of the pens he used to sign the new measure into law. Colquitt
offered to appoint Briggs to the reorganized Board of Prison
Commissioners, but the reporter declined. Briggs and Finty, however,
helped establish an atmosphere that kept penal issues alive during the
administration of Oscar Branch Colquitt.
The son of a former Georgia slave owner, Colquitt had moved with his
family in 1878 to Daingerfield, Texas, when he was seventeen years old.
Although financial difficulties had forced the family to relocate and pre-
vented him from receiving more than a modest level of formal educa-
tion, the Colquitt name remained prominent in Georgia politics; his
cousins included a governor and two United States senators from the
state. After working as a tenant farmer, Colquitt apprenticed for East
Texas newspapers and eventually acquired ownership of publications in
Pittsburgh and Terrell. Under the tutelage of Gov. James Stephen Hogg
(1891-1895) he embarked upon a political career during the 189os. In
1894 Colquitt won election to the Texas Senate, defeating the future
governor of Oklahoma, W. H. "Alfalfa Bill" Murray, who then resided in
Texas. Colquitt received his law license in 1900 and served as a member
of the Texas Railroad Commission from 1903 to 1911. Defeated by
Campbell during the 19o6 gubernatorial primary election, he spent the
next four years criticizing the victor's progressive business regulation
policies. According to his biographer, Colquitt's opposition to Campbell
"forced [him] to assume a more conservative position than his true
opinions would have warranted." Colquitt outpolled three other candi-
dates to win the Democratic primary in 1910, urging relief from what he
regarded as "restrictive and harsh legislation" enacted during
Campbell's terms. His stance against statewide prohibition was probably
7 For a denunciation of "yellow journalists," see Thomas M. Campbell to A R. McCallom,
August igxo, box 2B175, Thomas M. Campbell Papers (CAH), hereafter referred to as
Campbell Papers. "Colquitt, Ramsey and the Bat," a letter from J. J. Strozler to the editor of the
Houston Chronzcle, undated letter in box 2E2o8, Colquitt Papers. See various news articles by
George Waverly Briggs in Texas Penitentiary, From the San Antonio Express (San Antonio: San
Antonio Express, i go1909) and by Tom FintyJr. in Our Penal System and Its Purposes Reprnt of a Series of
Articles Which were Published in The Galveston and The Dallas (Tex.) News During the Summer of z9og
(Dallas: The Dallas News, 19o09). Also see clippings from Finty's articles in The Survey, 23 (Dec. 18,
1909) and in Tom FintyJr. scrapbook, CAH. Finty, a native of Illinois, died in Dallas at the age
of sixty-one in 1930o. One of his pallbearers was Briggs; following their years m journalism, both
enjoyed successful business careers in Dallas. Briggs died m 1957. See George Waverly Bnggs
vertical file, CAH. See San Antonio Express, Sept. 3, 18, 1910o, for mention of the Texas
Legislature's recognition of Briggs; also see Dallas News, July 17, 1957. The Rev. Jake Hodges, a
discharged chaplain employed at the Huntsville Penitentiary, informed Briggs of conditions in
Texas prison sites and inspired the latter's articles. Hodges, who claims to have been a long-
standing friend of Ramsey, gave his support to Colquitt in 1912; see Hodges' speech in
Broadside: Bulletin: Colquitt Headquarters, Austin, Texas, June 13, 1912, Colquitt Papers.
Hodges also appears to have supported Colquitt in 1910o. See Colquitt to Hodges, box 2E104,
Colquitt Papers; and Dallas News, July 15, 1957.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 106, July 2002 - April, 2003, periodical, 2003; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101223/m1/468/: accessed May 25, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.