The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 77, July 1973 - April, 1974 Page: 340
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
heritance assured him an education. After graduating in the first class of
the University of Texas Law School, he settled in Austin, where he joined
a firm of locally prominent attorneys, married, and acquired investments,
eventually including a large cotton plantation near Waco.'
Although Burleson was a successful lawyer, he soon became interested in
politics. The Democratic party of Travis County in the late nineteenth cen-
tury was in a process of transition and reorganization, thus providing oppor-
tunity for the ambitious ones who would attend caucuses and conventions
and minister faithfully to the dozens of petty organizational chores. While
serving as assistant city attorney of Austin and, after I891, as district attor-
ney, Burleson worked his way up in the local ranks to a position of some
power, acquiring at the same time considerable experience and developing
a value system that would guide him in the future.' Early in his career he
concluded that party organization was the key to political success; hence
party identification, discipline, and loyalty held precedence over other vir-
Burleson's entry into politics coincided with a rising tide of agrarian pro-
test in Texas and throughout much of the nation. The Populist agrarian
reformers, who by I892 were winning much of the traditional support of
the Democratic party, did not attract the young politician. His affluent back-
ground, cautious business attitudes, political associations, and, above all,
his belief in party solidarity precluded that. But he was sympathetic to some
of the demands of agrarian reformers. He was a staunch advocate of free
silver. When the Democratic party of Texas split in 1892 between con-
servative forces led by railroad attorney George Clark and Progressive fol-
lowers of Governor James Hogg, Burleson, in the words of a Clark man,
made himself "obnoxious" in his campaigning for Hogg and free silver.'
In 1896 he was an exuberant member of the Texas silver delegation to the
Democratic National Convention; he was still talking silver as late as I900oo.
His stand was not a matter of political expediency. Two of his closest friends
throughout his life were Thomas Watt Gregory, an Austin attorney, and
Colonel Edward M. House, a powerful figure in Texas politics around the
EUntitled typescript, November 3, 1898, Albert Sidney Burleson Papers (Library of
Congress, Washington, D.C.); Austin Statesman, June 15, 1884, December 24, 1889;
George E. Shelley, "Albert Sidney Burleson, U.S. Postmaster General," in J. M. Price
(ed.), Ten Men from Baylor (Kansas City, 1945), 49-50.
4Governor James Hogg selected Burleson to fill an interim appointment as district
attorney of the 26th Judicial District, thereby giving the young lawyer his first significant
opportunity in politics. George W. Smith to Burleson, April 28, I891, Burleson Papers
(Library of Congress); Austin Statesman, April 28, 1891.
'Austin Statesman, August 18, 19, October I2, 19, 1892.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 77, July 1973 - April, 1974, periodical, 1973/1974; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117148/m1/390/: accessed September 26, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.