The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 77, July 1973 - April, 1974 Page: 354
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
followed by the unmistakable repudiation of his party in the general elec-
tion. By 1921 Burleson was ready to retire.
In retirement Burleson lived quietly in Austin, observing politics closely
but seldom assuming an active role. In 1928 he broke his silence in support
of the presidential ambitions of Alfred Smith, the antiprohibition Catholic
governor of New York, denouncing the critics of Smith in terms of "bigotry,
intolerance, and fanaticism.""54 In 1932 and the years which followed he
supported Franklin Delano Roosevelt, although he found little in the New
Deal to his liking. At dawn, on the morning of November 24, 1937, victim
of a heart attack at the age of seventy-four, he died. The traditional eulogy
in the House of Representatives were delivered a few days later by a rising
young Texas politician, Lyndon Baines Johnson.55
The eight years between 1913 and 1921, in which Woodrow Wilson and
Albert Sidney Burleson shared a relationship, yield at least two inferences.
In the first place, although his own prowess as a politician varied from
one extreme to another, Wilson had more of a pragmatic appreciation for the
value of a professional politician than is generally realized. In view of Bur-
leson's habitual blunt, outspoken pronouncements of his position, Wilson
surely knew that the Texan often supported his policies out of loyalty, not
conviction. Yet the two had only one serious difference, and this over poli-
tics, not principle. Burleson's effort in 1920 to straddle the fence and sup-
port both Wilson and McAdoo for the Democratic nomination provoked
the president's wrath, Burleson narrowly escaping summary dismissal.
An understanding of Burleson's role in the Wilson administration under-
scores another perspective on the Progressive era. The Texan, undoubtedly
conservative in many respects, cannot be placed with precision either in or
out of the Progressive tradition. In his case, actually, the distinction is vir-
tually meaningless. Though he had strong convictions on most questions, the
demands of power politics, not reform, were the primary guide for his ac-
tivities. Nevertheless, working within the framework of a Progressive admin-
istration, he did contribute to the accomplishment of reform. Others, no
doubt, were of Burleson's breed. Perhaps studies of progressivism, already
frustrating in their breadth and complexity, should place more emphasis on
the organizational values of politics.
"5New York Times, February 22, September 25 (quotation), 1928; unidentified clip-
ping, July 18, 1928, Burleson Papers (Archives, University of Texas, Austin).
55Congressional Record, 75th Cong., 2nd sess., LXXXII, Pt. 1, pp. 353-354.
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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/m1/404/: accessed January 18, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.