Rayburn, Sam (Samuel Taliaferro Rayburn), 1882–1961, U.S. legislator, b. Roane co., Tenn. After his family moved (1887) to Fannin co., Tex., he worked at cotton picking. He worked his way through school, studied law at the Univ. of Texas, and practiced in Bonham, Tex. He was (1907–12) a member of the Texas legislature and in 1913 entered the U.S. Congress. A middle-of-the-road Democrat, Rayburn soon became prominent in national politics. In the 1930s he was the man most directly responsible for the passage of New Deal legislation in the House. Rayburn held the office of speaker (1940–47; 1949–53; 1955–61) more than twice as long as any of his predecessors; his great political skill and his intimate knowledge of the House rules contributed to his unique prestige as a parliamentary leader.
See biographies by A. Champagne (1984), D. B. Hardemane and D. C. Bacon (1987); study by B. Mooney (1971).