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Ma Ferguson dies

June
25
1961

On this day in 1961, Ma Ferguson, the first woman governor of Texas, died of heart failure. Miriam Amanda Ferguson was born in Bell County in 1875. She married James Edward Ferguson in 1899 and served as first lady of Texas while he was governor from 1915 to 1917. After his impeachment, Miriam entered the race for the Texas governorship. She won an August run-off and the November general election, thus becoming the second woman governor in United States history. Political strife and controversy characterized her first administration. Mrs. Ferguson pardoned an average of 100 convicts a month, and she and "Pa" were accused of accepting bribes. Controversy helped Dan Moody defeat her in 1926. Ma ran again unsuccessfully in 1930, and in 1932 she narrowly won the Democratic nomination, then defeated the Republican nominee. Her second term as governor was much less controversial than her first; nonetheless, the Fergusons temporarily retired from politics in 1934. Ma Ferguson did declare for governor once again in 1940, alleging that she could not resist a "popular draft" for the nomination, but failed to unseat incumbent W. Lee O'Daniel. After her husband's death in 1944, Miriam Ferguson retired to private life in Austin.

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