Jed Cobb Adams, lawyer and politician, the son of Z. T. and Elizabeth (Ratliff) Adams, was born on January 14, 1876, in Kaufman, Texas. He attended Southwestern University in Georgetown from 1889 to 1891 and Bingham School in Asheville, North Carolina, in 1892–93. He was admitted to the State Bar of Texas in 1895. On December 1, 1897, he married Allie Nash, also from Kaufman. The couple had two children.
Although Adams was active politically throughout his life, he held comparatively few public offices. From 1898 to 1902 he was state's attorney in Kaufman County. He was a major in the judge advocate general's department of the United States Army in Governors Island, New York, from October 1918 to April 1919. Afterward he received a commission as a lieutenant colonel in the reserve corps. From October 1919 until his resignation in January 1920, he was United States attorney for the Northern District of Texas. He was a member of the United States Board of Tax Appeals from May 1933 until his death.
For most of his adult life Adams maintained a successful private law practice, first at Kaufman and then in Dallas, to where he moved in 1909. He was a lifelong Democrat and was active in the party at the state and national level. He was a delegate to the 1904 Democratic national convention, a member of the Democratic state executive committee in 1906, and a Democratic presidential elector in 1908. From 1924 to 1934 he was a member of the national Democratic executive committee. Although he had long opposed James and Miriam Ferguson, Adams supported Miriam for governor in 1924 because her principal opponent was backed by the Ku Klux Klan; Adams spoke at several of Ma Ferguson's anti-Klan rallies during the campaign. In 1928 he gained nationwide attention for his opposition to the Texas Democrats who supported Herbert Hoover for president. Claiming that continued national Republican rule would endanger the South's Jim Crow laws and lead to integrated public schools, Adams called for the ouster of any Texas Democratic party leader who refused to support Al Smith.
Adams was a member of the Texas Bar Association, the American Bar Association, the American Legion, and the Methodist Church. In 1931 he received an honorary LL.D. degree from the Jefferson School of Law. After a brief illness he died in Washington, D.C., on January 29, 1935. He was buried in Kaufman, Texas.
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Norman D. Brown, Hood, Bonnet, and Little Brown Jug: Texas Politics, 1921–1928 (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1984). Dallas Morning News, January 31, 1935.
Law, Law Enforcement, and Outlaws
Dallas/Fort Worth Region
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
Cecil Harper, Jr.,
“Adams, Jed Cobb,”
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed May 20, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Original Publication Date:
Most Recent Revision Date:
June 16, 2020
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