James Paul Buchanan was born in Midway, Orangeburg County, South Carolina, on April 30, 1867. That year his parents moved to Washington County, Texas, where he attended school and grew to manhood. He completed his education in law at the University of Texas in 1889. After graduation, he returned to Washington County, began practicing law, and became involved in politics. He was elected justice of the peace in 1889 and served as the county prosecuting attorney from 1892 to 1899, when he became district attorney for the Twenty-first Judicial District. Buchanan was elected to the state legislature in 1906 and was reelected continuously to state office until 1913, when he won the seat in the United States House of Representatives vacated by Albert Sidney Burleson, who had accepted a cabinet position in the Wilson administration. Buchanan became chairman of the Committee on Appropriations and held that post until his death, on February 22, 1937. His seat was taken by Lyndon Baines Johnson. Buchanan Dam and Lake Buchanan, near Burnet, were named for him.