Callaway, Francis Oscar (1872–1947)

By: Thomas Lloyd Miller

Type: Biography

Published: 1976

Updated: December 1, 1994

Francis Oscar Callaway, congressman, was born in Harmony Hill, Texas, on October 2, 1872, the son of Christopher Columbus (Bud) and Louise Caroline (Atwood) Callaway. Four years later the family moved to Mercers Gap, in Comanche County. Callaway graduated from Comanche High School in 1894, taught school for three years, and entered the University of Texas law school; he received a degree in 1900 and began the practice of law. He was prosecuting attorney of Comanche County from 1900 to 1902.

He was elected to the United States Congress from the Twelfth District of Texas in 1910, 1912, and 1914. Throughout his legislative career Callaway sharply questioned every federal expenditure. In 1912–13 he served on the Committee on Expenditures in the Treasury Department, and in 1914–15 he was on the Committee on Expenditures in the Department of the Interior. Until late 1915, when he was moved up to the Naval Affairs Committee, he had not attracted a great deal of attention except for his vigorous opposition to huge river and harbor appropriations. It was hard for him to see merit in making the Trinity and Brazos rivers navigable. Of these two rivers he once remarked that he had often waded across them, sometimes had spat across them, but never had to swim them. He gained national attention in 1916 by his opposition to the naval appropriation bill. He thought the huge preparedness campaign unnecessary and believed that it favored munition makers and others who would derive excessive profit from it. He also believed that an army of civilians could repel any invasion. So strong were his words against some congressmen that parts of his speech were expunged from the Congressional Record. He believed that submarines had made battleships obsolete and that international law would have to be rewritten to cover the situation.

He was defeated for renomination in 1916 by United States attorney James C. Wilson, largely on the issue of preparedness. At the time of his defeat his hometown newspaper, the Comanche Chief, editorialized, "One thing marks this man above his fellows and that is his absolute lack of fear of criticism. He has his convictions and lives up to them." In 1917 Callaway returned to Comanche, where he practiced law and engaged in farming and stock raising until his death on January 31, 1947. He was buried in Oakwood Cemetery, Comanche. He was survived by his widow, the former Stella Couch, whom he had married on December 29, 1904. They had no children.

Biographical Directory of the American Congress. Thomas L. Miller, "Oscar Callaway and Preparedness," West Texas Historical Association Year Book 43 (1967). Who's Who in America, 1930–31.

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Thomas Lloyd Miller, “Callaway, Francis Oscar,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed August 18, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

December 1, 1994