Martin Dies, congressman, son of David Warren and Sarah Jane (Pyburn) Dies, was born in Jackson Parish, Louisiana, on March 13, 1870. The family moved to Freestone County, Texas, in 1876. Dies attended public school in Texas, and some sources indicate that he graduated from law school at the University of Texas, although others claim that at the time in question he was working at various occupations in East Texas, including blacksmithing, railroading, teaching, and sawmilling. He was admitted to the of Texas bar about 1892 and practiced law at Woodville, Beaumont, Colorado City, and Kountze. He edited a newspaper in Freestone County and served as county marshall. He was elected county judge of Tyler County in 1894. Dies used his legal offices to secure land titles in the East Texas timber region until he moved south to Beaumont in 1897. During the Spanish-American War he joined the Beaumont Light Guards, which became Company D, Third Regiment, of the Texas Volunteers. After his return he was elected district attorney of the First Judicial District in 1898. Dies suffered a financial setback when he could not repay a debt to his friend John Henry Kirby. As a result he moved his family to the West Texas town of Colorado City in 1899. In 1908 he defeated the incumbent, Samuel Bronson Cooper, in his campaign for Congress. He represented the Second Texas Congressional District in the Sixty-first through Sixty-fifth United States Congresses (1909–19). During his tenure he opposed large military expenditures, American "imperialism," and high tariffs and supported an income tax. He was an outspoken nativist. Dies was opposed to woman suffrage and in 1916 opposed Woodrow Wilson's preparedness program. He chose not to run for reelection in 1918. He married Mrs. Olive Cline Blackshear on May 15, 1892, and they had two daughters and one son, Martin Dies. The marriage ended in divorce. Dies was a Democrat and a Methodist. He died in Kerrville on July 13, 1922, and is buried in Glenwood Cemetery, Houston.
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Biographical Directory of the American Congress. Dennis Kay McDaniel, Martin Dies of Un-American Activities: His Life and Times (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Houston, 1988). Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin. Who Was Who in America, vol. 1.
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
Dennis K. McDaniel,
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed July 01, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Original Publication Date:
Most Recent Revision Date:
September 9, 2020