Eagle, Joe Henry (1870–1963)

By: Alwyn Barr

Type: Biography

Published: 1976

Updated: January 31, 2017

Joe Henry Eagle, congressman, was born in Tompkinsville, Kentucky, on January 23, 1870. After graduation from Burritt College at Spencer, Tennessee, in 1887 he moved to Texas, where he taught school at Vernon from 1887 to 1893, acting as superintendent of schools, 1889–91. After studying law at night and in his spare time, he was admitted to the bar in 1893 and was elected city attorney of Wichita Falls for 1894–95. Eagle moved to Houston in 1895 and ran unsuccessfully for Congress as a Populist in 1896. Later he served six terms in Congress as a Democrat, under Woodrow Wilson from 1913 to 1921 and under Franklin D. Roosevelt from 1933 to 1937. While in the House, he was a strong advocate of credit for farmers and of the resulting Federal Farm Loan Act of 1916. He also secured the establishment of Ellington Air Force Base in 1917 and an appropriation of $4,000,000 to deepen and widen the Houston Ship Channel in 1919. In the 1930s, as earlier, he advocated social security benefits and promoted the construction of several Work Projects Administration buildings in his district. In 1936 he ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic nomination for United States senator, then retired from Congress for a second time to practice law in Houston until 1957. He married Mary Hamman, daughter of William H. Hamman, and they had a son and a daughter. Eagle died on January 10, 1963.

Biographical Directory of the American Congress, 1744–1961 (1961). Galveston Daily News, August 9, 1896. Houston Metropolitan Research Center Files, Houston Public Library. Houston Post, January 11, 1963. Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin. Who's Who in America, 1934–35.

Time Periods:

  • Late Nineteenth-Century Texas
  • Progressive Era
  • Texas in the 1920s
  • Great Depression
  • Texas Post World War II


  • Houston
  • Upper Gulf Coast
  • East Texas

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

Alwyn Barr, “Eagle, Joe Henry,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed September 27, 2021, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/eagle-joe-henry.

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January 31, 2017

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