Hanna, Sam Chester (1893–1963)

By: Shain Thomas

Type: Biography

Published: September 5, 2017

Updated: April 27, 2021

Sam Chester Hanna, state legislator, was born in Vardaman, Mississippi, on January 14, 1893. He was the son of Tom and Lucille Hanna. Hanna attended high school in Mississippi, before moving with his father (his mother died when he was two years old) in 1910 to Memphis, Tennessee. He became a shoe and clothing salesman in Memphis, but after losing his job there, he moved to San Antonio, Texas. In January 1918 during World War I, he enlisted in the Army Aviation Corps and trained on the University of Texas campus. Hanna was discharged from military service in December 1918 as a second lieutenant in the U. S. Army Infantry Reserve. He continued to live in San Antonio, where he worked as shoe salesman, until 1928 when he moved to Dallas. Hanna married Pauline Jackson of New Orleans in 1920. The couple had no children.

In 1933 Hanna pursued his increasing interest in politics and successfully sought the position of assistant reading clerk in the House of Representatives for the Forty-third Texas Legislature. He took an unpaid leave of absence to run for District 50-3 seat representing Dallas County in the House in 1934. He lost that election in a runoff with Sarah T. Hughes and continued briefly as assistant reading clerk in 1935. However, when Hughes left the House for an appointment as judge of the Fourteenth Texas District Court in February 1935, Hanna ran for the vacated seat and won. He served fourteen years as a Democratic member of the Texas House of Representatives from 1935 to 1939 and 1941 to 1951.

Hanna served on numerous committees and remained a prominent member of the Constitutional Amendments Committee throughout his entire legislative career. He also chaired the Liquor Regulation Committee during the Forty-eighth, Forty-ninth, and Fifty-first legislatures. Highlighting the established norms of the period, Hanna spoke candidly in support of a “clarification of the election laws of the State so as to permit an unhampered White Democratic primary.” During his 1948 re-election campaign, Hanna reflected the prevailing political concerns of the time and assured his supporters he would “carry on his fight against socialism and communism, in whatever guise they assume.” His political career ended when he ran unsuccessfully for a seat in the Texas Senate in 1951.

On July 24, 1963, at the age of seventy, Hanna died in a downtown Austin hotel where he and his wife had lived for several years. He was buried at the Texas State Cemetery in Austin.

Carrollton Chronicle, July 7, 1944; July 2, 1948. Dallas Morning News, March 17, 1935; July 25, 1963. Legislative Reference Library of Texas: Sam C. Hanna (http://www.lrl.state.tx.us/legeLeaders/members/memberDisplay.cfm?memberID=1307&searchparams=chamber=~city=~countyID=0~RcountyID=~district=~first=~gender=~last=hanna~leaderNote=~leg=~party=~roleDesc=~Committee=), accessed September 1, 2017.

  • Forty-fourth Legislature (1935-1936)
  • Forty-fifth Legislature (1937)
  • Forty-seventh Legislature (1941)
  • House
  • Forty-ninth Legislature (1945)
  • Fiftieth Legislature (1947)
  • Forty-eighth Legislature (1943)
  • Fifty-first Legislature (1949-1950)
Time Periods:
  • Great Depression
  • World War II
  • Texas Post World War II
  • North Texas
  • Dallas/Fort Worth Region
  • Dallas

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

Shain Thomas, “Hanna, Sam Chester,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 29, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/hanna-sam-chester.

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September 5, 2017
April 27, 2021

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