Hudspeth, Claude Benton (1877–1941)

By: Martin Donell Kohout

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: February 1, 1995

Claude Benton Hudspeth, congressman, newspaper publisher, and rancher, was born in Medina, Texas, on May 12, 1877, the fourth son of H. S. and Elizabeth Anna Hudspeth. His father had been a captain in the Confederate Army in command of a company in Hood's Texas Brigade. After the Civil War the elder Hudspeth became sheriff of Bandera County and a deputy United States marshal. Claude Hudspeth later claimed that his entire education consisted of three months in the family's log cabin on the banks of the Medina River, during which time he taught himself to read and write. By the age of fifteen he had left home and worked for various local ranchers, including John R. Blocker. At sixteen he moved to Ozona and became editor and publisher of the town's first newspaper, the Ozona Kicker, in partnership with his brother Roy.

Hudspeth had moved on to El Paso by the time he married Marie Cliborne in Sherwood on January 3, 1902; they had one son and one daughter. Hudspeth was elected to the state House of Representatives in 1902 and to the state Senate in 1906; he served in the latter body until 1918. In 1909 he was admitted to the bar and joined the El Paso firm of Nealon, Hudspeth, and McGill. In 1918 he was elected to the United States House of Representatives and became one of the most vocal supporters of American intervention in the ongoing political struggles across the Rio Grande in Mexico. On June 19, 1919, Hudspeth rose to defend Secretary of War Newton Baker's controversial decision to send troops into Juárez, Mexico, against Francisco (Pancho) Villa, referring to Mexican president Venustiano Carranza as "that spineless cactus of Mexico." In January 1924 Hudspeth protested a decree from the Mexican Secretariat of Agriculture that threatened the confiscation of agrarian property. The government of Álvaro Obregón cancelled the decree after an inquiry from Secretary of State Charles Evans Hughes.

In late 1926 Hudspeth decided to drive 1,400 cattle from his ranch in Crockett County to his ranch in Brewster County rather than pay to ship them by rail; he published an account of his three weeks on the trail in Cattleman magazine. Four years later he declined to run for renomination because of ill health. He became a director of an oil company and moved in 1940 to San Antonio, where he died on March 19, 1941.

Cattleman, March 1927, April 1941. Who Was Who in America (Chicago: Marquis, 1942-), Vol. 2.
  • Journalism
  • Newspapers
  • Editors and Reporters
  • Publishers and Executives

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

Martin Donell Kohout, “Hudspeth, Claude Benton,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed June 25, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

February 1, 1995