Lanham, Frederick Garland (1880–1965)

By: Lawrence A. Landis

Type: Biography

Published: 1976

Updated: June 17, 2020

Frederick Garland (Fritz) Lanham, lawyer and United States representative, son of Sarah Beona (Meng) and Samuel Willis Tucker Lanham, was born on January 3, 1880, in Weatherford, Texas. His father served as a congressman and as governor of Texas. Lanham, one of eight children, was given the name Fritz by a neighbor. He was educated in the Washington, D.C., public schools. He graduated from Weatherford College with a B.A. degree in 1897, attended Vanderbilt University in 1897–98, and in the fall of 1898 went to the University of Texas, from which he received a B.A. in 1900. He stayed at the University of Texas to pursue graduate studies. He became the first editor of the student newspaper, the Texan, in the fall of 1900 and held the job until January 1901.

In December 1901 Lanham became secretary to his father, who was then serving in the United States House of Representatives. After working for a Weatherford bank in 1902 he resumed work for his father, who had been elected governor. Lanham began studying law at the University of Texas in the fall of 1903. He subsequently worked at the Deaf and Dumb Institute in Austin and at the Dallas Morning News. Although he never completed law school, he was admitted to the state bar in 1909 and established a law practice in Weatherford with Benjamin G. O'Neal. After unsuccessfully running for Parker county attorney in 1916, Lanham moved to Fort Worth to work as an assistant county attorney for Tarrant County.

On April 19, 1919, Lanham, a Democrat, was elected from the Twelfth Congressional District to succeed James C. Wilson, who had been appointed to a federal judgeship. Lanham represented the district until January 3, 1947. His notable legislative achievements included the National Housing for Defense Act, passed in October 1940, and the Lanham Community Facilities Act, passed in June 1941. Among his committee memberships were the District of Columbia Committee, the Committee on Patents, the Public Lands Committee, and the Committee on Public Buildings and Grounds. He became chairman of Public Buildings and Grounds in 1932. Lanham also served on several building and memorial commissions. He promoted agriculture and ranching in the Southwest, supported the claims of disabled World War I veterans, and opposed most tariff legislation. Perhaps one of his most significant achievements as a congressman was his support and introduction of federal legislation to govern federal trademark registration, trademark infringement, trademark dilution, false advertising, and related issues—legislation that ultimately was passed as the Lanham Act on July 5, 1946. After his retirement from Congress he remained in Washington to work as a lobbyist for the National Patent Council, the American Fair Trade Council, and the Trinity Improvement Association of Texas. In November 1946 he was named vice president of the Trinity Association.

He was an amateur magician, wrote two musical comedies with his brother Frank, and toured with a stage company during part of 1907. In 1913 he became the first editor of Alcalde, a position he held for 4½ years. During World War I he spoke on behalf of Liberty Loan bond drives, solicited subscriptions for the Red Cross, and entertained troops in camps around Fort Worth. He was a Methodist, a Mason, and an Odd Fellow, and was an honorary member of Phi Beta Kappa at the University of Texas. In 1937 the Texas congressional delegation recommended Lanham for the position of president of the University of Texas. He married Beulah Rowe of Austin on October 27, 1908. After her death in 1930 he married Hazel Head, on November 17, 1931. He left Washington in 1963 and moved to Austin. He died there on July 31, 1965, after a heart attack, and was buried in the City Greenwood Cemetery, Weatherford.

Escal F. Duke, The Life and Political Career of Fritz G. Lanham (M.A. thesis, University of Texas, 1941). Fort Worth Star-Telegram, August 2, 1965. Gustavus Adolphus Holland, History of Parker County and the Double Log Cabin (Weatherford, Texas: Herald, 1931; rpt. 1937). Fritz G. Lanham Papers, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.

  • Law, Law Enforcement, and Outlaws
  • Lawyers
  • General Law
Time Periods:
  • Great Depression
  • Dallas/Fort Worth Region
  • Fort Worth
  • Austin
  • Central Texas
  • North Texas

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

Lawrence A. Landis, “Lanham, Frederick Garland,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 19, 2022,

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June 17, 2020

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