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Peddy, George Edwin Bailey (1892–1951)

Richard T. Fleming Biography

George Peddy, attorney, politician, and soldier, the seventh son of William Henry and Laura Gertrude (Chambers) Peddy, was born on August 22, 1892, on a farm in East Texas near Tenaha, shortly before his father's death. While still a young man he helped support his mother, then attended the University of Texas and graduated from its law school in 1920. He was student body president in 1917 and led students protesting Governor James Edward Ferguson's political attacks on the university (he later supported Ferguson's attacks against the Ku Klux Klan). While still a student, he was elected to the Thirty-fifth Texas Legislature (1917) from Shelby County; he resigned, however, to accept a commission as captain in the army during World War I. After receiving his law degree Peddy formed a law partnership in Houston with two former classmates, David Andrew Simmons and Dan Jackson. He served two years as assistant district attorney of Harris County and later for two years as assistant United States attorney in charge of mail-fraud prosecutions. From 1925 to 1942 he practiced law as a partner with the Houston firm of Vinson, Elkins, Weems, and Francis.

After the nomination of Earle Bradford Mayfield for senator in the 1922 Democratic primary and after the state Democratic convention in San Antonio, where it appeared to many that the Ku Klux Klan had gained control of the party, a mass meeting of "Independent Democrats" on September 16, 1922, in Dallas selected Peddy to oppose Mayfield. Peddy had campaigned for James E. Ferguson as the anti-Klan candidate in the primaries. Mayfield and regular Democratic forces succeeded in keeping Peddy's name off the ballot; however, the Independent Democrats failed to have Mayfield removed from the ballot on the grounds that his endorsement by and presumed membership in the KKK disqualified him as a Democrat and precluded his honoring the senatorial oath. Republican endorsement of Peddy also failed to win him a place on the ballot. Depending entirely on write-in votes, Peddy ran a surprisingly strong race, polling one-third (130,744 to 264,260) of the vote. Peddy challenged Mayfield's election before the United States Senate, and the subsequent Senate investigation delayed Mayfield's seating until December 3, 1923. Peddy volunteered for military service during World War II. He became a lieutenant colonel and served as staff officer in the Fifth Infantry Division, Third Army, from the Normandy invasion to the end of the war. He was deputy military governor of Frankfurt in 1945. He was awarded the Bronze Star and Croix de Guerre. In 1948 he entered the contest for United States senator from Texas; he drew nearly 20 percent of the Democratic primary vote and forced his opponents, Lyndon B. Johnson and Coke Stevenson, into a runoff. He had waged his campaign on strong anti-Communist and pro-states'-rights planks. In 1921 Peddy married Gertrude Irwin; they raised two of her nephews as their foster children. Peddy was serving as chairman of the Texas Cancer Crusade when he died in Houston on June 13, 1951. He was buried in Ramah Cemetery in Tenaha.

Seth Shepard McKay, Texas Politics, 1906–1944 (Lubbock: Texas Tech Press, 1952). Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.

Categories:

  • Law, Law Enforcement, and Outlaws
  • Lawyers
  • General Law
  • Thirty-fifth Legislature (1917-1918)
  • House

Time Periods:

  • Texas in the 1920s

Places:

  • Houston

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

Richard T. Fleming, “Peddy, George Edwin Bailey,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed September 23, 2020, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/peddy-george-edwin-bailey.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

This entry belongs to the following Handbook Special Projects:

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