Sanders, Morgan Gurley (1878–1956)

By: Diana J. Kleiner

Type: Biography

Published: 1976

Updated: June 1, 1995

Morgan Sanders, lawyer, legislator, and judge, the son of Levi Lindsey and Sarah Frances (Smith) Sanders, was born on July 14, 1878, on a farm near Ben Wheeler in Van Zandt County. His father was a Confederate soldier. Sanders attended public school, graduated in 1895, and taught for two years while studying law. In March 1898 he purchased the Free State Enterprise, a Canton weekly newspaper, for which he served as editor until 1901, when he was made assistant journal clerk of the Texas Senate. In Austin he studied law at the University of Texas, was admitted to the bar in 1901, and in that year opened an office with Ben L. Cox. Sanders was elected to the state legislature for two terms beginning in 1902. In 1906 he returned to private practice in a partnership with Alex Collins. The arrangement dissolved in 1908, when Sanders established an association with state senator W. J. Greer. Sanders was elected Van Zandt county attorney in 1910 and served two terms. He was subsequently elected district attorney from the Seventh Judicial District. Afterward he formed a partnership, Stanford and Sanders, with Judge C. L. Stanford. In 1920 he was elected Third District member of the Sixty-seventh United States Congress, where he served until 1930. On November 15, 1921, he was admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court. Sanders was an advocate of states' rights who broke with the New Deal; he fought the packing of the Supreme Court by F. D. Roosevelt and took John Nance Garner's place on the Ways and Means Committee. Sanders was a Mason and a member of the Mystic Shrine. He married Jessie Irenie Cox on September 30, 1896; they had one child. Jessie died in September 1898, and Sanders married Noma Tull on February 19, 1905; she died on December 2, 1932. His third wife, Florence Wren Martin, survived him. Sanders died on January 7, 1956.

Frank Carter Adams, ed., Texas Democracy: A Centennial History of Politics and Personalities of the Democratic Party, 1836–1936 (4 vols., Austin: Democratic Historical Association, 1937). Thomas Clarence Richardson, East Texas: Its History and Its Makers (4 vols., New York: Lewis Historical Publishing, 1940). Clarence R. Wharton, ed., Texas under Many Flags (5 vols., Chicago: American Historical Society, 1930).
  • Law, Law Enforcement, and Outlaws
  • Lawyers
  • General Law

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

Diana J. Kleiner, “Sanders, Morgan Gurley,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 29, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

June 1, 1995