Vaughan, Horace Worth (1867–1922)

By: Cecil Harper, Jr.

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: July 1, 1995

Horace Worth Vaughan, lawyer, legislator, and judge, the son of George T. and Tippah (Leary) Vaughan, was born in Marion County, Texas, on December 2, 1867. During his childhood the family moved to Linden, Cass County, where Vaughan was educated in the public schools. He studied law under his father and was admitted to the bar in 1885. In January 1886 he and his parents moved to Texarkana, and Vaughan began to practice law. He married Pearl Lockett on November 21, 1888. The couple had three children. In 1888 Vaughan ran unsuccessfully for district attorney. In 1890 he was elected city attorney of Texarkana. He served in this office until 1898, when he was elected county attorney, a post he held for eight years. From 1906 until 1910 he served as district attorney, and then in 1910 he was elected to the state Senate. During this period he was also active in the Democratic party, which he served as a member of the platform and resolutions committee at the 1904 and 1908 state conventions. Vaughan supported most of the reforms advocated by the progressive wing of the Democratic party. He was most heavily involved in the fight for the prohibition of alcoholic beverages. He was a member of the executive committee of the statewide nonpartisan prohibitionist group that waged an unsuccessful campaign for passage of a prohibition amendment in 1911. He was also a member of the advisory board of the Anti-Saloon League of Texas. Although only a freshman senator in 1911, Vaughan was active and influential in areas that concerned him. As a member of the judiciary committee, he introduced and helped push through legislation for court-procedure reform in line with suggestions that had been made by the American Bar Association. Convinced that the state prohibition amendment had been defeated by fraudulent activities of the liquor interests, Vaughan proposed and then chaired a Senate committee that investigated the campaign activities and expenditures of those involved in the prohibition-amendment campaign.

In 1912 Vaughan was elected to the United States House of Representatives, to replace John Morris Sheppard, who had been elected to the United States Senate. In a surprise move shortly before Vaughan's resignation from the state Senate was to take effect, he and two other senators were called before the desk of the presiding officer to be "castigated for their conduct on the floor of the senate." Once before the Senate, the other two senators presented Vaughan with a gold-handled umbrella and a gold-handled penknife. The gifts were inscribed: "Horace W. Vaughan, from the Senate of Texas." In Washington, Vaughan supported virtually all of the measures of the Woodrow Wilson administration. Once there, however, he concluded that though he would continue to work for statewide prohibition, he could not support the movement for national prohibition. In an open letter to his constituents, he argued that national prohibition would violate the rights of the states. In 1914 Vaughan was a candidate for reelection to the House but was defeated in the Democratic primary by Eugene Black, who made opposition to Vaughan's stand on prohibition a major part of his campaign. After Vaughan's term in the House, Wilson first appointed him United States district attorney for Honolulu and then United States district judge for the same district, a position he held from May 1916 until April 1922. In 1917 an Austin newspaper predicted that when Vaughan completed his term as judge in Hawaii he would return to Texas and "again become a strong factor in state affairs." But he never left Hawaii. Shortly after the close of his term as district judge he suffered a nervous breakdown. Ill, despondent, and brooding over the death of his only son two years earlier, he committed suicide on November 10, 1922, and was buried in Nuuanu Cemetery. Vaughan was a Methodist, a Mason, an Odd Fellow, and a member of the Woodmen of the World.

Frank W. Johnson, A History of Texas and Texans (5 vols., ed. E. C. Barker and E. W. Winkler [Chicago and New York: American Historical Society, 1914; rpt. 1916]). Texas Legislature, Senate Journal, 1913. Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin. E. W. Winkler, Platforms of Political Parties in Texas (Austin: University of Texas, 1916).
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The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Cecil Harper, Jr., “Vaughan, Horace Worth,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed August 09, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

July 1, 1995