Young, James (1866–1942)

By: David Minor

Type: Biography

James Young, United States representative and lawyer, was born on a farm near Henderson on July 18, 1866. He left the family farm at the age of twenty-one to travel to Austin. He received a law degree from the University of Texas in 1891. That same year he was admitted to the bar and married Allie Nash of Kaufman. For the next twenty years Young remained in the county seat of Kaufman, practicing law, running a farm, and raising his son and daughter. Young was a lifelong Democrat and supported James S. Hogg. He developed a reputation as an ardent supporter of prohibition; he refused to defend any person accused of violating the liquor laws and volunteered his services to the county district attorney to assist in prosecuting violators. In 1911 Young, who had never run for public office, announced his decision to seek election as representative for the Third Congressional District. His successful campaign in 1911 was the first of five electoral victories. During his tenure in the House (1911–21), Young focused his efforts on assisting Texas farmers, when he served as a member of the House Committee on Agriculture. His colleague, Sam T. Rayburn, believed Young to be, "one of the first of the outstanding advocates of relief of the agricultural classes." Young was also a bitter opponent of the federal income tax. Although he was unopposed in 1921, Young surprised his fellow Democrats by announcing his retirement from the House. He returned to Kaufman, where he resumed his law practice. In 1928 he again surprised his political colleagues by publicly supporting Al Smith. Young announced his candidacy for the Democratic nomination for governor in 1930. One of eleven candidates, Young's campaign centered on raising money for the depression-ridden state. He advocated taxes on sulfur, gas, and pipe lines. The former congressman finished fifth and immediately announced his support for Ross S. Sterling in his runoff with Miriam "Ma" Ferguson. Following the election of 1930 Young returned to Henderson. He continued to practice law until 1937, when he moved to Dallas to live with his daughter. On April 29, 1942, he died at his daughter's home. He was buried in the Baptist cemetery at Kaufman.

Norman D. Brown, Hood, Bonnet, and Little Brown Jug: Texas Politics, 1921–1928 (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1984). Biographical Directory of the American Congress. Seth Shepard McKay, Texas Politics, 1906–1944 (Lubbock: Texas Tech Press, 1952).
  • Law, Law Enforcement, and Outlaws
  • Lawyers
  • General Law
Time Periods:
  • Texas in the 1920s
  • North Texas
  • Dallas/Fort Worth Region
  • Dallas

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

David Minor, “Young, James,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 19, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

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