Image courtesy of Library of Congress
Representative Lindley Beckworth of Texas served 12 nonconsecutive terms in the House from 1939–1953, and from 1957–1967.
On this date, Lindley Beckworth
of Texas, the youngest Member of the 76th Congress
(1939–1941), was born in rural Kaufman County, Texas, to a family of teachers and farmers. Beckworth worked on the family farm before graduating from Gilmer High School in 1931. He then followed his parents’ profession, teaching to pay his way through summer semesters at several Texas universities. After attending Baylor University Law School for a year, he was admitted to the Texas bar in 1937. In 1936, at age 23, he first campaigned for public office, winning a run-off election as a Democrat for a seat in the Texas state legislature. In 1938, with his father and his twin sister directing his campaign, Beckworth ran for a U.S. House seat representing rural, northeast Texas. He defeated nine-term incumbent Morgan Sanders
for his party’s nomination, a feat that sealed his general election triumph in the heavily Democratic district. Taking the oath of office at age 25 on January 3, 1939, he just made the minimum constitutional age to serve in the House. In 1952, he declined to seek nomination in order to run for a Senate seat vacated by Tom Connally
of Texas. Losing that election, Beckworth returned to his House seat in 1956, serving another 10 years, as a political ally of fellow Texan Lyndon Johnson
. Throughout his career, Beckworth focused on aiding the poor, seeking federal money to provide pensions for the elderly, veterans’ benefits, and aid for struggling farmers in his rural Texas district. “The test of one’s sincerity or the sincerity of any group of legislators,” he once noted, “is whether or not they are willing to raise the money to pay that amount promised by them.” Beckworth lost his renomination bid to neighboring incumbent, Representative Ray Roberts
, in a reapportioned district in 1966. He received an appointment from President Johnson as a judge to the U.S. Customs Court and briefly served as a state senator from 1970 to 1974. Beckworth returned to his law practice in Longview, Texas, before his death in Tyler, Texas, on March 9, 1984.