Garner was elected to the Texas House of Representatives in 1898, and re-elected in 1900. During his service, the legislature selected a state flower for Texas. Garner fervently supported the prickly pear cactus for the honor and thus earned the nickname "Cactus Jack". (The Bluebonnet was chosen.)
In 1902, Garner was elected to the United States House of Representatives from a newly created Congressional District covering tens of thousands of square miles of rural south Texas. He was elected from the District fourteen subsequent times, serving until 1933. His wife served as his private secretary during this period.
Garner's hard work and integrity made him a respected leader in the House, and he was chosen to serve as minority floor leader for the Democrats in 1929, and then as Speaker of the United States House of Representatives in 1931.
Garner was a supporter of the federal income tax but opposed most tariffs except for those on wool and mohair, important to his Texas base. He also believed in rural investment, bringing taxpayer dollars to farmers of the Brush Country region of South Texas.
Garner was popular with his fellow House members in both parties. He held what he called his "board of education" during the era of Prohibition, a gathering spot for lawmakers to drink alcohol, or as Garner called it, "strike a blow for liberty." (The "board of education" was continued after Prohibition had ended and Garner had left the House by future Speaker Sam Rayburn.)
Read more about this topic: John Nance Garner
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