Coke, Richard


Signature of Texas’ 15th Governor, post-Reconstruction US Senator


Autograph ID: 7025
Condition: Very good
Description: “(1829-1897) Virginia-born Texas lawyer, farmer, and statesman, 15th Governor 1874-76, US Senator 1877-95. In 1850, he moved to Texas and opened a law practice in Waco. A delegate to the 1861 Secession Convention, joined the Confederate Army, and in 1862 raised a company that became part of the 15th Texas Infantry. He was its Captain for the rest of the war. In 1865, he was appointed a district court judge, and then in 1866 was elected as an associate justice to the Texas Supreme Court. In 1867, Military Governor General Phil Sheridan fired Coke and 4 other judges; their firing made them famous with the public, symbols of resistance to Union occupation. In 1873, Coke leveraged resentment at Union occupation to construct a Democratic electoral coalition that would rule Texas for over 100 years. He ran for Governor as a Democrat in 1873 and took office in January 1874. The Texas Supreme Court ruled his election invalid. Democrats secured the keys to the 2nd floor of the Capitol and took possession. On Jan. 15, 1874, he was inaugurated as governor. On Jan. 16, incumbent Gov. Edmund Davis arranged for a truce, but appealed for federal intervention. A telegram from President Grant said that he would not send US troops to keep Davis in office. Davis resigned January 19. Coke’s administration was marked by vigorous action to balance the budget and by a revised state constitution adopted in 1876. He was also instrumental in creating the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas (Texas A&M University). As Governor he appointed all members of the Supreme Court, and members of the Texas judiciary under the Confederacy received key appointments. Once the new constitution was negotiated, Coke resigned in Dec. 1876 after election to the US Senate, serving 1877-95. He was not a candidate for reelection in 1894. Coke County in West Texas named for him.

Signed 3 x 5 ½ fragment of an autograph album page, adds “Texas” under signature, likely while US Senator; undated but ca. 1878”
Type: Signature

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