While our physical offices are closed until further notice in accordance with Austin's COVID-19 "stay home-work safe" order, the Handbook of Texas will remain available at no-cost for you, your fellow history enthusiasts, and all Texas students currently mandated to study from home. If you have the capacity to help us maintain our online Texas history resources during these uncertain times, please consider making a 100% tax-deductible contribution today. Thank you for your support of TSHA and Texas history. Donate Today »


Thomas Lloyd Miller

BLANTON, THOMAS LINDSAY (1872–1957). Thomas Lindsay Blanton was born in Houston, Texas, on October 25, 1872, a son of Thomas Lindsay and Eugenia (Webb) Blanton and brother of Annie Webb Blanton. He attended the public schools of Houston and La Grange and graduated from the law school of the University of Texas in 1897. He married May Louise Matthews, daughter of John A. and Sallie (Reynolds) Matthews,qqv in 1899, and they had five children. Blanton began the practice of law in Cleburne but soon moved to Albany. There he practiced until 1908, when he was elected district judge. He was reelected to that office in 1912. In 1916 he was elected to the United States Congress as a Democrat; his first tenure ran from 1917 to 1929. In 1928 he did not seek reelection but ran unsuccessfully for the United States Senate. Upon the death of his successor, Robert Q. Lee, in 1930, he again won election to Congress. He remained in the House until 1937. He served on the committees on claims, education, irrigation and arid lands, railways and canals, woman suffrage, Indian affairs, and the District of Columbia. In 1932 he moved to the appropriations committee, where he remained until 1937.

Early in his career Blanton incurred the wrath of Samuel Gompers and the labor leadership. In World War I he favored a "work or fight" amendment to the draft law. He opposed the railroad strike of 1921. He received many threats, and his car was once fired upon near Washington. In 1924 he proposed to stop all immigration for five years. In 1926 he forced the resignation of a District of Columbia commissioner for overcharging veterans in guardian fees. He caused an investigation at St. Elizabeth's Hospital that resulted in the court's declaring forty-five inmates sane and releasing them. In 1928 he introduced a bill to stop immigration for seven years, to require all aliens to register, and to deport those who did not become citizens. In 1935 he introduced a bill to outlaw Communists in the United States. In his long career he consistently opposed extravagance. On May 28, 1919, he introduced a resolution calling upon all government departments to furnish a list of employees earning money outside the government and the names of all relatives on the payroll. All his fellow Texans voted against the resolution. His opposition to all congressional junkets and fringe benefits voted for themselves by Congressmen caused ill feeling toward him among his colleagues.

After being defeated in 1936, Blanton practiced law in Washington until 1938, when he returned to Albany to practice there. During World War II he urged President Franklin D. Roosevelt to ask Congress to pass promptly a law fixing the death penalty for strikers in wartime. In 1954 he withdrew at his wife's request from a race for Congress against Omar Burleson, who was seeking a fifth term.

The Dallas Morning News once observed that every delegation needed one Tom Blanton. In Congress he had a record of near perfect attendance and offered more objections to appropriations than any other member. Upon his retirement, the Washington Post said that he had saved the government millions of dollars and would be missed. He died in Albany on August 11, 1957, and was buried in the Albany Cemetery.

Abilene Reporter-News, August 12, 1957. Frank Carter Adams, ed., Texas Democracy: A Centennial History of Politics and Personalities of the Democratic Party, 1836–1936 (4 vols., Austin: Democratic Historical Association, 1937). Biographical Directory of the American Congress. San Angelo Standard Times, April 6, 1924. Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.

Image Use Disclaimer

All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.

For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.


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

Handbook of Texas Online, Thomas Lloyd Miller, "BLANTON, THOMAS LINDSAY," accessed June 02, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fbl17.

Uploaded on June 12, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
visit the mytsha forums to participate

View these posts and more when you register your free MyTSHA account.

Call for Papers: Texas Center for Working-Class Studies Events, Symposia, and Workshops
Hi all! You may be interested in this call for papers I received from the Texas Center for Working-Class Studies at Collin College...

Katy Jennings' Ride Scholarly Research Request
I'm doing research on Catherine Jennings Lockwood, specifically the incident known as "Katy Jennings' Ride." Her father was Gordon C. Jennings, the oldest man to die at the Alamo...

Texas Constitution of 1836 Co-Author- Elisha Pease? Ask a Historian
The TSHA profile of Elisha Marshall Pease states that he wrote part of the Texas Constitution although he was only a 24 year-old assistant secretary (not elected). I cannot find any other mention of this authorship work by Pease in other credible research about the credited Constution authors...