Sam Rayburn
Historical Figure
Nationality: United States
Date of Birth: 1882
Date of Death: 1961
Cause of Death: Pancreatic cancer
Religion: Baptist
Occupation: Teacher, Lawyer, Politician
Parents: William and Martha Rayburn
Spouse: Metze Jones (divorced)
Children: None
Political Party: Democratic Party
Political Office(s): United States Representative from Texas,
Speaker of the House
Fictional Appearances:
The Man With the Iron Heart
POD: May 29, 1942;
Relevant POD: May, 1945
Type of Appearance: Direct
Political Office(s): United States Representative from Texas, Speaker of the House
POD: May 30, 1942
Appearance(s): Upsetting the Balance
Type of Appearance: Contemporary reference (first edition only)
"News From the Front"
POD: December 8, 1941
Type of Appearance: Contemporary references
The War That Came Early
POD: July 20, 1936;
Relevant POD: September 29, 1938
Appearance(s): The Big Switch
Type of Appearance: Contemporary reference (unnamed)
Joe Steele
POD: 1878;
Relevant POD: July, 1932
Novel or Story?: Story only
Type of Appearance: Direct
Date of Death: 1937
Cause of Death: Engineered automobile accident

Samuel Taliaferro[1] Rayburn (January 6, 1882 - November 16, 1961), widely known as Mr. Sam, was a Democratic politician from Bonham, Texas. He served as leader of the Democratic caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1940 to 1961, being Speaker whenever the Democrats were in the majority, and at the time of his death was the longest-serving Congressman in US House history.

Sam Rayburn in The Man With the Iron Heart[]

Sam Rayburn held the office of Speaker of the House of Representatives in the immediate aftermath of World War II and the rising of the German Freedom Front.[2] A staunch Democrat, he followed the Truman Administration's lead on maintaining an American presence in Germany.[3] This stance brought himself into conflict with Republican Congressman Jerry Duncan throughout 1945 and 1946.[4]

In the wake of the Republican takeover of Congress in 1946, Rayburn was relegated to House Minority leader in 1947, and he was succeeded by Joseph W. Martin.[5] Rayburn still supported the Truman Administration as loudly as he could on the House floor, and still clashed with Duncan.[6]

Sam Rayburn in Worldwar[]

Literary comment[]

On page 435 of the first hardcover edition of Upsetting the Balance, General Leslie Groves reflects that House Speaker Sam Rayburn will succeed the dying F.D. Roosevelt to the presidency, now that Vice President Henry Wallace has been killed in a Race bombing raid. Harry Turtledove was informed, before the second edition went to press, that the House Speaker was not in the succession in the early 1940s, so the passage was changed to refer Secretary of State Cordell Hull, eliminating any mention of Rayburn.

Sam Rayburn in "News From the Front"[]

On June 16, 1942, the Washington Post reported that House Speaker Sam Rayburn had met with House Judiciary Chairman Hatton Sumners to begin impeachment proceedings against President Franklin D. Roosevelt in response to the numerous set-backs that the U.S. had faced immediately after its entry into World War II.[7]

Sam Rayburn in The War That Came Early[]

House Speaker Sam Rayburn presided over the joint session of Congress wherein President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued a formal declaration of war against Japan, on January 12, 1941.[8]

Literary comment[]

The Speaker isn't named, but it is highly likely that Rayburn's election was not affected by the POD.

Sam Rayburn in Joe Steele[]

Literary comment[]

In the short story, Representative Sam Rayburn (1882-1937) takes the Capitol floor to denounce President Joe Steele's draconian purge of the United States Army in 1937. Two days later, he is injured in a "big old goddamn traffic smashup" and dies on the way to the hospital. The clear implication is that this traffic "accident" was arranged by Steele.

Rayburn is not referenced in the novel at all.

See also[]


  1. Taliaferro is pronounced "Tolliver."
  2. The Man With the Iron Heart, pg. 100.
  3. Ibid.
  4. See, e.g., Ibid, pgs. 100-103, 256-259.
  5. Ibid. pg. 342.
  6. Ibid., pgs. 342-345.
  7. See, e.g., Atlantis and Other Places, pg. 120.
  8. The Big Switch, p. 402.