Ferguson, b.

Ferguson, “Ma” (b. Miriam Amanda Wallace)

(1875–1961) governor; born in Bell County, Texas (wife of James Ferguson). A housewife—although she had attended college—she entered politics to clear her husband's name. After his impeachment in 1917 on charges of mishandling funds and interfering in the university, he was forbidden ever to hold any state office. So in 1924, she ran and was elected, first to serve (1925–27) and then later to a second term (1933–35). In many ways she was merely a "front" for her husband (who had an office beside hers in the state house), promoting his essentially populist conservative agenda—including pardoning large numbers of prisoners, but opposing the Ku Klux Klan. Her last term was marked by charges of graft in the Highway Commission, and she retired to Austin and remained out of public life.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.