The Sixth Congressional District of Texas has enjoyed a long and colorful past. When first drawn in 1873, it encompassed a large part of the Texas land mass and included a population of 136,430 residents. Today, the land mass of the district is much smaller. It includes only five counties and parts of three others. But the population of the district is well in excess of 650,000 residents.
The Sixth Congressional District was drawn as part of the congressional reapportionment that followed the 1870 Census. The state of Texas had grown to a population of 818,579, which meant a gain of two seats in the U.S. House of Representatives. Today, Texas is the second most populous state behind California with more than 20 million people represented by 32 members of the U.S. House.
Only 12 people have represented the Sixth District of Texas in Congress. The first 10 were Democrats, reflecting the 100 year dominance of the Democratic Party in Texas following Reconstruction. The last two, including incumbent Joe Barton, have been Republicans, reflecting the rise and growing dominance of the Republican Party in state politics. Only one, Phil Gramm, was elected by both parties, first as a Democrat and then as a Republican.
As was customary in the post Civil War years, six of the first seven men elected to represent the Sixth District were Confederate veterans. (The sixth representative to be elected, Dudley Wooten, was not born until 1860, but was followed in office by another Confederate veteran).
All twelve men who have represented the district were well educated. Eight were lawyers. One, Tiger Teague, was a Post Office employee, and another, Phil Gramm, was a college professor. Two men were engineers: the first Congressman, Gustav Schleicher, and the incumbent, Joe Barton. For the past six decades, the district has been represented by men with close ties to Texas A&M University: Tiger Teague, who graduated from the university in 1932; Phil Gramm, who taught Economics there from 1967 -1978; and Joe Barton, who graduated in 1972.
In the past century, election to multiple terms in office has been the norm for the representative from the Sixth District. Rufus Hardy, elected in 1907, served 16 years in the House; Luther Johnson served 23; Tiger Teague served 32; and Joe Barton has served 25. The longest serving Congressman for the Sixth, Olin "Tiger" Teague, was a decorated war hero. Commissioned a First Lieutenant in 1940, Teague received three Silver Stars, a Bronze Star, and three Purple Hearts during World War II. He was discharged as a Colonel at Walter Reed Hospital in 1946 and was elected to Congress the same year.
In its 134 year history, the Sixth District of Texas has changed as Texas and the country have changed. Today, it is a microcosm of the state, encompassing rural, suburban, and urban elements. But it also contains a great deal of Texas history. The first county, Houston Co., created by the new state in 1845 is here. So is the first oil field near Corsicana. From farms and ranches that were part of Spanish land grants on one end of the district to the sites of famous Indian battles and early frontier forts on the other end; from the coming of the pioneer to the congestion of large cities; from the coming of the railroad to high-tech automobile assembly plants; from cotton plantations to spacecraft component manufacturing, and from frontier saloons to modern sports stadiums, the history of the Sixth District reflects the rich history of the state. Like the men who have represented the district in Congress, it's a history befitting the best of the best of Texas.