'The Plain Democrat' is a curated digital exhibit consisting of speeches, campaign flyers and literature, lantern plates, photographs, and correspondence from the Pat M. Neff Papers housed at The Texas Collection at Baylor University. The exhibit focuses on Neff's gubernatorial campaigns and two terms as governor of Texas from 1921-1925.
A rural Texan with a deep-seeded Baptist faith and gift for oratory, Neff styled himself as man of and for the people. He was a strong and stubborn maverick that passionately believed in the principles that he battled for such as the prohibition of liquor, suffrage for women, access to education, and an equitable tax system. Neff's time as governor was marked by social and political turmoil. Issues such as Prohibition and the rising influence of the Ku Klux Klan pitted members of the dominant Democrat Party in Texas against each other. During his four years in office, Neff achieved the establishment of a state park system, reforms of the highway commission, and establishment of Texas Technological College (today, Texas Tech University) in Lubbock and Texas Teacher's College in Nacogdoches.
A rigid adherent to the law, Neff all but eliminated the practice of issuing pardons during his two terms, and he imposed martial law in t he oil-boom town of Mexia and during a labor conflict in Denison. Although he was an ardent supporter of the progressive policies of President Woodrow Wilson, Neff adamantly refused to align with any faction within the Democrat Party or conform to the will of the Democrat political machine in Texas. As a self-proclaimed, "plain Democrat," Neff dedicated his time as the chief public servant of Texas to following the will of his fellow Texans.
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