The Congress: Mister Sam

In Dallas' Baylor University Medical Center last week, two elderly ladies emerged from a hushed, darkened room. Their eyes told the story: in the quiet room lay their brother, Sam Rayburn, 79, in a drugged sleep, beyond the help of medicine or surgery. A biopsy had disclosed that the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives was ravaged with cancer and had little time left to live.

Persuasion & Reason. Samuel Taliaferro (pronounced Tolliver) Rayburn has served in the House longer than any other man—nearly 49 years, more than a quarter of...

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