Two Governors Cow Horn Chair
Made for Governor Miriam Ferguson by prisoners in the Texas State Penitentiary at Huntsville
This decorative chair was gifted to Governor Ma Ferguson by prisoners at Huntsville. A plaque on the chair’s back reads “2 Governors Chair,” likely in reference to Ma’s campaign promise that Texans would get two governors for the price of one.
Miriam “Ma” Ferguson (1875–1961) was the first woman elected as Governor of Texas and served two non-consecutive terms — 1925 to 1927 and 1933 to 1935. She got into politics because her husband, Governor James Ferguson (1915–1917), was impeached and barred from holding an office in Texas again. He convinced Miriam to enter the 1924 governor’s race, offering Texans “Two governors for the price of one.” Her campaign sought vindication for the Ferguson name, promised lower government spending and taxes, opposed liquor legislation, and condemned the Ku Klux Klan. Ma easily defeated her Klan-supported prohibitionist opponent for the Democratic nomination and went on to win the general election by a large margin.
Like her husband, Miriam’s two terms were characterized by controversy. Known for her excessive prisoner pardons, Ferguson received many gifts from inmates over her four years in office. She averaged 100 prisoner pardons a month and issued almost 4,000 total during her two terms. It was never proven, but allegations persisted that the Fergusons accepted bribes in exchange for pardons. For her part, Ferguson maintained that her liberal policy on pardons was an effort to reduce prison costs, as is evidenced by the eighth plank in her campaign platform.
Courtesy Bell County Museum, Belton
Time Period: 1866 - 1936
This artifact is not on view.