Indomitable Sarah
The Life of Judge Sarah T. Hughes
Texas History - Women's Studies
6 x 9, 480 pp.
35 b&w photos.
Pub Date: 05/25/2004
Price:        $35.00


Published by Texas A&M University Press

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Indomitable Sarah

The Life of Judge Sarah T. Hughes

By Darwin Payne
Foreword by Barefoot Sanders
Afterword by Sarah Weddington

Judge Sarah T. Hughes is perhaps best remembered as the woman who swore in Lyndon Johnson as president aboard Air Force One on November 22, 1963, after President John Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas. But long before then, she had been making headlines as the foremost woman Democrat in Texas. In 1935, over the protests of a local senator who said she should be home washing dishes, Sarah T. Hughes was appointed the first woman district judge in Texas. She was nominated for vice president of the United States at the 1952 Democratic National Convention, and in 1961 she was nominated by President John F. Kennedy as a federal district judge. A feminist who devoted her life to liberal causes, she presided over the three-judge panel and wrote the opinion that overturned Texas’s abortion laws in 1970 in Roe v. Wade, a decision upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court, a decision that has rocked American society and politics to this day.

DARWIN PAYNE, professor emeritus of communications at Southern Methodist University, has published biographies of Frederick Lewis Allen and Owen Wister as well as many other books. He holds a Ph.D. in American Civilization from the University of Texas at Austin. He is currently working on a biography of Erik Jonsson, a founder of Texas Instruments and former mayor of Dallas.

What Readers Are Saying:

“I picked up Indomitable Sarah and couldn’t put it down. It’s terrific. Sarah T. Hughes deserved a special book to be written about her and Darwin Payne has captured her in a page-turning way that her page-turning life demanded.” --Jim Lehrer

“A fascinating chronicle of one of my heroes. She led the way for all of us.” --Former Texas Governor Ann Richards

“Oh, she was such a hero, Sarah T. Hughes. Tiny, tough, fearless, and just so positive and practical. Darwin Payne gives us a full account of her decades-long struggles against racism, sexism, poverty, and injustice. We are lucky to have this splendid biography of one of Texas’s greatest freedom fighters.” --Molly Ivins

“A terrific saga of an extraordinary woman and of an era in Texas politics that no longer exists. Sarah T. Hughes would have been the first woman on the U.S. Supreme Court had she been ten years younger.” --Congressman Martin Frost

“Meet Sarah T. Hughes in print. What a woman! What a judge! What a story! Darwin Payne tells it with gusto.” --Liz Carpenter

“Diminutive Sarah Hughes was a giant in law, rights of women and minorities and in creating basic changes in Texas. Outspoken, courageous but always fair—all of us are blessed by her life and accomplishments.” --Louise B. Raggio

“Judge Hughes was unique—in her determination, her courage, and her lifelong dedication to the public good. Surely, she must be considered one of the most important women in our state and national history.” --Barefoot Sanders, from the Foreword

“I am grateful to Darwin Payne for writing about Judge Hughes. I learned a great deal from reading his words, and I know this volume will allow many others to know more about her, and that, I’m confident, will result in many others admiring her and what she stood for. She was a tiny woman, but, far more important, she was a towering leader and intellect.” --Sarah Weddington, from the Afterword


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