Coke, Richard, 1829-1897

Alternative names
Dates:
Birth 1829-03-13
Death 1897-05-14
English, Spanish; Castilian

Biographical notes:

Epithet: witness of Wolley Ch iii.79

British Library Archives and Manuscripts Catalogue : Person : Description : ark:/81055/vdc_100000000759.0x0001e9

Epithet: gentleman, subject of Wolley Ch x.60

British Library Archives and Manuscripts Catalogue : Person : Description : ark:/81055/vdc_100000000759.0x0001e1

Epithet: witness of Wolley Ch xi.42, 43

British Library Archives and Manuscripts Catalogue : Person : Description : ark:/81055/vdc_100000000759.0x0001ea

Epithet: gentleman, subject of Wolley Ch xii.137 and xii.138

British Library Archives and Manuscripts Catalogue : Person : Description : ark:/81055/vdc_100000000759.0x0001e2

Jurist, U.S. senator and governor of Texas.

From the description of Richard Coke grant, 1874. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 79454235

Epithet: of Kirkby in Ashfield, co. Nott., gentleman

British Library Archives and Manuscripts Catalogue : Person : Description : ark:/81055/vdc_100000000759.0x0003d3

Epithet: witness of Wolley Ch xii.102

British Library Archives and Manuscripts Catalogue : Person : Description : ark:/81055/vdc_100000000759.0x0001eb

Born to John and Eliza (Hankins) Coke near Williamsburg, Virginia, Richard Coke received a degree in civil law from William and Mary College in 1848. In 1850, he moved to Waco, Texas, where he practiced civil and criminal law and married Mary Evans Horne. In 1861, Coke voted for the state's secession as a delegate at the Austin convention on the issue. The following year, he raised a company that became part of the Fifteenth Texas Infantry, with which he served throughout the Civil War as a captain. Coke became judge of the 19th judicial district in 1865 and a justice on the Texas Supreme Court in 1866. Elected governor in 1873, Coke aided growth of public and vocational education in Texas and attempted to restore financial order by cutting public printing and asylums, but was thwarted by the escalated cost of frontier and border security. In 1877, Coke resigned to represent Texas in the U. S. Senate, supporting the Bland-Allison Act of 1878 and the Interstate Commerce Act of 1887 before retiring to Waco in 1895.

Source:

"Payne, John W., Jr." Handbook of Texas Online Accessed May 12, 2011. http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fco15.

From the guide to the Richard Coke Scrapbook, 1864, 1884-1912, (Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin)

Richard Coke, resident of Waco, Texas, and state governor, legislature, and lawyer, was one of the most influential political figures in Texas during the late 1800s. His papers held by The Texas Collection include letters, legal records, financial documents, literary productions, scrapbook materials, and photographs. This small but diverse collection reflects the many activities of Richard Coke on the local and state political stage.

Coke was born in 1829 March 13 near Williamsburg, Virginia to John and Eliza Hankins Coke. He apparently received good primary education, since he entered William and Mary College in 1843, graduating in 1848 with a law degree. In 1850 he moved to Waco, Texas, perhaps looking for a place on the frontier that he could use his skills as a lawyer. His law business did very well, and he became known for his abilities in both civil and criminal law cases. Richard married Waco girl Mary Evans Horne in 1852. Though the couple had four children, none of them lived to adulthood. Several letters, receipts, and legal forms are in the collection from these early years of Coke's life.

Richard Coke's political career began in 1859 when he was appointed by Texas governor Hardin R. Runnels to a commission that decided the Comanche Indians must be removed from Texas. Coke was a delegate to the Texas Secession Convention, voting for secession. During the American Civil War, he was captain of Company K, 15th Texas Infantry, under Colonel Joseph Warren Speight. As part of the 15th Texas, Coke fought in the Trans-Mississippi, including Arkansas, Louisiana, and Texas, and was wounded at the Battle of Bayou Bourbeau in 1863 November 3. With the war over, Coke was appointed judge of the Texas 19th Judicial District by Reconstruction Governor A.J. Hamilton. In 1866 Richard Coke was elected as justice of the state supreme court, but was removed by General Philip H. Sheridan when the Radical Republican Congress divided the South into military-controlled districts in 1867. Coke continued his efforts to influence Texas political life, and was elected as the first post-war Democratic governor of Texas in 1873 by over forty thousand votes. His victory was bitterly contested by the state Republican Party, the state supreme court, and outgoing Governor Edmund J. Davis, but he took office in 1874 January with popular majority backing. The collection contains several documents written during the Civil War, as well as several certificates from right after the war.

As governor, Richard Coke pushed for undoing many of programs adopted during Republican rule of Texas. He cut spending by reducing funding for state asylums, state printing, and decentralizing the school system, but the savings were wiped out by increasing the military presence on the Texas-Mexico border and guarding the frontier from Comanche and Kiowa trying to regain their land and way of life. As part of his rollback of Republican programs, Coke and the Democratic-controlled Congress passed a new state constitution. Voters expressed their approval of his actions by reelecting Richard Coke as governor in 1876, but he resigned in 1877 upon his election as United States senator. There are almost no manuscripts directly from Coke's time as governor, though several letters and other documents date from his years in the United States senate.

Coke's career in the United States senate lasted for seventeen years. During that time, he earned a reputation as an informed senator who generally voted in line with other Southern Democrats. He opposed federal aid to schools, tariffs to protect domestic manufacturing, suspending silver coinage, and providing federal army protection to elections threatened by intimidation. Coke supported the Bland-Allison Act of 1878 and the Interstate Commerce Act of 1887. He did not run for reelection in 1894.

After retirement from political life, Richard Coke did some farming along the Brazos River. However, he enjoyed retirement for only three years before he died at his home in Waco in 1897 May 14. Luminaries such as the governor of Texas at the time were pallbearers during his funeral at Oakwood Cemetery, Waco. Richard Coke is remembered today for his election as the first post-Civil War Democratic governor of Texas.

Much of the collection was gathered by the McCelvey family, especially by Mary Elizabeth "Honey" Horne McCelvey, who was the niece of Richard Coke's wife Mary Evans Horne Coke. Mary Horne McCelvey apparently lived with Richard and Mary Coke during the last six years of Richard's life, and eventually inherited many of his historical manuscripts.

From the description of Richard Coke papers, 1828-1964, undated 1852-1957, undated. (Baylor University Libraries). WorldCat record id: 768482463

Born to John and Eliza (Hankins) Coke near Williamsburg, Virginia, Richard Coke received a degree in civil law from William and Mary College in 1848.

In 1850, he moved to Waco, Texas, where he practiced civil and criminal law and married Mary Evans Horne. In 1861, Coke voted for the state's secession as a delegate at the Austin convention on the issue. The following year, he raised a company that became part of the Fifteenth Texas Infantry, with which he served throughout the Civil War as a captain. Coke became judge of the 19th judicial district in 1865 and a justice on the Texas Supreme Court in 1866. Elected governor in 1873, Coke aided growth of public and vocational education in Texas and attempted to restore financial order by cutting public printing and asylums, but was thwarted by the escalated cost of frontier and border security. In 1877, Coke resigned to represent Texas in the U. S. Senate, supporting the Bland-Allison Act of 1878 and the Interstate Commerce Act of 1887 before retiring to Waco in 1895.

From the description of Richard Coke Scrapbook, 1864-1912 (University of Texas Libraries). WorldCat record id: 761962726

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http://n2t.net/ark:/99166/w6j67tz0
Ark ID:
w6j67tz0
SNAC ID:
33287529

Subjects:

  • Governors--Texas--Biography
  • Lawyers
  • Prohibition--Texas
  • Governor
  • Silver question--Speeches in Congress
  • Political oratory--Texas--History--19th century
  • Elections--Texas--History--19th century
  • Political oratory--History--19th century
  • Prohibition
  • Legislators
  • Elections--History--19th century

Occupations:

  • Jurists
  • Senators, U.S. Congress--Texas
  • Governors--Texas

Places:

  • Chelmorton, Derbyshire (as recorded)
  • Horsley, Derbyshire (as recorded)
  • Bolsover Castle, Derbyshire (as recorded)
  • Kylburne, Derbyshire (as recorded)
  • Denby, Derbyshire (as recorded)
  • Texas (as recorded)
  • Tyssinton, Derbyshire (as recorded)
  • Pyngston, Derbyshire (as recorded)
  • Wendysley, Derbyshire (as recorded)
  • Marston Montgomery, Derbyshire (as recorded)
  • Shelford, Nottinghamshire (as recorded)
  • Calke, Derbyshire (as recorded)
  • Denby, Derbyshire (as recorded)
  • Locko, Spondon, Derbyshire (as recorded)
  • Waco (Tex.) (as recorded)
  • Kerkbey in Ashefeld, Nottinghamshire (as recorded)
  • Milburne, Derbyshire (as recorded)
  • Horsley, Derbyshire (as recorded)
  • Horsley Woodhouse, Derbyshire (as recorded)
  • Texas (as recorded)
  • Bolsover, Derbyshire (as recorded)
  • Somersal Herbert, Derbyshire (as recorded)
  • Horsley Woodhouse, Derbyshire (as recorded)
  • Shrosbury, Shropshire (as recorded)
  • Kyrkbie in Ashfeld, Nottinghamshire (as recorded)
  • Normanton, Derbyshire (as recorded)
  • Kylburne, Derbyshire (as recorded)
  • Alsopp in the Dale, Derbyshire (as recorded)
  • Texas (as recorded)
  • Trusley, Derbyshire (as recorded)
  • Westminster, Middlesex (as recorded)
  • Waco (Tex.)--History--19th century--History--19th century (as recorded)
  • Calke, Derbyshire (as recorded)
  • Blackwell, Derbyshire (as recorded)
  • South Wingfield, Derbyshire (as recorded)
  • Wendysley, Derbyshire (as recorded)
  • Crich, Derbyshire (as recorded)
  • Texas (as recorded)
  • Lockowe, Derbyshire (as recorded)