"Never say ‘die,’ say ‘damn’” was supposedly the motto of James Edward “Pa” Ferguson (1871-1944), the only Texas governor ever to be impeached. However, the saying was printed in 1922 newspapers in a poem form, written by an anonymous author. It is doubtful if Ferguson originated the saying.
Wikipedia: James E. Ferguson
James Edward “Pa” Ferguson (August 31, 1871 - September 21, 1944) was a controversial United States politician from the state of Texas.
Governor of Texas
In 1914, Ferguson was elected Governor of Texas running as an anti-prohibitionist Democrat. He served in this position from January 19, 1915 to August 25, 1917.
After being re-elected in 1916, Ferguson vetoed the appropriations for the University of Texas due to its refusal to remove members of their faculty which he found to be objectionable. This move spurred the drive to impeach Ferguson. Ferguson was indicted on nine charges in July 1917. The Texas House of Representatives prepared 21 charges against Ferguson and the Senate convicted him on 10 of those charges. The Senate removed him from the office of Governor and declared him ineligible to hold office in the state of Texas. Despite this ruling, Ferguson ran for Governor in 1918 but he was defeated by William P. Hobby.
He failed at his bid for the United States Senate in 1922, making it to the runoff election but losing to Earle B. Mayfield. Ferguson ran the campaigns of his wife Miriam A. Ferguson, who was elected to two terms as Governor of Texas (January 20, 1925 - January 17, 1927 and January 17, 1933 - January 15, 1935).
The Mother Book
by Liz Smith
Garden City, NY: Doubleday
Defeated for re-election in 1926, “Ma” (who secretly detested this nickname) lived up to the family motto of “Never say ‘die’—say ‘damn’” by running again in 1932 and serving a second two-year term.
Texas: A Modern History
by David G. McComb
Austin, TX: University of Texas Press
Jim Ferguson’s motto was “Never say ‘die,’ say ‘damn.’”
Passionate Nation: The Epic History of Texas
by James L. Haley
New York: Free Press
His own come back was thwarted when he lost the Senate primary to Mayfield, but Ferguson’s motto was, “Never say die, say damn!”
15 August 1922, Duluth (MN) News Tribune, pg. 6, col. 5:
Never say “die”—say “damn.”
it isn’t classic
It may be profane.
But we mortals have need of it, time and again;
And you’ll find you’ll recover from fate’s hardest slam,
you never say “die”—say “damn.”
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • (0) Comments • Wednesday, August 15, 2007 • Permalink