Jim Wright was born in Fort Worth in 1922 and spent his childhood in Texas and
Oklahoma before attending Weatherford College and the University of Texas. Wright
enlisted in the Army Air Corps during World War II and received his flyer’s wings and
an officer’s commission at the age of nineteen. He flew combat missions in the South
Pacific and received the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Legion of Merit.
Wright began his political career after the war. He joined the Young Democrats of Texas
and, in 1946, was elected to the State Legislature. While a member of the State
Legislature, he supported lowering the voting age to eighteen, allowing women to serve
on juries, and other similar issues that challenged the status quo. In 1950, he became the
mayor of Weatherford, Texas, a position he held until 1954, when voters from the
Twelfth Congressional District elected him to the U.S. House of Representatives.
Wright was a member of Congress for thirty-four years, from 1955 to 1989, a tenure that
spanned eight presidents. During that time, he authored major legislation in the fields of
foreign affairs, economic development, water conservation, and energy. The Interstate
Highway System, Clean Water Program, and flood control are a few examples of the
programs and issues he helped to advance while in office. Over time, he rose in stature
within the Democratic Party. He was the House Majority Leader from 1976 to1986 and
Speaker of the House from 1987 to 1989. As Speaker, Wright presided over the 100th
Congress, one of the most productive in terms of legislation passed in the House’s
history. Speaker Wright’s efforts included working to reduce the national deficit and
finding a way to bring peace to Central America.
Wright has authored numerous books and articles and he currently writes columns and
book reviews for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. He teaches a course in Political Science
at TCU each fall entitled “Topics in American Politics: Congress and the Presidents.”