Texas Legislature, Joint Legislative Investigating Committee Investigating the Assault on Rep. Gordon Burns:
An Inventory of Proceedings at the Texas State Archives, 1933
The Texas Legislature's Joint Legislative Investigating Committee Investigating the Assault on Representative Gordon Burns came into existence on April 25, 1933 (Regular Session of the 43rd Legislature).
On the evening of April 24, State Representative Gordon Burns was assaulted by several individuals in the lobby of the Stephen F. Austin Hotel and seriously beaten. The next morning Representative McGregor and Senator Woodruff made independent motions in the House and Senate for the appointment of committees to investigate the incident and develop recommendations for further legislative action. The motions passed and committee members were immediately appointed in both bodies. The House selected Representatives J.L. Goodman (Chair), B.F. Vaughn, A.K. Daniel, W.C. McClain, Robert W. Calvert, O.S. Chastain, and Olan Van Zandt; the Senate selected Senators Woodruff, Moore, Martin, Patton, and Reddit. The Senate also passed Senate Resolution 93 to send flowers, at member's expense, to Representative Burns.
Later that morning Representative Goodman offered a Simple Resolution [number 149, according to the committee's final report] to formalize the House group and give it full House Committee investigating powers and authority. (The Senate had accomplished the same task by making multiple amendments to the original Senate motion.) Though none of the legislation specified that the House and Senate committees were to act jointly and the final report was presented only in the House with the names of the House committee members attached, the members from both bodies met and conducted the investigation together and the stenographer referred to the committee as a “joint legislative investigating committee” when he certified the transcript on May 1, 1933.
The committee met and heard testimony on April 25 and 26, making its report to the House on April 28. On May 1, 1933 the report was taken up by the House and printed in the House Journal. The report charged Charles F. Roeser, Bryan Payne, and W.C. Stroube (all oil men) with: "hitting, striking, kicking, and cursing" Burns to the point that he was confined in a hospital for two days and prevented from fulfilling his duties in the House, thereby obstructing the proceedings of the House; calling Burns a "son-of-a-bitch" multiple times in varying contexts; violating the Constitution of Texas, which granted immunity to members of the legislature for words spoken in debate; attempting to punish Burns for his activities in attempting to defeat House Bill 213; and generally acting in open contempt of the House of Representatives. Legal representatives for the accused declared that the charges were without grounds because the incident was purely personal and did not occur within the House of Representatives. On May 2, attorneys for the accused indicated that their clients would accept a reprimand by the Speaker of the House of Representatives in return for dropping the charges. Representative Calvert moved that the proposal be accepted and the motion passed.
The record consists of the transcript of proceedings and testimony taken in April of 1933 by the Texas Legislature's Joint Legislative Investigating Committee Investigating the Assault on Representative Gordon Burns. The proceedings document the legislative investigation of the beating Representative Burns received at the hands of several Texas oil men who had been angered by statements Burns had made on the Floor of the House of Representatives. The proceedings were filed on May 30, 1933, probably with the Texas Secretary of State.
To prepare this inventory, the described materials were cursorily reviewed to delineate series, to confirm the accuracy of contents lists, to provide an estimate of dates covered, and to determine record types.
Restrictions on Access
Restrictions on Use
(Identify the page), Proceedings, Joint Legislative Investigating Committee Investigating the Assault on Rep. Gordon Burns, Texas Legislature. Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.
Accession number: 2000/180
These records were transferred to the Archives and Information Services Division of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission by the Texas Secretary of State on May 23, 1940 but was not assigned an accession number until 1982. For purposes of control an individual accession number was assigned to this set of proceedings on August 4, 2000.
Nancy Enneking, August 2000
Detailed Description of the Collection