Clip | Ann - Ann’s Commencement Speech

Governor Ann Richards (Holland Taylor) speaks to a graduating class of college students about the first female governor of Texas, George Washington, and more.

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Ann: Can you imagine if I were your mother-in-law? I could fix you.

Now before I go any further, I should probably mention, since you could be from all over the country, you might think that I was the first female governor of Texas.

So I want to rush to disabuse you of that notion. Texas elected its first female governor way back in the 1920s. Her name was Ma Ferguson.

Now Ma was called Ma 'cause she was married to a man named... Audience: Pa Ann: This is a pretty sharp crowd.

And Pa was governor of Texas. He got impeached for selling pardons to people in the penitentiary. So, yeah, so when they carted Pa off to the pen himself, Ma was elected in his stead. Her campaign slogan was 'Two governors for the price of one.'

Now there was a driving issue in Texas at the time that will sound somewhat familiar, even today. About whether or not children were to be punished if they spoke Spanish in the public schools and they asked Ma what she thought about it. And Ma said, this is true, Ma said if the English language was good enough for Jesus Christ, it is good enough for the school children of Texas. I bet you also don't know that the father of our country was born in Texas.

Oh yeah, and when he was just a slip of a boy he took his little hatchet, went out into the backyard, and chopped down the family mesquite tree. And when his father walked out in the yard and saw the only shade for 50 miles, lying dead on the ground, he called him out and says, 'George, did you cut down this mesquite tree?'

And George said, 'Well, yes, I cannot tell a lie. I took my little hatchet and I cut the tree down.' And his father said, 'Well, son, we are going to have to move to Virginia.'

[laughing] And George says, 'Oh father, do we have to move 'cause I cut down a tree?'

And his father says, 'No son, it's because if you can't tell a lie you ain't never going to amount to anything in Texas.'

[laughing]