Marion Martin (1830-1903), lieutenant governor, prohibitionist, and Populist, the son of James and Elizabeth (Cofield) Martin, was born in Livingston County, Kentucky, on April 1, 1830. His mother died before he was a year old, and his father died in 1838. W. N. Hodge reared young Martin, who in 1850 married Hodge's daughter Mary. Martin received only one year of formal schooling and served as a boat-hand on the Ohio and Mississippi rivers, a store clerk, and a trader before moving to Texas in 1853. He first settled in Jefferson but moved to Navarro County later that same year and took up farming and stock raising. He eventually accumulated 1,500 acres. The Martins had seven children. Mary died in 1866, and Martin married Angie Harle in 1877; this couple had three children. Martin was elected to the Texas Senate in 1859 as a supporter of Sam Houston, who was elected governor as an independent the same year.
Martin canvassed his district against secession in 1861, but upon the outbreak of the Civil War he joined Company C, Twentieth Texas Cavalry, Confederate States Army, as a captain and served until 1862. He returned to public life in 1875, when he was elected to the state constitutional convention. He served on the education, finance, and improvements committees. He won election to the Texas Senate in 1878 and 1880 on the Democratic ticket and was elected lieutenant governor in 1882. Despite his meager schooling he was a good debater and renowned for his opposition to monopolies and class legislation.
With support from the Knights of Labor, the Farmers' Alliance, and prohibitionists, Martin made a strong but unsuccessful bid for the Democratic nomination for governor in 1886. His campaign centered around the demand for the sale of public lands to actual settlers rather than to speculators and large ranchers. He also favored the regulation of railroads. Martin campaigned against liquor in the 1887 statewide prohibition campaign. The Prohibition party nominated him for governor in 1888. The Union Labor party and Non-Partisan executive committees endorsed the Prohibitionists' choice, as did the Republicans. Martin received 98,447 votes or 28 percent of the ballot. The Populist or People's party nominated Martin for lieutenant governor in 1892 and 1894. His failing health caused him to retire from public life afterward. He died on June 11, 1903, and was buried in Corsicana.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: Alwyn Barr, Reconstruction to Reform: Texas Politics, 1876-1906 (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1971). Memorial and Biographical History of Navarro, Henderson, Anderson, Limestone, Freestone, and Leon Counties (Chicago: Lewis, 1893).
Worth Robert Miller
Reprinted with permission from the Handbook of Texas Online, a joint project of the Texas State Historical Association and the General Libraries at the University of Texas at Austin. © 2003, The Texas State Historical Association.