Bound by the Texas Spirit: The Texas Breakfast Club

This blog post was written by graduate assistant Emma Fenske, a master’s student in the History Department.

On the fourth Thursday of every month, a club without rules, membership fees, or a clear origin gathered in one of the various rooms located within the Sam Rayburn House building in Washington, D.C. for the Texas Breakfast Club. Beginning around 1964, this group of expatriate individuals found their identity and shared sense of community through their connection to the state of Texas. No other state was or has been able to replicate this phenomenon demonstrating the power of the Texas Spirit to unite individuals even outside of the state. As former President of the Club Representative Charlie Stenholm explained in an interview in 1989, “It goes back to the origins of our Texas roots. Most folks come to Texas looking for something special, a place to make a living and call home. That pioneering spirit is carried forwards in Texans coming to Washington. There was always a need to circle in the wagons to put down our stake in Texas and the same is true in Washington, D.C. … We’ve got a little system to carry us month by month in this tough town we live” [1].

Each meeting of the Texas Breakfast Club began promptly at 8:00 a.m. with an opening prayer followed by every individual attendee announcing to the group their connection with the state of Texas. Their Texas connection could be as direct as a hometown or as indirect as a woman who proudly announced, “I flew over Texas once so I can come,” [2] or a man who in the spirit of George Straight sang his connection to Texas because “all his exes lived in Texas” [3].

Breakfast with a guest speaker followed, and the entire meeting was wrapped up by 9 a.m. The donations for the breakfast often did not cover the overall expenses, and the President of the Club paid the difference out of pocket. Due to the major deficit, raffles and letters asking for payments to match reservations for the Texas Breakfast Club were common [4].

Some speakers like Representative Kika la Garza and President of Texas International Airlines Frank Lorenzo provided breakfast when they spoke for the Texas Breakfast Club. Speakers had to be from Texas, were never paid, and were never reimbursed, for the position of the speaker was highly honorary and sought after. Notable speakers at the Texas Breakfast Club have included George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, Jim Wright, W. R. Poage, Ben Barnes, George Mahon, John Ben Shephard, Jack Hightower, Billy Hobby, Abner McCall (President of Baylor University), Charles W. Duncan (Deputy Secretary of Defense), Dr. Ray Marshall (Secretary of Labor), Jim Wright (House Majority Leader), Bob Armstrong (Land Commissioner), Bill Hobby (Lieutenant Governor of Texas), George H. Mahone, and Bill Clayton (Speaker of the House of TX State House).

The Texas Breakfast Club was an exclusively male club until the election of the Honorable Barbara Jordan (D.,TX) to Congress in 1973, and through the supportive work of White House Correspondent Sarah McClendon, these women were able to break the gender-barrier of the club. Mattie Mae McKee documents this shift in her book as well as notable facts from her frequent attendance and role as treasurer of the club. [5]

Though information on the Texas Breakfast Club is noted in the works and collections of Mattie Mae McKee, Sam Hall, and Jack Hightower at Poage Library and frequently referenced throughout contemporary newspapers, information on the breakfast club remains highly fragmented. The exact origins of the club remain unclear, with the primary knowledge that the Texas Breakfast Club began around 1964 by three men (two founders identified as Sam Rayburn and Dale Miller). [6] Still, the Texas Breakfast Club continues to unite expatriate Texans in the spirit of Texas.

Representative Jack Hightower, as President of the Club, opened his monthly meetings stating,  “Welcome! You are a Texan if you were born in Texas, got there as quickly as you could, ever set foot in Texas, ever flew over any part of the great state, ever wished you were a Texan; Or if you can’t think of a Texas connection just say you’re my friend!” Hightower’s message highlights the community of the Texas Breakfast Club; a club which no other state has been able to replicate, a club brought together in the spirit of Texas.


[1] The Galveston Daily News – “Texans Meet for Breakfast in Washington for 25 Years,” January 1, 1989 p.19

[2] The Galveston Daily News –  “Texans Meet for Breakfast in Washington for 25 Years,” January 1, 1989 p.19

[3] Mattie Mae McKee – book: In the Shadow of the Greats (p.106-111)

[4] Mattie Mae McKee – book: In the Shadow of the Greats (p.106-111); and demonstrated in the collection of Sam B. Hall who began to serve as president of the Texas Breakfast Club in 1977: The Bonham Daily Favorite – “Hall Heads Texas Breakfast Club” October 1, 1976.  and Sam B. Hall Collection at Poage Library: Box 124 File 10-11, Box 125 File 1

[5] Mattie Mae McKee – book: In the Shadow of the Greats (p.106-111)

[6] Mattie Mae McKee – book: In the Shadow of the Greats (p.106-111) and The Galveston Daily News – “Texans Meet for Breakfast in Washington for 25 Years,” January 01, 1989 p.19

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