Updated: Nov 6, 2020
Pioneering western lawyer and authority on railroad rates and regulations.
1858-1928 | Artist: Othmar J. Hoffler (1893-1954)
Impact & Accomplishments
Pioneering western lawyer and authority on railroad rates and regulations, Sam Cowan was born and raised in Tennessee and moved to Texas with his family at age twenty. He taught school for a time, then moved to Sweetwater and studied law.
In 1883, Cowan moved to Big Springs and became active in surveying and other land matters, working closely with ranchers. He served as district attorney for ten years, and then moved to Fort Worth in 1893, as counsel for the Texas Cattle Raisers Association. During that period, the regulation of transportation rates was a major issue, and Cowan worked on key legislation and frequently testified before Congress.
After twenty-three years with the Cattle Raisers, Cowan was retained as attorney for the American Live Stock Association. He represented the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) several times and prepared the original Hepburn Bill in 1906, giving the ICC power to regulate railroad shipping rates. President Teddy Roosevelt offered Cowan an appointment on the Interstate Commerce Commission, but he refused.
Did You Know?
Cowan was involved in writing the Hepburn Rate Bill in 1906. Cartoon: Hepburn Rate Bill by Clifford K. Berryman, May 15, 1906; U.S. Senate Collection, RG 46. National Archives.