James C. Wright was born in Fort Worth, Texas, the city he served in Congress until his resignation on June 30, 1989.
Wright finished public school in ten years and was on his way toward wrapping up college in three years when Pearl Harbor was attacked. He enlisted in the Army Air Force in 1941 and received his flyer's wings and a commission at age 19. He flew combat missions in the South Pacific and holds the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Legion of Merit.
After the war, Wright was elected to the Texas Legislature where he served from 1947-1949. At age 26, he became the youngest mayor in Texas when voters chose him to head the city government in Weatherford, his childhood home. He served in that capacity from 1950-1954.
Elected to Congress at age 31, Wright was a U.S. Representative of Texas from 1955-1989, and Speaker of the House of Representatives from 1987-1989. As evidence of the esteem in which he was held by the people of the 12th district of Texas, Wright drew no opponent at all in either primary or general elections for ten years beginning in 1964. Then, challenged in the 1974 general election by an extremely well-financed opponent, Wright received 79 percent of the vote and carried every one of the 123 precincts in his district by a wide margin. His victories following were equally impressive.
Wright served as a delegate in the Democratic National Conventions in 1956, 1960, 1964, and 1968; he was Convention Chairman in 1988. While serving in Congress, he won the title of "Most Respected Member of the House." Wright resigned from Congress on June 30, 1989.
Wright was initiated into Fort Worth Chapter DeMolay in Fort Worth, Texas, in 1939. He received the Legion of Honor in 1981. Wright was a member of the first class to be inducted into the DeMolay Hall of Fame on November 13, 1986.
"In this world of changing values that seem to shift as sand in the wind, DeMolay instills into many thousands of young men an enduring ethical bedrock. The example of Jacques DeMolay returns again and again to remind us in the quiet recesses of our souls that expediency is no moral substitute for principle."