The Maverick Family in Texas Asks: "Who You Callin' a Maverick?"

NYT writer and Texas son John Schwartz wrote this very funny piece about the family in Texas who bear the name being co-opted by John McCain's presidential campaign.
[T]o those who know the history of the word, applying it to Mr. McCain is a bit of a stretch – and to one Texas family in particular it is even a bit offensive.

“I’m just enraged that McCain calls himself a maverick,” said Terrellita Maverick, 82, a San Antonio native who proudly carries the name of a family that has been known for its progressive politics since the 1600s, when an early ancestor in Boston got into trouble with the law over his agitation for the rights of indentured servants.

In the 1800s, Samuel Augustus Maverick went to Texas and became known for not branding his cattle. He was more interested in keeping track of the land he owned than the livestock on it, Ms. Maverick said; unbranded cattle, then, were called “Maverick’s.” The name came to mean anyone who didn’t bear another’s brand.

Who You Callin’ a Maverick? (NYT)
Image: Mr. Samuel Augustus Maverick, of Texas.


  1. If took a drink of my scotch and soda every time Palin said “Maverick” during the VP debate, I would have had alcohol poisoning.

  2. I really enjoyed this article but then I made the mistake of searching for more information. Wikipedia has Samuel Maverick as one of the first Slave holders in Massachussets. Wikipedia seems to largely rely on this source which suggests that he got in trouble with the government for bringing slavery to the colony, and not because he was agitating for anyone’s rights.

    If not the earliest, Maverick was one of the earliest slaveholders in Massachusetts, having purchased one or more slaves of Capt. William Pierce, who brought some from Tortugas in 1638. Slavery was always repugnant to the feelings of our Puritan fathers, and from this fact, and the Episcopacy of Maverick, there was gradually engendered an ill-feeling between him and the government, which began to show itself as early as March, 1635, when the Court ordered Maverick to leave Noddle’s Island by the following December, and take up his abode in Boston, and, in the “meantyme” not give “entertainment to any strangers for a longer tyme than one night without leave from some Assistant, and all this to be done under the penalty of £100.”

  3. Also the Puritans bemoaned him for entertaining a ‘husband and wife’ who weren’t husband and wife to each other, and for other guests purportedly drinking too much onboard their ship.

  4. Re: comment #4 by Decious: According to Wikipedia, the man you mention, Samuel Maverick, lived about 200 years earlier than Samuel Augustus Maverick, after whom the term is named.

  5. @Theundreaming and @boeingboeing

    The article talks about multiple people in the Maverick family. The section quoted above says:

    …a family that has been known for its progressive politics since the 1600s, when an early ancestor in Boston got into trouble with the law over his agitation for the rights of indentured servants.

    This reference to an early ancestor in Boston is not a reference to Samuel Augustus Maverick, who lived in Texas in the early 1800s. It is most likely a reference to the Samuel Maverick I discussed in my earlier post, who lived in Boston in the 1600s. THAT Samuel Maverick did not “agitate for the rights of indentured servants” but, rather was one of the first slave owners in Mass.

  6. @11

    Apologies, I didn’t read your first remark as you intended. From your wording, I thought you believed you were referring to the Samuel Maverick in the linked article, not an ancestor similarly named.

    I will say, though, that an indentured servant and a slave aren’t the same thing. A Wiki citation says more than half of white immigrants to the North American colonies in the 17th and 18th centuries were indentured servants.

    The elder Maverick could have opposed the first and supported the second.

  7. Small-m mavericks, on the other hand, were stock animals (often calves) found wandering, unbranded, on the range.

    By tradition, they belong to whoever brands them first.

    I expect both of our ‘maverick’ candidates will be found to have a large “R” on their ass.

  8. I’m with featheredfrog on this–Brett Maverick, James Garner, is a life-long liberal, met his wife at a rally for Stevenson, and fought heroically for actors rights and against studio strong arming. He and his wife have given generously to Dems for decades. He’ll always be my Maverick!

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