John and Nellie Connally to Mrs. F.T. Baldwin, January 2, 1964
Lieutenant Governor Preston Smith was enjoying lunch at the Capitol with some Lubbock friends on November 22, 1963. Later that evening, he planned to attend a special dinner at Austin's Muncipal Auditorium for President Kennedy and his wife. Vice-president Lyndon Johnson and Governor Connally and their wives would all be in attendance. Smith left the lunch table to answer a ringing telephone, unaware that a young aide had already answered the extension. Smith heard the aide talking to his wife. The aide's wife was saying that President Kennedy had been shot.
"Is this a prank?" Smith asked, aghast. "Who is this?"
The call was no prank, and Smith himself came very close to becoming governor of Texas that day. President Kennedy had been shot to death while riding in a motorcade in downtown Dallas. Governor Connally, riding in the same car, had been shot and seriously wounded. Connally was hit in the back and suffered a punctured lung, three broken ribs, and a shattered right wrist. Mrs. Connally pulled him down into her lap and bent over him to protect him. All the same, she believed her husband to be dead or dying as the car raced to the hospital with the wounded men. Somehow, when the car arrived at Parkland Hospital, Connally found the strength to heave himself upright and try to move out of the way so emergency technicians could take President Kennedy out of the car first. He remained hospitalized in Dallas until December 6, and spent another five days at the hospital in Austin. It took Connally months to fully recover from his wounds.
Governor Connally sent this note of thanks to a friend and supporter during Connally's recovery from his wounds suffered on November 22, 1963. At the time, the naturally right-handed Connally was still forced to sign his name with his left hand. The Connallys received hundreds of letters from all over the world, all of which they answered.
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John Connally Material, Texas Governor's Mansion Collection, Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.