Prints and Photographs Collection
Nellie and John Connally enjoy the inauguration of Governor Bill Clements as future First Lady Barbara Bush looks on, January 16, 1979. At the time of this photo, Connally was considered a leading contender for the 1980 Republican presidential nomination.
After being defeated by Ronald Reagan, Connally returned to Texas and, along with his protege Ben Barnes, became a high-flying real estate developer. It was a boom time in Texas, and Connally and Barnes prospered until the price of oil collapsed in the late 1980s, sending the Texas economy into a tailspin and sinking many of the state's financial institutions and wealthy citizens. Connally later said, "we were moving too far too fast and paying dearly for it." He was forced to declare bankruptcy and hold a highly publicized auction of his belongings. Despite this setback, he continued to be an influential force in Texas and national politics until his death in 1993.