Portraits of Texas Governors  > Modern Texas Part 1, 1949-1973 (this page)  > Modern Texas Part 2, 1973-1991  >  Modern Texas Part 3, 1991-Present

Portraits of Texas Governors

Modern Texas Part 1, 1949-1973

Allan Shivers

Allan Shivers

July 11, 1949 - January 15, 1957


Link - Letter on tidelands and desegregation

Constituent note on Tidelands and desegregation controversies






Born: October 5, 1907, in Lufkin, Texas

Early Career: Shivers attended high school in Port Arthur and was an outstanding student at the University of Texas. He practiced law in Port Arthur before winning election to the Texas Senate in 1934, at age 27 the youngest member ever to sit in that body. He entered the Army during World War II and served in North Africa, Italy, France, and Germany. He was discharged as a major, with five battle stars and the Bronze Star. In 1946 he was elected lieutenant governor and worked closely with Beauford Jester on an ambitious modernization program. He became governor upon Jester's death.

Accomplishments: Shivers set the stage for the emergence of Texas as a powerful modern state. He helped create the Legislative Council and Legislative Budget Board to put the making of laws on a more professional footing. He was able to pass tax increases to upgrade state services across the board.

The most important issue faced by Shivers was his defense of state claims to the Tidelands, off-shore oil reserves in the Gulf of Mexico. Texas had held title to the submerged lands of the Gulf since the Republic of Texas days, and had dedicated its revenues to the public school fund. After oil was discovered offshore, federal officials tried to seize the Tidelands of Texas and other oil-producing states. This action precipitated the biggest crisis between state and federal authority since the Civil War. In 1952, Shivers broke with the national Democratic party over the issue and helped deliver the state's electoral votes to Dwight Eisenhower, an event that marked the rebirth of the Republican party in Texas. Finally, the Tidelands were returned to the states through federal legislation.

Later years: Shivers managed vast business enterprises in the Rio Grande Valley and served as an executive for a number of banks. He served on and chaired the University of Texas Board of Regents in the 1970s. He died January 14, 1985.

Handbook of Texas article about Governor Allan Shivers

View Photographs of Governor Allan Shivers

Link - Letter on Democratic party

Letter on Shivers' rebellion against the Democratic party





Korean War; 30,000 Americans killed


Supreme Court orders integration of UT law school

Birth control pill introduced


Aug 14 1952

Gulf Freeway is first superhighway in Texas

First H-bomb detonated

Panty raids on college campuses

3-D movies

May 11 1953

Waco tornado kills 114, devastates city

Playboy begins publication

Bermuda shorts

May 22 1953

Tidelands bill becomes law, giving Texas the rights to its offshore oil

Salk polio vaccine

DNA molecule structure demonstrated


Texas women gain right to serve on juries

Brown v. Board of Education decision

Favorite American meal is steak and potatoes with pie a la mode

Montgomery bus boycott

Elvis Presley bursts on the scene with "Heartbreak Hotel"

Price Daniel

Price Daniel

January 15, 1957 - January 15, 1963



Link - Note from Ima Hogg

Note from Ima Hogg on restoration of the Governor's Mansion






Born: October 10, 1910, in Dayton, Texas

Early Career: Daniel earned a law degree from Baylor University and practiced law in Liberty County. A popular defense attorney, he was elected to the Texas House of Representatives in 1939. He earned the respect of his colleagues as an outspoken member of the "Immortal 56," an alliance opposed to a state sales tax, and was elected speaker in 1943. He served as a judge advocate general in the Army during World War II, seeing service in the Pacific and Japan. Upon his return he became the youngest state attorney general in the United States, representing the state in the Tidelands controversy and in the fight against integration of the University of Texas law school. He was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1952, where he distinguished himself in passing stringent narcotics regulation.

Accomplishments: Daniel said he would "rather be Governor of Texas than President of the United States," and in 1957 he got his wish. He was highly successful in promoting continued modernization and expansion of state services. A devoted student of history, he established the Texas State Library and Archives Building and helped design the facility himself. Ironically, he lost popularity after the passage of a state sales tax, a measure he had fought his entire political career.

Later years: Daniel returned to private practice. During the administration of President Lyndon Johnson, he headed the Office of Emergency Preparedness and also served as Johnson's liasion to the nation's governors. He was appointed to the Texas Supreme Court in 1971 and served for eight years. He was also a trustee of Baylor University and served in numerous religious and civic organizations. In fact, he held more offices of public trust than anyone else in Texas history. He died August 25, 1988.

Handbook of Texas article about Governor Price Daniel

View Photographs of Governor Price Daniel

Link - Letter from state archivist

Letter from the state archivist on the new State Library
and Archives building




Jun 28 1957

Hurricane Audrey kills 531 in Texas and Louisiana

Launch of Sputnik, first space satellite

Army enforces integration of Central High School in Little Rock

Frisbee invented

Sep 12 1958

Integrated circuit tested by Texas Instruments in Dallas, ushering in the semiconductor and electronics age

Fidel Castro takes power in Cuba

Quiz show scandal

Independence for many African nations

Laser developed

Chubby Checker leads "twist" craze

Hitchcock's Psycho

Berlin Wall built

Sep 10 1961

Hurricane Carla hits upper Texas coast, kills 43


John Tower becomes first Republican senator from Texas since Reconstruction


NASA opens Manned Spacecraft Center in Houston

Bob Dylan's "Blowin' in the Wind"

Supreme Court rules school prayer unconstitutional

Cuban missile crisis

Jan 14 1963

U.S.-Mexican border finally settled

John Connally

John Connally

January 15, 1963 - January 21, 1969

Link - Statement on planting bluebonnets

Letter on
planting bluebonnets








Born: February 27, 1917, near Floresville, Texas

Early Career: Connally distinguished himself at the University of Texas, where he received a law degree in 1941. He had already passed the bar examination before graduation and begun his career in politics on the staff of Congressman Lyndon Baines Johnson, the beginning of a life-long association. Connally was commissioned in the U.S. Navy Reserve during World War II and served as a fighter director aboard aircraft carriers in the Pacific, enduring nine major battles. Leaving the service as a lieutenant commander, he became known as a political mastermind, running LBJ's political campaigns from Congress to the White House, and also serving as legal counsel to oilman Sid Richardson. He served as secretary of the navy in President John F. Kennedy's cabinet before winning the governorship.

Accomplishments: Handsome, shrewd, and dramatic, Connally personified Texas as many Texans liked to see themselves. Connally saw education as the most important way to address Texas' social problems, and succeeded in financing higher teacher salaries, better libraries, and improved research and doctoral programs in the universities. He continued the reformation of state government, worked on developing Texas as a tourist destination, and established cultural initiatives ranging from the arts to history to the Hemisfair '68 world's fair in San Antonio.

Later years: After leaving the governorship, Connally joined the powerful law firm of Vinson and Elkins and became a foreign-policy advisor to President Richard Nixon. In 1971 he became Secretary of the Treasury. He officially switched parties from Democrat to Republican after LBJ's death, and there was wide speculation that he would be appointed vice-president after the resignation of Spiro Agnew, which would have put him on track to become president.

Connally's reputation as a "wheeler-dealer" squelched the appointment, which went to Gerald Ford. In the 1970s, he was involved with business dealings that contributed to this image, especially a milk-price bribery scandal, for which he was tried and acquitted. He ran for president in 1980 but was soundly defeated for the nomination.

In the 1980s Connally went into real estate development with his protege, Ben Barnes, during a boom time in the Texas economy. When the price of oil collapsed in the late 1980s, Connally and Barnes went with it, along with many other wealthy Texans and most of the state's major financial institutions. Connally was forced to declare bankruptcy and hold a highly publicized auction of his belongings. He died on June 15, 1993.

Handbook of Texas article about John Connally

View Photographs of Governor John Connally


Link - Note following assassination of JFK

Thank-you note from the Connallys following his wounding in the assassination of President Kennedy



Popular TV shows include The Twilight Zone, Mr. Ed, Perry Mason,  Gunsmoke, Leave it to Beaver, Bonanza, and The Dick Van Dyke Show

"Hot line" between U.S. and Soviets

Nov 22 1963

John F. Kennedy assassinated in Dallas; Governor Connally wounded; Lyndon B. Johnson becomes president

Beatles dominate pop music

Civil Rights Act

LBJ announces "Great Society"

Gulf of Tonkin resolution


Poll tax abolished in U.S. Constitution but retained in Texas for state and local offices

Apr 9 1965

Astrodome opens in Houston

Color television


Texas Legislature is reapportioned on the principle of one person, one vote

Vietnam War escalates

Voting Rights Act

Riots in major cities, including Los Angeles (Watts), Detroit, and Newark


Aug 1 1966

Charles Whitman kills 17 from the University of Texas tower

Nov 1966

Poll tax repealed in Texas

Nov 1966

Barbara Jordan becomes first black woman elected to Texas Senate

Sep 20 1967

Hurricane Beulah hits Rio Grande Valley, kills 13

Anti-war demonstrations

Martin Luther King assassinated

Violent crime up 57% since 1960

Preston Smith

Preston Smith

January 21, 1969 - January 16, 1973


Link - Letter on "hippies"

Letter on "long haired kooks"









Born: March 8, 1912, in Williamson County, Texas

Early Career: Smith grew up one of 13 children of a poor tenant farmer. He worked his way through high school and college at Texas Tech during the darkest days of the Depression. With a partner, he opened a movie theater in Lubbock and by 1944 he owned six theaters. He was elected to the Texas House of Representatives in 1944 and to the Texas Senate in 1956. He was elected lieutenant governor in 1962. He concentrated his efforts on working with the state's business interests.

Accomplishments: Smith was dedicated to improved higher education. He signed into law new universities and brought several existing colleges into the university system. He also helped establish new medical, dental, and law schools in the state. Criminal justice was also a focus of Smith's term, which saw the first comprehensive drug abuse program in Texas. Another focus was the passage of the first minimum wage law in the state. Many Texans also remember Smith's participation in the "Drive Friendly" auto safety campaign.

Smith's second term was dominated by fallout from the Sharpstown scandal, which destroyed the career of House Speaker Gus Mutscher, derailed Lieutenant Governor Ben Barnes, and resulted in the defeat of many long-term office-holders in the 1972 election.

Later years: Smith returned to Lubbock and was active in civic and business affairs. He attempted a comeback in 1978 but was defeated in the primary. He later chaired the Coordinating Board for Texas College and Universities (now the Higher Education Coordinating Board). In his later years, Smith worked at Texas Tech University as a special assistant to the chancellor. He died on October 18, 2003.

Handbook of Texas article about Governor Preston Smith

View Photographs of Governor Preston Smith

Link - Water conference

Letter on water problems



Jul 20 1969

Apollo 11 astronaut Neil Armstrong transmits the first words from the surface of the moon: "Houston, the Eagle has landed."


Pantsuits become acceptable for women

Hospital care costs $81 per day

Sesame Street

Four killed in student anti-war protest at Kent State University in Ohio


Securities and Exchange Commission begins investigation of Sharpstown State Bank in Houston; resulting scandal rocks Texas politics

Love Story

"Detente" policy begins between U.S. and USSR and China

Women's liberation movement

Pocket calculators introduced


Dallas Cowboys win their first Super Bowl

Ms. magazine begins publication

Helen Reddy's

"I Am Woman"

Disaster movies

Watergate affair begins

Death penalty overturned

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Page last modified: June 29, 2022