January 15, 1963 -
January 21, 1969
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
Popular TV shows include The Twilight Zone, Mr. Ed, Perry Mason, Dr. Kildare, Gunsmoke, Leave it to Beaver, Bonanza, The Beverly Hillbillies, 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
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
Poll tax repealed in Texas
Barbara Jordan becomes first black woman elected to Texas Senate
Sep 20 1967
Hurricane Beulah hits Rio Grande Valley, kills 13
Martin Luther King assassinated
Violent crime up 57% since 1960