Modern Texas Part 2, 1973-1991
Born: April 23, 1923 in Uvalde, Texas
Early Career: Dolph Briscoe was the descendant of a signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence. His father was a close friend of Governor Ross Sterling, who once allowed young Briscoe to sleep in Sam Houston's bed in the Governor's mansion. Briscoe graduated from the University of Texas in 1942 and then joined the Army, serving in the China-Burma-India theater. He served in the legislature from 1949-57, where he promoted farm-to-market roads, which greatly enhanced the livelihood of rural Texans. He then left politics to manage his family's ranching and business interests, becoming one of the state's leading ranchers. He spearheaded efforts to eradicate the screwworm, a deadly menace to cattle.
Accomplishments: Briscoe was an attractive candidate to voters seeking an outsider untainted by the Sharpstown affair. As governor, he took a conservative approach, concentrating on more efficient administration of existing services rather than adding new ones. He kept his campaign promise of "no new taxes," the only Texas govenor of the modern era to hold that line. He did back increased spending for highway improvements and signed into law the Texas Open Records Act, which protects the public's right to access to government agencies and records.
He was the first governor to be elected to a four-year term with his victory in 1974 (previous governors had served two-year terms). Voters denied Briscoe another term in 1978.
Later years: Briscoe returned to Uvalde to manage his vast ranching and business interests. He served as senior chairman of the First State Bank in Uvalde and continued to be active in all phases of cattle ranching. He died on June 27, 2010.
Schedule showing a week in the life of the governor
Jan 22 1973
George Foreman of Houston wins heavyweight championship
Roe v. Wade abortion decision
U.S. forces leave South Vietnam; 58,000 American lives lost
Aug 2 1973
Famed "Chicken Ranch" shut down in La Grange
Jul 24- Aug 3 1974
Hostage situation at Huntsville prison
Jul 25 1974
Barbara Jordan delivers "We the People" speech on the impeachment of Richard Nixon
President Nixon resigns
First "test-tube babies"
Alex Haley's Roots
Death penalty reinstated
Saturday Night Fever
Camp David treaty between Israel and Egypt
Jonestown mass suicide in Guyana
John Paul II becomes pope
Born: April 17, 1917, in Dallas
Early Career: After his family lost their farm in the Depression, Clements worked as an oil-field roughneck before attending college. The oil fields interested him more than school and he began a career in drilling. In 1947, he and two partners borrowed the money to buy two oil drilling rigs, a venture that grew into SEDCO, the world's largest offshore drilling company. Clements served as deputy U.S. secretary of defense in the Nixon and Ford administrations.
Accomplishments: Clements stunned political observers when he won an upset victory to become the state's first Republican governor since Reconstruction. He brought his business acumen to state government, insisting on sound budgeting and management policies. He also worked for tough anti-crime measures and improvements in the teaching of basics in the public schools, and made strides in improving Texas relations with Mexico. The beginnings of a severe economic downturn led to Clements' defeat for reelection in 1982.
Letter from Bill McNutt on GOP gains in Navarro County
Three Mile Island nuclear accident
Apr 10 1979
Tornadoes kill 53 in West Texas and devastate Wichita Falls
CNN begins broadcasting
Iranian hostage crisis
Pacman video craze
Saddam Hussein takes power in Iraq
Eruption of Mt. St. Helens
Fuel-efficient cars popular
Sadat assassinated in Egypt
First space shuttle flight
First reports of AIDS
First personal computers
Jun 15 1982
Supreme Court overturns Texas law denying education to children of illegal aliens
Governor's Mansion completely renovated
Born: March 17, 1940, in Henderson, Texas
Early Career: White attended Houston public schools and Baylor University, earning a bachelor's degree in business administration in 1962 and a law degree from Baylor Law School in 1965. White worked briefly in a private legal practice in Houston before serving three years as an Assistant Attorney General. In 1969, he returned to Houston to a private practice until 1973 when Governor Dolph Briscoe appointed him Secretary of State. White resigned as Secretary of State in October 1977 in order to run for Attorney General. After being elected and serving as Attorney General from 1979 to 1983, he ran against and defeated Governor Bill Clements in the 1982 governor's race.
Accomplishments: During his term in office, White focused his energies on education reform (including no-pass/no-play) and utility rate regulation. White also concentrated on economic development and the appointment of minorities to positions on his staff and in the government. Texas' Sesquicentennial occurred in 1986, and the Governor attended and hosted a number of events. The Goddess of Liberty was restored and planning for Capitol restoration began during White's term in office.
Later years: White was defeated by Clements in the 1986 election and returned to private life after his term ended in January 1987. He ran for governor in the Democratic primary in 1990 but lost to Ann Richards. Today, he is an attorney and president of GeoVox Security, Inc. He serves on the board of trustees for Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene.
Transcript of press conference on no-pass/no-play law
Global warming demonstrated
Sally Ride is first U.S. woman in space
Aug 18 1983
Hurricane Alicia hits Houston, kills 21; Texas's first billion-dollar hurricane
Terrorist bombing kills 237 Marines in Lebanon
U.S. invasion of Grenada
First appearance of crack cocaine
No-pass/no-play law enacted
Apple Macintosh computer introduced
The Cosby Show
Mikhail Gorbachev comes to power in USSR, introduces glasnost and perestroika
Savings and loan crisis begins, leading to prosecutions, a massive federal bailout, and the demise of many Texas thrifts
Chernobyl nuclear disaster
Hole in the ozone layer reported
U.S. bombs Libya
William P. Clements had previously served one term as governor from January 16, 1979 to January 18, 1983. In the interim, he had served as chairman of the board of governors of Southern Methodist University, a time at which the school was rocked by a scandal in the football program.
Clements spent much of his second term dealing with the continuing prison overcrowding problem. He also was an enthusiastic supporter of the War on Drugs and other national crime prevention efforts. The recession in Texas continued to be severe, and Clements focused his attentions on job creation, economic diversification, and the recruitment of out-of-state companies. Texas was ordered by the courts to find a more equitable way of funding public schools between rich and poor districts, and considerable effort was spent trying to find a solution.
Later years: Clements retired from public life and made his home in Dallas. He operated two ranches in Forney and Kaufman where he raised black Brangus cattle. Clements died on May 29, 2011.
Poem from constituent on "The Beauty of Texas"
Houstonian George Bush is elected president
Pan Am 103 explodes from terrorist bomb over Lockerbie, Scotland
Exxon Valdez spills 11 million gallons of crude on Alaska coast
Tiananmen Square demonstrations and massacre in China
Berlin Wall falls
Communist rule collapses across Eastern Europe
U.S. invasion of Panama
First virtual reality games
Nelson Mandela released from prison in South Africa
Clean Air Act
Iraq invades Kuwait