Allan Shivers

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Allan Shivers
Shivers-p02.jpg
37th Governor of Texas
In office
July 11, 1949 – January 15, 1957
Lieutenant Ben Ramsey (1951–1957)
Preceded by Beauford H. Jester
Succeeded by Price Daniel
33rd Lieutenant Governor of Texas
In office
January 21, 1947 – July 11, 1949
Governor Beauford H. Jester
Preceded by John Lee Smith
Succeeded by Ben Ramsey
Member of the Texas State Senate from District 4 (Port Arthur)
In office
1935–1947
Preceded by Wilfred R. Cousins, Sr.
Succeeded by Wilfred R. Cousins, Jr.
Personal details
Born Robert Allan Shivers
October 5, 1907
Lufkin, Texas
Died January 14, 1985 (age 77)
Austin, Texas
Resting place Texas State Cemetery

Austin, Texas

Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Marialice Shary Shivers (1910–1996)
Children Three sons and one daughter
Alma mater University of Texas at Austin
Profession Lawyer
Religion Baptist
Military service
Service/branch United States Army
Years of service 1943-1945
Rank Major
Battles/wars World War II

Robert Allan Shivers (October 5, 1907 – January 14, 1985) was a Texas politician who led the conservative faction of the Texas Democratic Party during the turbulent 1940s and 1950s. Shivers also developed the lieutenant governor's post into an extremely powerful perch in state government.

Life and state politics[edit]

Born in Lufkin, the seat of Angelina County in East Texas, Shivers was educated at the University of Texas at Austin, having earned a law degree in 1933. While at UT, he was a member of the Texas Cowboys and the Friar Society, and he served as the student body president. In 1934, he was elected to the Texas State Senate, having become the youngest person ever to serve in the State Senate. He served in the Senate from 1934 to 1946, except for two years service in the United States Army during World War II, from which he was discharged with the rank of major.

Lieutenant Governor[edit]

In 1946, he was elected the 33rd Lieutenant Governor of Texas and was re-elected in 1948. He is credited with developing the "ideas, practices, and techniques of leadership" that made the office the most powerful post in Texas government, although the powers of the Governor are limited by the state constitution more so than other states.

In office, Shivers initiated the practice of appointing State Senators to specific committees and setting the daily agenda. Subsequently, the Senate passed a right-to-work law, reorganized the public school system with the Gilmer-Akin Laws, appropriated funds for higher education, including the Texas State University for Negroes (now Texas Southern University), and provided monies for improvements of state hospitals and highways.

Governorship[edit]

When Governor Beauford Jester died on July 11, 1949, Shivers succeeded him—the only lieutenant governor in Texas history thus far to gain the governor's office through the death of his predecessor. In 1950, Shivers won election as governor in his own right; he then set the three-term precedent by running again and winning in 1952 and 1954. In 1952, Shivers proved so popular that he was listed on the gubernatorial ballot as the nominee of both the Democratic and Republican parties, a practice no longer permitted. (Democrat Shivers handily defeated Republican Shivers.) He worked closely with his appointed Secretary of State John Ben Shepperd, who won election in 1952 and 1954 as state attorney general. Together Shivers and Shepperd tried to clean up corruption in the machine province of Duval County.

The Shivercrats were a conservative faction of the Democratic Party in Texas in the 1950s. The faction was named for Texas' conservative governor Allan Shivers, who was criticized by liberals within the party—particularly Ralph Yarborough—for his corruption and conservatism. The term was first used derisively by party liberals, who attacked Shivers and his allies in the party for backing Republican Dwight D. Eisenhower over the national party's chosen candidate Adlai Stevenson in 1952. Corruption during the Shivers administration damaged his reputation and endangered his chances of reelection in 1954. Land Office Commissioner Bascom Giles was convicted of committing rampant fraud against Texas war veterans, and a disproportionate number of African-American veterans in particular, through the a veterans land program under the Texas Veterans Land Board of the Texas General Land Office. Giles was the only member of the Shivers administration to go to prison, but Shivers and the state attorney general, John Ben Sheppard, as ex officio members of the Veterans Land Board, were implicated in the scandal, which occurred during their watch. The Shivercrats responded with a vicious negative campaign that tried to paint the party liberals as communists. Shivers also urged the Texas Legislature to pass a bill making membership in the Communist Party a death penalty offense.[1]

President Lyndon B. Johnson at first aligned himself with the Shivercrats (including John Connally), but after becoming president Johnson increasingly sided with Yarborough and the liberals on policy matters. Most of the Shivercrats either left public life or became Republicans after Johnson's presidency, as the liberal-moderate faction was in firm control of the state party after 1970.

In 1952, Shivers named the oil industrialist Bill Noël of Odessa to the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission. Noël was reappointed by the two subsequent governors.[2]

Shivers appeared as himself in the 1955 film Lucy Gallant starring Jane Wyman and Charlton Heston.

Shivers previously held the record for longest continuous service as Texas Governor at 7.5 years until June 2008, when Rick Perry surpassed Shiver's record for continuous service. (Bill Clements initially broke Shivers' total service record, having served eight years over two non-consecutive terms; Perry subsequently surpassed this record as well.)

Both Shivers and Perry are the only two Texas governors to have been inaugurated four times.

Shivers disputed the Truman administration's claim on the Tidelands and disapproved of Truman's veto that would have vested tideland ownership in the states. Bucking the tradition of the "Solid South," Shivers delivered Texas in the 1952 presidential election for Dwight D. Eisenhower—only the second time that Texas had supported a Republican for president since Reconstruction. The state Republican Party reciprocated by nominating Shivers for governor; he thus ran as the nominee of both parties. It is believed that Shivers lost popularity with some voters over his disloyalty to the Democratic party. He also became less popular because of his opposition to the Brown v. Board of Education decision and his link to the Veterans' Land Board scandal. Shivers did help enact laws raising teacher salaries and granting retirement benefits to state employees.

Post Governorship[edit]

Shivers did not seek a fourth term in the 1956 elections. He retired from politics on January 15, 1957, and went into business. In 1973, Democratic Governor Dolph Briscoe appointed Shivers to a six-year term on the University of Texas Board of Regents. He served as chairman of the board for four years. During this time he donated his Austin home, Woodlawn, the historic Pease mansion, to the University to help raise funds for its law school. In 1980, Shivers was instrumental in securing a $5 million grant for the U.T. College of Communications, which soon thereafter established an endowed chair of journalism in his honor. Finally, he served as a member of the University of Texas Centennial Commission, which oversaw the 100th anniversary celebration of the University's founding in 1883.

Allan Shivers monument at Texas State Cemetery in Austin, Texas

Shivers died suddenly of a massive heart attack in Austin, Texas, on January 14, 1985. He was survived by his wife, the former Marialice Shary (1910–1996), a long-time regent of Pan American University in Edinburg, Texas, three sons, a daughter, and ten grandchildren. The Shiverses are interred at the Texas State Cemetery in Austin.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Ricky F. Dobbs, Yellow Dogs and Democrats: Allan Shivers and Texas Two-Party Politics (College Station: Texas A&M Press, 2005).
  2. ^ "William Douglas Noël". The Handbook of Texas. Archived from the original on 15 July 2011. Retrieved June 27, 2011. 

External links[edit]

Texas Senate
Preceded by
Wilfred R. Cousins, Sr.
Texas State Senator
from District 4 (Port Arthur)

1935–1947
Succeeded by
Wilfred R. Cousins, Jr.
Political offices
Preceded by
John Lee Smith
Lieutenant Governors of Texas
January 21, 1947–July 11, 1949
Succeeded by
Ben Ramsey
Preceded by
Beauford H. Jester
Governor of Texas
July 11, 1949–January 15, 1957
Succeeded by
Price Daniel