John Coyle White

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John Coyle White
John Coyle White.jpg
6th Texas Agriculture Commissioner
In office
January 1951 – 1977
GovernorAllan Shivers (1951–1957)

Price Daniel (1957–1963)
John B. Connally Jr. (1963–1969)
Preston E. Smith (1969–1973)

Dolph Briscoe (1973–1977)
Preceded byJames E. McDonald
Succeeded byReagan V. Brown
1st United States Deputy Secretary of Agriculture
In office
PresidentJimmy Carter
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded byJim Williams
Chairman of the Democratic National Committee
In office
January 27, 1978 – February 27, 1981
Preceded byKenneth M. Curtis
Succeeded byCharles Taylor Manatt
Personal details
Born(1924-11-26)November 26, 1924
Newport, Texas, U.S.
DiedJanuary 21, 1995(1995-01-21) (aged 70)
Washington, D.C.
Resting placeTexas State Cemetery in Austin, Texas
SpouseMary Jean Prince
Alma materTexas Technological College

John Coyle White (November 26, 1924 – January 21, 1995[1]) was an American Democratic politician from Texas. He was the longest-serving Texas Commissioner of Agriculture, first elected in 1950 and serving until his resignation in 1977. He was the youngest person ever elected to statewide office in Texas. From 1977 to 1978, he was United States Deputy Secretary of Agriculture. From 1978 to 1981, he was the chairman of the Democratic National Committee under U.S. President Jimmy Carter.

Early years[edit]

White was born in Newport in Clay County in north Texas. His father, Ed White, was a sharecropper. White graduated in 1946 from Texas Technological College in Lubbock.

Texas agriculture commissioner[edit]

At the age of twenty-five, White was elected statewide as the Agriculture Commissioner, the youngest person ever elected to statewide office in Texas.[2] He was re-elected twelve times and served 26.5 years in the post. He worked to smooth the transition of Texas from an agricultural to a predominantly urban economy.[2] White established marketing programs that served as models for other state governments. He was responsible for establishing a close working relationship with Mexican agricultural entities that had expanded markets for both countries.[3]

Deputy Secretary of Agriculture[edit]

In 1977, U.S. President Jimmy Carter nominated White to serve as Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. He was responsible for the implementation of national agriculture policy and was the chief U.S. representative in negotiations with foreign governments, including the Soviet Union, on grain agreements. White served during a period of great unrest among the nation's farmers. His calm and reasoned arbitration with disaffected groups resulted in several successful changes in U.S. farm policy.[2] White resigned his post in 1978, when President Carter tapped him to lead the Democratic National Committee.

Chairman of the Democratic National Committee[edit]

He helped the Democratic Party retain its majority in the 1978 congressional elections. The Republicans took control of the presidency and the U.S. Senate in the 1980 elections, but the Democrats retained their majority in the United States House of Representatives under the leadership of Tip O'Neill. John White was DNC chairman at a time when Democrats controlled the White House, the Senate, the House of Representatives, and a majority of governorships.

Death and burial[edit]

White died on January 20, 1995, in Washington, D.C. He is interred at the Texas State Cemetery in Austin, Texas.


  1. ^ David Binder (January 21, 1995). "John C. White, 70, Chairman Of Democrats in Carter's Term". The New York Times. p. 12.
  2. ^ a b c Texas State Cemetery|
  3. ^ Ashbrook Center, Ashbrook University|
Political offices
Preceded by Texas Agriculture Commissioner
Succeeded by
Government offices
Preceded by
United States Deputy Secretary of Agriculture
1977 – 1978
Succeeded by
James H. Williams
Party political offices
Preceded by Chairman of the Democratic National Committee
1978 – 1981
Succeeded by