in his life and career, I had the pleasure of knowing and working
with Price Daniel on a board that oversaw the work of the Texas County
Records Inventory Project.
Its object was to survey and publish the kinds and classes of records
held in Texas’ county courthouses to make their use more likely and
their preservation more probable. The better part of the deal for
me was getting to know Judge Daniel.
Daniel was born in Dayton,
Texas, in 1910, and attended Baylor University. He opened a law
practice in Liberty
and became a prominent attorney in Southeast Texas. I once heard him
say that he had taken an oath of office pledging loyalty to the Constitution
of the United States eight times. Let’s see if we can reconstruct
Pledge #1 came when Daniel was elected to the Texas House of Representatives
in 1939, where he joined the fight to block Governor W. Lee O’Daniel’s
"transaction tax," euphony for a sales tax, the form of taxation Daniel
Next came an oath when he was selected as speaker of the Texas House
of Representatives in 1943, and the third when he entered the Army
as a private and came out an officer assigned to the judge advocate
general, or legal branch of the service. In 1946 Daniel was elected
attorney general of Texas (oath #4), and he was the youngest state
attorney general in America. Daniel defended the University of Texas
in the racial integration case styled Sweat v. Painter, when Houston
postal worker Heman Sweat successfully sued for admittance to the
University’s law school.
He also represented Texas’ case to the Supreme Court in litigation
involving control of oil revenues resulting from production in the
"tidelands," or off-shore wells.
Oath #5 came when Daniel was elected to the United States Senate in
1952, where he sponsored quitclaim legislation giving Texas control
of its tidelands, legislation later signed by President Dwight D.
Daniel came home in 1956 to run for governor, the post he said he
valued even more than the presidency, won, and so took oath #6 in
Daniel served three terms as governor, and ironically, it was during
the last one that proponents in the legislature finally saddled Texans
with a sales tax. Daniel let it become law without signing it.
Daniel took oath #7 when President Lyndon Johnson appointed him director
of Emergency Preparedness for the nation, and finally, oath #8 when
he joined the Texas Supreme Court in 1971.
I asked Daniel why he ran for the Senate in 1952 when he really wanted
to be governor? "Because I didn’t think Allen
[Shivers] would ever quit running," said he.
August 22, 2005 column
A syndicated column in over 70 East Texas newspapers
This column is provided as a public service by the East Texas Historical
Association. Archie P. McDonald is director of the Association and
author of more than 20 books on Texas.
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