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Texas | Columns | All Things Historical

ALLAN SHIVERS

by Archie P. McDonald, PhD
Archie McDonald Ph.D.

What governor of Texas was born in Angelina County, grew up in Tyler County, and graduated from high school in Jefferson County? And we might add, attended the University of Texas then moved to south Texas? Allan Shivers covered all these bases in his rise to becoming the state's chief executive.

Shivers was born in Lufkin on October 5, 1907, but spent his early years at Magnolia Hills, the family home located near Woodville. Shivers finished high school in Port Arthur after his father, a lawyer, moved the family to that industrial coastal city.

Shivers enrolled in the University of Texas in 1924, dropped out to work in a refinery for a while, then reenrolled in 1928. He was graduated with a B.A. degree in 1931 and received a LL.B. in 1933.

Returning to Port Arthur, Shivers opened a law office and soon won election to the state senate -- at 27 years old, he was the youngest member ever to sit in that body. In 1937 Shivers married Marialice Shary, daughter of John Shary, a prominent businessman and land owner in Mission. Shivers served in the Army during WWII, then returned to manage his father-in-law's business interests until politics called. In 1946 Shivers won election as Texas' lieutenant governor, and was reelected in 1948. While in office Shiver reorganized the way the senate did its business. When Governor Beauford Jester died of a heart attack in July 1949, Shivers succeeded to the office, won re-election in 1950, 1952, and 1954, and became Texas' longest serving governor until William P. Clements completed his second term in 1991. Even so, Shivers can claim the longest consecutive service as governor until present Governor George W. Bush completes his second term.

Shivers served in a time of great change in Texas. He helped create the Legislative Council and the Legislative Budget Board, which determines what legislation reaches a vote and how the state spends its revenue, improved retirement benefits for state employees; and reorganized the state's educational program.

Shivers also is remembered for strong leadership in the Tidelands issue, or Texas' insistence that state rather than federal authority extended over off-shore drilling operations for oil and natural gas. Over this issue Shivers bolted the Democratic Party in the presidential election of 1952 and supported Republican candidate Dwight D. Eisenhower because Ike pledged to sign quit-claim legislation turning control of Texas' tidelands over to the state. Democrats who followed Shivers to vote for Eisenhower were known as "Shivercrats."

Shivers later served as president of the United States Chamber of Commerce and chaired the Board of Regents for the University of Texas. He died on January 14, 1985.


All Things Historical Nov. 26 - Dec. 2, 2000
A syndicated column in over 70 East Texas newspapers
Published by permission.
(Archie P. McDonald is Director of the East Texas Historical Association and author or editor of more than 20 books on Texas)


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