John Connally

John Connally

Infobox US Cabinet official | name=John Bowden Connally, Jr.

order=61st United States Secretary of Treasury
term_start=February 11, 1971
term_end=June 12, 1972
president=Richard Nixon
predecessor=David M. Kennedy
successor=George Shultz
order2=39th Governor of Texas
term_start2=January 15, 1963
term_end2=January 21, 1969
lieutenant2= Preston Smith
predecessor2=Price Daniel
successor2=Preston Smith
order3=55th United States Secretary of the Navy 8th Secretary under the DoD
term_start3= January 25, 1961
term_end3= December 20, 1961
president3= John F. Kennedy
predecessor3= William B. Franke
successor3= Fred Korth
birth_date=birth date|1917|2|27|mf=y
birth_place=Floresville, Texas
death_date=death date and age |1993|06|15|1917|02|27
death_place=Houston, Texas
spouse= Idanell Brill "Nellie" Connally (1919-2006)
children= Kathleen (deceased as teenager), John B., III, Sharon, and Mark Connally
party=Democratic (1946-1973) Republican (1973-1993)

John Bowden Connally, Jr. (February 27 1917ndash June 15 1993), was a powerful American politician, serving as Governor of Texas, and Secretary of the Navy and Treasury under Presidents John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon, respectively. While Governor, Connally was a passenger in the car in which President Kennedy was assassinated, and he was seriously wounded in the shooting.

Early years, education, military

Connally was born into a large family in Floresville, the seat of Wilson County located southeast of San Antonio. He was among the few Floresville High School graduates who attended college. He graduated from The University of Texas School of Law where he was student body president. He was admitted to the bar by examination before he graduated from law school.

Connally served in the United States Navy during World War II, first as an aide to James V. Forrestal, then as part of the planning staff for the invasion of Africa by General Dwight D. Eisenhower. He transferred to the South Pacific Theater, where he served with distinction. He was a fighter-plane director aboard the aircraft carrier "USS Essex" and won a Bronze Star for bravery. He was shifted to another carrier, the "USS Bennington" and won a Legion of Merit. He was also involved in the campaigns in the Gilbert, Marshall, Ryukyu, and Philippine islands. He was discharged in 1946 at the rank of lieutenant commander. [Charles Ashman, "Connally: The Adventures of Big Bad John", New York: William Morrow Company, 1974, p. 62]

On his release from the Navy, Connally practiced law but soon returned to Washington, D.C. to serve as a key aide to Lyndon Baines Johnson, when LBJ was a Congressman. He maintained close ties with Johnson until the former president's death in 1973. Shortly after that, Connally switched to the Republican Party.

Two of Connally's principal legal clients were the Texas oil tycoon Sid W. Richardson and his nephew partner Perry Bass, both of Fort Worth. At his death in 1959, Richardson made Connally co-executor of his estate. The designation provided Connally with steady income for years afterwards. In the 1950s, Richardson was believed to have been worth from $200 million to $1 billion. [Charles Ashman, "Connally: The Adventures of Big Bad John", New York: William Morrow Company, 1974, pp, 70-71]

Marriage and family

He married Idanell Brill nicknamed "Nellie", whom he met while both were attending the University of Texas.Facts|date=August 2008

The Senate primary of 1948

In the 1948 Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate seat vacated by the retiring W. Lee O'Daniel, Connally was campaign manager for LBJ, as the congressman opposed former Governor Coke R. Stevenson of Junction, the seat of Kimble County in central Texas. During the tabulation period, Connally journeyed to Alice, the seat of Jim Wells County in south Texas. Through "political boss" George Parr he gained a revision of the totals from Precinct 13. Some 203 names were added to the LBJ tabulation, all signed in blue ink and in the same handwriting. Some of the names were of deceased persons. The list was thereafter burned in a fire. This change in tabulation plunged Johnson into an 87-vote primary runoff majority. [Charles Ashman, "Connally: The Adventures of Big Bad John", New York: William Morrow Company, 1974, p. 66]

Connally then persuaded the Temple publisher Frank W. Mayborn to return to Texas from a business trip in Nashville, Tennessee, to cast the decisive vote in the 29-28 decision by the Democratic State Central Committee to certify Johnson as the party nominee by the disputed eighty-seven votes. United States Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black had deemed that the decision in the Johnson-Stevenson race rested squarely with the central committee. [ [ Texas Handbook Online] , accessed 2 Jul 2008]

From Navy Secretary to Governor

At the 1960 Democratic convention in Los Angeles, Connally led supporters of Senator Lyndon Johnson. He claimed that John F. Kennedy, if nominated and elected, would be unable to serve as president for a full term because of Addison's disease and dependence on cortisone. Kennedy, however, had wrapped up the needed delegates for nomination before the convention even opened. Kennedy realized he had no chance of election without the Southern Democratic votes held by Johnson, and ask him to consider becoming his running mate. [Charles Ashman, "Connally: The Adventures of Big Bad John", New York: William Morrow Company, 1974, p. 74] (Connally's words about Kennedy not serving a full term would actually become prophetic, although not as he had originally thought and in a way that he would bear witness to.)

ecretary of the Navy

At Johnson's request, in 1961 President Kennedy named Connally Secretary of the Navy. Connally resigned eleven months later to run for the Texas governorship. He had managed one of the largest employers in the world, as the Navy had more than 600,000 in uniform and 650,000 civilian workers, stationed at 222 bases in the United States and 53 abroad. It had a budget of $14 billion. [Charles Ashman, "Connally: The Adventures of Big Bad John", New York: William Morrow Company, 1974, p. 89]

Connally directed the Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean Sea on a new kind of "gunboat diplomacy". The USS Forrestal landed in Naples, Italy, and brought gifts to children in an orphanage. Connally ordered gifts also to a hospital in Cannes, France, which treated children with bone diseases; to poor Greek children on the island of Rhodes; and for spastic children in Palermo, Italy. Presents were also sent to Turkish children in Cyrprus and to a camp in Beirut for homeless Palestinian refugees. [Charles Ashman, "Connally: The Adventures of Big Bad John", New York: William Morrow Company, 1974, p. 90-01]

Connally fought hard to protect the Navy's role in the national space program, having vigorously opposed assigning most space research to the United States Air Force. "Time" magazine termed Connally's year as Navy secretary "a first-rate appointment". Critics noted, however, that the brevity of Connally's tenure precluded any sustained or comprehensive achievements. [Charles Ashman, "Connally: The Adventures of Big Bad John", New York: William Morrow Company, 1974, pp. 95-96] There is a theory that Lee Harvey Oswald was actually shooting at Connally and mistakenly hit President Kennedy on 22 November 1963. Oswald reportably was angry with Connally for an unpopular decision he made as Secretary of the Navy. Oswald served as a US Marine.

Running for governor

Connally announced two weeks before Christmas of 1961 that he was leaving his position to return to Texas to seek the 1962 Democratic gubernatorial nomination. He would have to compete against the incumbent Marion Price Daniel, Sr., who was running for a fourth consecutive two-year term. Daniel was in political trouble following the enactment of a two-cent state sales tax in 1961, which had soured many voters on his administration.

Connally ran as a conservative Democrat, having first defeated liberal Don Yarborough of Houston in the primary runoff. In November, he turned back a determined bid by the conservative Republican Jack Cox, also of Houston. Cox had run two years earlier in the Democratic primary against Daniel. Connally received 847,036 ballots (54 percent) to Cox's 715,025 (45.6 percent). In the campaign, Connally made an issue of Cox's switching to the Republican Party. Eleven years later he made the same switch.

Governor of Texas

Connally served as governor from 1963-1969. In November 1963, Connally was seriously wounded while riding in President Kennedy's car in Dallas when the president was assassinated. He recovered from wounds in his chest, wrist and thigh.

In the campaigns of 1964 and 1966, Connally defeated weak Republican challenges offered by Jack Crichton and T.E. Kennerly. He prevailed with margins of 73.8 percent and 72.8 percent, respectively, giving him influence with the legislature. [Election Statistics, "Congressional Quarterly's Guide to U.S. Elections", Gubernatorial elections]

In 1965, Connally appointed House Speaker Byron M. Tunnell to the Texas Railroad Commission, on the retirement of 32-year veteran Ernest O. Thompson. This appointment enabled Ben Barnes to succeed Tunnell and become the youngest Speaker in Texas history.

During the Vietnam War, Connally hawkishly urged Johnson to "finish" the engagement by any military means necessary. Johnson, however, was more moderate in his fighting of the war than Connally advised him.

ecretary of the Treasury

In 1971, Republican President Nixon appointed the then Democrat Connally as Treasury Secretary. Connally that year famously told a delegation of Europeans worried about exchange rate fluctuations that the dollar is "our currency, but your problem." [ [] ]

Secretary Connally defended a $50 billon increase in the debt ceiling and a $35 to $40 billion budget deficit as an essential "fiscal stimulus" at a time when five million Americans were unemployed. He unveiled Nixon's program of raising the price of gold and formally devaluing the dollar—finally leaving the old gold standard. Prices continued to increase during 1971, and Nixon allowed wage and price guidelines, which Congress had authorized on a stand-by basis, to be implemented. Connally later shied away from his role in recommending the failed wage and price controls. Connally announced guaranteed loans for the ailing Lockheed aircraft company. He fought a lonely battle too against growing balance-of-payment problems with the nation's trading partners. He also undertook important foreign diplomatic trips for Nixon through his role as Treasury Secretary. [Charles Ashman, "Connally: The Adventures of Big Bad John", New York: William Morrow Company, 1974, pp. 246-249]

Democrats for Nixon

Connally stepped down as treasury secretary in 1972 to head "Democrats for Nixon", a group funded by Republicans. Connally's old mentor, Lyndon Johnson, stood behind Democratic presidential nominee George S. McGovern of South Dakota, although McGovern had long opposed Johnson's foreign and defense policies. It was the first time that Connally and Johnson were on opposite sides of a general election campaign. Some evidence suggests that Connally was "privately" for Eisenhower in 1952 and 1956, instead of the Democrat candidate Adlai E. Stevenson of Illinois.

In the 1972 U.S. Senate election in Texas, Connally endorsed the Democrat Harold Barefoot Sanders of Dallas, rather than the Republican incumbent John G. Tower, also of Dallas. Connally had considered running against Tower in 1966, but chose to run for a third term as governor.

Tower, Nixon's choice in the Senate race, won handily over Sanders, but the Republican candidate for governor, Henry Grover of Houston, a victim of intraparty maneuvering, fell short and lost to Democrat Dolph Briscoe of Uvalde in the southern portion of the Texas Hill Country.

In January 1973, Lyndon Johnson died of heart disease. He and Connally had been friends since 1938. Connally took part in eulogizing Johnson during interment services at the LBJ Ranch in Gillespie County, along with Billy Graham, who officiated at the service.

witching parties

In May 1973, Connally joined the Republican Party. When Vice President Spiro Agnew resigned that same year because of scandal, Connally was one of Nixon's possible choices for vice president. Nixon chose Gerald Rudolph Ford, Jr., the House Minority Leader from Michigan, because he believed that the moderate Ford could be easily confirmed by both houses of Congress. Connally would likely run into liberal Democratic opposition. The weakened Nixon did not want a fight for the vice-presidential selection.

In 1975, Connally was accused of pocketing $10,000 for influencing a milk price decision by Texas lawyer Jake Jacobsen. At his trial, he called as character witnesses Jackie Kennedy, Lady Bird Johnson, Barbara Jordan, Dean Rusk, Robert McNamara, and Billy Graham. Connally was acquitted.

Running for President

Connally announced in January 1979 that he would seek the Republican nomination for President in 1980. He was considered a great orator and strong leader and was featured on the cover of "Time" magazine with the heading "Hot on the Trail." His wheeler-dealer image remained a liability. He raised more money than any other candidate, but he was never able to overtake the popular conservative front runner Ronald Reagan. Connally spent his money nationally, while George H. W. Bush targeted his time and money in early states and won the Iowa caucus. Bush thus became the principal alternative to Reagan.

Connally focused on South Carolina, an early primary state where he had the support of popular U.S. Senator Strom Thurmond, but he lost there to Reagan 55 to 30 percent. He withdrew from the primary race. After spending $11 million during the campaign, Connally secured the support of only a single delegate, the late Mrs. Ada Mills of Arkansas, who became known as the "$11 million delegate." Connally quickly endorsed Reagan and helped him win a narrow primary victory over Bush in the latter's adopted home state of Texas.

Connally and Bush despised each other. Connally said as much in a 1988 "60 Minutes" interview on CBS.

The later years

In 1986, Connally filed for bankruptcy as a result of a string of business losses in Houston. [ [] ] In December 1990, Connally and Oscar Wyatt, chairman of the Coastal Oil Corporation, met with President Saddam Hussein of Iraq. Hussein had been holding foreigners as hostages (or "guests" as Hussein called them) at strategic military sites in Iraq. After the meeting Hussein agreed to let the hostages go, and they were released.

Connally was known as an immaculate dresser who wore expensive and stylish suits wherever he went. Biographer Charles Ashman related a story about Connally's carrying a cigarette lighter in his pocket and lighting cigarettes as a courtesy only for very wealthy men who might be inclined to contribute to his political causes or retain him as a consultant on lucrative business arrangements.

In one of his last political acts, Connally endorsed then Republican U.S. Representative Jack Fields of Houston in the special election called in May 1993 to fill the vacancy left by U.S. Senator Lloyd M. Bentsen. Bentsen was appointed Treasury Secretary in the new administration of Bill Clinton. Fields finished fourth in the special election and left Congress thereafter. Republican Kay Bailey Hutchison won the seat.

Connally died in 1993 of pulmonary fibrosis, a progressive scarring of the lungs. John and his wife "Nellie" Connally were interred in the Texas State Cemetery in Austin.

ee also

*List of U.S. political appointments that crossed party lines


External links

* [ "The Handbook of Texas" Online]
* [ Historical TV Footage from Dallas TV Station KDFW] Exclusive television coveragendash most from the KRLD -TV/KDFW Collection at the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza
* [ InnerVIEWS with Ernie Manouse: Nellie Connally] (TV Interview with Nellie Connally)
*findagrave|4122 Retrieved on 2008-02-07
* [ Photos of John Connally] , hosted by the [ Portal to Texas History]

*Kelley Shannon, Associated Press, "Connally Dies at 87," September 3, 2006.

*Charles Ashman, "Connally: The Adventures of Big Bad John", New York: William Morrow Company, 1974.

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