Dolph Briscoe, governor of Texas from 1973 until 1979, is the largest individual landowner and rancher in a state famous for its huge ranches. He is one of the most respected businessmen in Texas, with a portfolio that includes banks, agribusinesses, cattle, and oil and gas properties. His philanthropy has provided much-needed support to a wide range of educational, medical, scientific, and cultural institutions. As a member of the state legislature in the decade following World War II, Briscoe was the author of major legislation that improved the daily lives of farmers and ranchers throughout Texas. As an activist leader of the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association, Briscoe played a significant role in the successful effort to eliminate the screwworm, an age-old scourge of the livestock industry. As a friend and associate of a number of major American political figures, he has been an eyewitness to history. And as a governor who assumed office following one of the most far-reaching corruption scandals in Texas history, Briscoe played a crucial role in restoring public confidence in the integrity of state government.
Yet, despite his lifetime of accomplishment enriched with fascinating experiences, Dolph Briscoe has been a most reluctant memoirist. His intense modesty makes it difficult for him to talk about himself. Ultimately it was the cause of history, not the need for self-promotion, that persuaded him to give us this recollection of a life well lived. Working on the project made him realize that he had been fortunate in his life to do and see things of importance, and he accepted the need to document these experiences.
To produce this book, Don Carleton, executive director of the Center for American History, conducted a series of lengthy oral history interviews with Governor Briscoe. After each interview session, Carleton edited the transcripts to construct a narrative in the governor’s voice. Throughout the process, Governor Briscoe read and revised the text. Carleton’s only contribution to the final version of the text, other than editing, was to add a few dates and names that Governor Briscoe could not recall at the time of the interviews. Otherwise, this is entirely Dolph Briscoe’s personal story in his own words.
Table of contents
Chapter 1: A Product of the Land
Chapter 2: Hacienda las Margaritas and Catarina
Chapter 3: Cactus Jack
Chapter 4: Janey, the University, and the War
Chapter 5: Life on the Dry Frio and a Push into Politics
Chapter 6: The Texas Legislature
Chapter 7: Red Nunley
Chapter 8: Briscoe Ranches
Chapter 9: A Return to Politics
Chapter 10: Becoming Governor: The Campaign of 1972
Chapter 11: The First Term: Legislative Success and a Chicken Ranch
Chapter 12: The Second Term: Holding the Line on Taxes and a Tragedy in Huntsville
Chapter 13: Third Term Denied: The Election of 1978
Chapter 14: Life after the Governor’s Mansion