Allan Shivers, Governor

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Robert Allan Shivers

Birthdate: (78)
Death: 1985 (78)
Immediate Family:

Son of Robert Andrew Shivers and Easter Sue Shivers

Managed by: Private User
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Immediate Family

About Allan Shivers, Governor

Robert Allan Shivers (October 5, 1907 – January 14, 1985) was a Texas politician who led the conservative faction of the Texas Democratic Party during the turbulent 1940s and 1950s. Shivers also developed the lieutenant governor's post into an extremely powerful perch in state government.


Born in Lufkin, the seat of Angelina County in East Texas, Shivers was educated at the University of Texas at Austin, having earned a law degree in 1933. While at UT, he was a member of the Texas Cowboys and the Friar Society, and he served as the student body president. In 1934, he was elected to the Texas State Senate, having become the youngest person ever to serve in the State Senate. He served in the Senate from 1934 to 1946, except for two years service in the United States Army during World War II, from which he was discharged with the rank of major.

In 1946, he was elected the 33rd Lieutenant Governor of Texas and was re-elected in 1948. He is credited with developing the "ideas, practices, and techniques of leadership" that made the office the most powerful post in Texas government, although the powers of the Governor are limited by the state constitution more so than other states. When Governor Beauford Jester died on July 11, 1949, Shivers succeeded him—the only lieutenant governor in Texas history thus far to gain the governor's office through the death of his predecessor. In 1950, Shivers won election as governor in his own right; he then set the three-term precedent by running again and winning in 1952 and 1954. In 1952, Shivers proved so popular that he was listed on the gubernatorial ballot as the nominee of both the Democratic and Republican parties, a practice no longer permitted. (Democrat Shivers handily defeated Republican Shivers.) He worked closely with his appointed Secretary of State John Ben Shepperd, who won election in 1952 and 1954 as state attorney general. Together Shivers and Shepperd tried to clean up corruption in the machine province of Duval County.

In 1952, Shivers named the oil industrialist Bill Noël of Odessa to the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission. Noël was reappointed by the two subsequent governors.

Shivers appeared as himself in the 1955 film Lucy Gallant starring Jane Wyman and Charlton Heston.

Shivers previously held the record for longest continuous service as Texas Governor at 7.5 years until June 2008, when Rick Perry surpassed Shiver's record for continuous service. (Bill Clements initially broke Shivers' total service record, having served eight years over two non-consecutive terms; Perry subsequently surpassed this record as well.)

Shivers disputed the Truman administration's claim on the Tidelands and disapproved of Truman's veto that would have vested tideland ownership in the states. Bucking the tradition of the "Solid South," Shivers delivered Texas in the 1952 presidential election for Dwight D. Eisenhower—only the second time that Texas had supported a Republican for president since Reconstruction. The state Republican Party reciprocated by nominating Shivers for governor; he thus ran as the nominee of both parties. It is believed that Shivers lost popularity with some voters over his disloyalty to the Democratic party. He also became less popular because of his opposition to the Brown v. Board of Education decision and his link to the Veterans' Land Board scandal. Shivers did help enact laws raising teacher salaries and granting retirement benefits to state employees.

Shivers did not seek a fourth term in the 1956 elections. He retired from politics on January 15, 1957, and went into business. In 1973, Democratic Governor Dolph Briscoe appointed Shivers to a six-year term on the University of Texas Board of Regents. He served as chairman of the board for four years. During this time he donated his Austin home, Woodlawn, the historic Pease mansion, to the University to help raise funds for its law school. In 1980, Shivers was instrumental in securing a $5 million grant for the U.T. College of Communications, which soon thereafter established an endowed chair of journalism in his honor. Finally, he served as a member of the University of Texas Centennial Commission, which oversaw the 100th anniversary celebration of the University's founding in 1883.

Shivers died suddenly of a massive heart attack in Austin, Texas, on January 14, 1985. He was survived by his wife, the former Marialice Shary (1910-1996), three sons and a daughter, and ten grandchildren. He is interred at the Texas State Cemetery in Austin.

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Allan Shivers, Governor's Timeline

Age 78