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All Things Historical

Price Daniel


by Archie P. McDonald
Archie McDonald Ph.D.

Late 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 that career.

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 most disapproved.

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. Eisenhower.

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 January 1957.

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.



© Archie P. McDonald
All Things Historical
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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