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Dolph Briscoe
27.    Dolph Briscoe

Born April 23, 1923 in Uvalde, Texas, Dolph Briscoe was a descendant of a signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence. His father was a close friend of Governor Ross Sterling, who once allowed young Briscoe to sleep in Sam Houston's bed in the Governor's mansion. Briscoe graduated from the University of Texas in 1942 and then joined the Army, serving in the China-Burma-India theater. He served in the legislature from 1949-57, where he promoted farm-to-market roads, which greatly enhanced the livelihood of rural Texans. He then left politics to manage his family's ranching and business interests, becoming one of the state's leading ranchers. He spearheaded efforts to eradicate the screwworm, a deadly menace to cattle.

Briscoe and wife ride in inaugural parade
Briscoe and his wife Janey ride in the inaugural parade, January 16, 1973.
Briscoe was an attractive candidate to voters seeking an outsider untainted by the Sharpstown affair. As governor, he took a conservative approach, concentrating on more efficient administration of existing services rather than adding new ones. He kept his campaign promise of "no new taxes" – the only Texas governor of the modern era to hold that line. He did back increased spending for highway improvements and signed into law the Texas Open Records Act, which protects the public's right to access to government agencies and records. He was the first governor to be elected to a four-year term with his victory in 1974 (previous governors had served two-year terms). Voters denied Briscoe another term in 1978.

Briscoe returned to Uvalde to manage his vast ranching and business interests. Today, he serves as senior chairman of the First State Bank in Uvalde and continues to be active in all phases of cattle ranching.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: link: Texas State Library.

Texas Politics:
© 2006, Liberal Arts Instructional Technology Services
University of Texas at Austin
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