Governor William P. Clements, Jr. - Official State Papers, 1st Term

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Governor William P. Clements, Jr. - Official State Papers, 1st Term


  • 1979-1983 (Vervaardig)


387 boxes

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William Perry Clements, Jr. (Governor of Texas 1979-1983 and 1987-1991) was born April 13, 1917, in Dallas. He is the son of William Perry and Evelyn Cammack Clements and the grandson of Oliver B. and Louise Norwood Clements. He had one sister Betty Clements. Grandfather Oliver came to Texas from Indiana to help prepare the roadbed for the Texas and Pacific Railroad into Dallas. He stayed in Texas when the railroad was completed and opened a livery stable in a community originally called Brooklyn but later changed to Forney. The business gradually expanded to include producing hay and trading in horses and mules, some of which he shipped back to Indiana where members of his family still resided. By the middle 1880s, Forney claimed to be the biggest hay market in the world.

William Perry Clements (usually called Perry) graduated from Forney High School at age 18 and decided to move to Dallas rather than stay in his smaller hometown. His first job was selling insurance for Fireman's Fund Insurance Co. Perry was active socially and met Evelyn Cammack whom he married in June 1912. By that time Perry had become interested in oil and became a broker in early Texas oil fields selling oil leases and participating in oil wells. By the early 1900s, Dallas was a rapidly growing city, and housing developments were begun within as well as outside the city limits. Perry and Evelyn Clements built their first house in what was to become Highland Park in 1912. A year later their daughter Betty was born. Highland Park was incorporated that same year with William Perry Clements, Sr. as one of the incorporators. Before long Perry and Evelyn built a second and larger home. It was here that their only son William Perry Clements, Jr. (called Billy during his childhood) was born.

William Perry Clements, Jr. (usually referred to as Bill during most of his life) attended school in Highland Park from which he graduated in 1934. He played guard on the football team that won the state quarterfinals but lost to Dallas Tech in the semifinals during his senior year. Clements was named to the All-State team. Throughout his youth, Bill Clements developed his love of reading, his interest in history, and his participation in Boy Scouts. He earned his Eagle Scout rank in August 1930 and has long been a strong supporter of scouting and has made large financial contributions to scouting in Texas. Because of his excellent football skills, colleges recruited him to play football at that higher level, but family financial setbacks during the depression beginning with the Wall Street crash in 1929 wiped out most of the family's money.

Thus, instead of playing football at Southern Methodist University or some other university the fall after graduating from high school, Bill Clements left Highland Park two days after graduating from high school and headed for the south Texas oil fields to work as a roughneck. He earned $150 per month, two-thirds of which he sent home to support his family. His father got a job a year later, so Bill could leave the oilfields and go to college. He enrolled at Southern Methodist University to study engineering and play football under coach Matty Bell.

An attack of appendicitis kept him off the team for the 1935 season. Clements and Bell did not get along, so in 1936 he transferred to the University of Texas. There he met Pauline Allen Gill, whom he married on April 6, 1940, and encountered more conflicts with a coach who wanted him to play in the backfield instead of the line. By then Clements had lost his interest in football and had become tired of college life. As graduate engineers could earn only $110 a month while oilfield roughnecks could earn $180 a month, Clements chose to start living in the oilfields at that level. Many years later he told his biographer that going to the oilfields was like getting a Ph.D. in life.

Trinity Drilling Company sent him to Edna near Victoria, Texas where they had 10 rigs working. He worked initially with driller Z. A. "Boliver" Sloan and Bruce Shanklin who taught him all about running a drilling rig. This was the beginning of a long-term relationship for the three men.

After a short stint with Trinity Drilling Company, Clements took a job with Oil Well Supply to learn more about the technology of drilling and the machinery used. After a brief period, he became a field engineer at Jennings, Louisiana. Soon thereafter the company sent him to Jackson, Mississippi where it appeared a boom was in the making. There he met I. P. "Ike" LaRue with whom he developed a long friendship and working relationship. When World War II broke out, Clements wanted to participate in the military, but he was kept from doing that when Oil Well Supply named him one of the six deferments it was granted by the federal government. Oil Well Supply completed numerous construction projects during World War II in Texas, Oklahoma, Colorado, and New Mexico with Clements as a construction supervisor.

During the first decade of their marriage, Bill and Pauline Clements moved thirteen times. Their two children, Ben Gill and Nancy were born in 1941 and 1942. They moved to several places in Texas as well as to Alberta, Canada. This marriage ended in divorce in 1975. Clements later married Rita Crocker Bass.

By the end of the war in 1945, Clements was well on his way up the company ladder of Oil Well Supply, but that changed quickly when his old friend "Ike" LaRue called in late November 1946 to ask Clements to join him in starting a drilling company. He had made similar calls before, but this time he succeeded in persuading Clements to join him. Although neither of them had any money, LaRue was sure he could get funding from Toddie Lee Wynne, whom Clements also knew. Both men knew Wynne was wealthy. Wynne had been in partnership with Clint Murchison for many years, but that partnership ended about the same time that LaRue and Clements began plans for their drilling company. Wynne agreed to guarantee $100,000 with Oil Well Supply to make down payments and supplies for two used drilling rigs and another $100,000 at the First National Bank for working capital for the rigs. For this, he was granted a third interest in the company. Clements, LaRue, and Wynne each received a third interest. The company was officially created on January 1, 1947, as Southeastern Drilling Company (later to become SEDCO) with two used rigs. They got a drilling contract in Mississippi for two wells and completed the contract on both of them. Over the next several decades the company developed into a large and highly respected drilling contractor around the world.

In 1950 Clements moved his family back to Dallas and bought a house in University Park. That same year he and LaRue bought Toddie Lee Wynne's one-third interest in the company for $83,000. Five years later Clements purchased LaRue's half interest for $1.2 million. By this time Southeastern Drilling was operating in India, West Pakistan, and East Pakistan. Three years later they had expanded in Iran and the neutral zone between Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. In 1960 they began a project to drill 1,000 wells in Argentina and completed the project in three years. In 1965 Southeastern Drilling became publicly owned and was listed in the national over-the-counter market. That same year they decided to specialize in deepwater drilling. Over the next five years, they acquired other companies and worked on designing new types of deepwater drilling rigs. In 1969 the company changed its name to SEDCO and its stock began to be traded on the New York Stock Exchange. Two years later it moved its offices to the restored Cumberland Hill School building on North Akard Street in Dallas. Over the next decade, SEDCO continued to work at developing new and better deepwater drilling rigs for use around the world and to acquire other companies. An economic downturn for the entire country in the early 1980s turned the oil business from boom to bust. In 1984 SEDCO was sold to Schlumberger Limited for $1.2 billion.

Among the companies acquired by Southeastern Drilling and later SEDCO were Baylor Company, a Houston company specializing in sophisticated electrical equipment for offshore drilling; Earl and Wright, a San Francisco engineering firm; and Houston Contracting Company, the largest cross-country pipeline company. SEDCO also acquired an investment position in Delhi International Oil Corp. and Marathon Oil Company. Those stocks were sold after only one year at a profit of $316 million.

For much of its history SEDCO was at the forefront of developing new and more sophisticated drilling rigs to drill deeper and in deeper water for use all over the world. The list of new rigs developed and constructed is long and impressive. Shortly before SEDCO was sold to Schlumberger Limited, it contracted to the Texas A&M University Research Foundation for a dynamically positioned drillship to be used in an ocean drilling program to explore the ocean basins and study how the earth was formed and developed. The program was funded by the National Science Foundation.

Two decades before Clements left the oil drilling business he made his first entry into the political arena. Peter O'Donnell, Chairman of the Republican Party of Texas asked him to run for the U. S. Senate. Clements recruited George Bush to run instead and served as Bush's state finance chairman in 1964. Four years later Clements raised money in Texas for Richard Nixon's presidential campaign. In1969 Nixon appointed him to the Blue Ribbon Defense Panel. In 1972 Clements co-chaired the Texas Committee to Re-Elect Richard Nixon. In January 1973 Nixon appointed Clements Deputy Secretary of Defense, a post he held until January 1977. In November 1977 Clements became a candidate for the Republican Party's nominee for Governor of Texas. He won the Republican primary in May 1978 and defeated Democrat John Hill in November of that year.

Clements election as the first Republican Governor of Texas since Reconstruction was a major boon for the Republican Party. Now for the first time in a century, loyal Republicans had hopes of being rewarded for that loyalty by appointment to a vast assortment of posts filled by appointment by the governor. Applications and nominations for appointment flooded in as soon as Clements won the election in November 1978 and continued to come in through most of his four-year term. Files were generated on nearly 9,000 people who were considered for appointment as judges, members of licensing and regulatory boards and commissions, regents and boards of directors of universities, branch pilots, and members of numerous other boards, commissions, and task forces. Clements took a very active and strong personal role in this entire process. He had run a very active campaign and had met thousands of individuals all over the state in those campaign events and seemingly has the ability to remember those people. Of course, he also had a broad base of friends and acquaintances around the state from previous efforts to raise money for other candidates.

Before the end of Clements' first term as Governor of Texas, he was re-nominated by the Republican Party for a second term in 1981. The campaign against his Democratic opponent Mark White, who had served as Attorney General during that term, was a bitter one. There was a controversy between the two men during the term, and that strife carried on throughout the campaign. White's campaign was part of the re-election campaigns of U. S. Senator Lloyd Bentsen and Lieutenant Governor Bill Hobby. Thus Clements was running against major figures of the Democratic Party. Clements had been led to believe by advisors that he would win easily. Consequently, he did not campaign as hard as he did during the previous campaign. As a result, White won the election in November 1982, and Clements packed up his belongings and his records and moved back to Dallas. Texas Governors had been taking their records with them rather than placing them in the State Archives for more than two decades.

In 1986 the Republican Party once again nominated Clements as its candidate for Governor. The Democrats nominated Mark White again. It was once again a heated battle between the two party leaders. This time, however, Clements defeated White and moved back into the Governor's Mansion in Austin. Much effort during this term was devoted to solving the problem of overcrowded prisons. The legislation was passed to permit issuing bonds to begin a massive project of prison construction. The concept of privatization of prisons was explored and a program was begun to open such prisons in Texas. Additional effort was devoted to reducing crime and to carrying out the Texans' War on Drugs. By 1987 the economy of Texas and the nation had taken a serious downturn, which in turn led to the loss of many jobs statewide. Consequently, Clements devoted much time and effort to bring new business and industry to Texas in order to create more jobs for Texans. These efforts were quite successful. Many thousands of jobs were created, and the overall economy improved considerably by the end of Clements' second term in 1991. The Texas Department of Commerce was created to help coordinate the efforts to improve the economy of the state. Creating a new method of financing public education in Texas required much energy by Governor Clements and his staff. A federal district had declared the old system of financing education unconstitutional. Because of the many issues and the difficulties in finding solutions to the many problems, Governor Clements called six special sessions of the 71st Legislature in 1989.

Content and structure elements

Bereik en inhoud

This collection documents the activities of the first gubernatioral term of William P. Clements, Jr., 1979-1983.  Materials are texual and largely consist of correspondence, memoranda, speeches, clippings, agendas, plublications, reports, committee testimony, and press releases.


Conditions of access and use elements

Voorwaarden voor raadpleging

Open for research.

Physical access

Materials are stored offsite from the Texas A&M University campus in College Station, advanced notice is required for requesting the materials and access.

Technical access

Voorwaarden voor reproductie

These materials belong to the Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC) who retain copyright.

Languages of the material

  • Engels
  • Spaans

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Taal en schrift aantekeningen


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Geschiedenis beheer

These materials were in the possession of William P. Clements, Jr. when they were transferred to Texas A&M University.

Directe bron van verwerving

The materials were physically transferred from William P. Clements, Jr. but with these being State Records, the Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC) retains ownership of these records.  They are on deposit with Texas A&M University and the Cushing Library.


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Sources used

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Finding Aid Authors: Charles Shultz.


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