Clements Jr., William P.


1975 TLS from the Deputy Secretary of Defense, twice Texas governor, to the Army War College Commandant, thanking him for making a colonel available to him for a trip to Saudi Arabia


Autograph ID: 6821
Condition: Very good
Description: “(1917-2011) Texas businessman, GOP politician, university executive. After making his fortune in crude oil, he served as Deputy Secretary of Defense 1973-77 and Chairman of the Southern Methodist University Board of Governors. Clements served as Governor of Texas for 2 non-consecutive terms 1979-91, his terms separated by the tenure of Mark White. When first sworn in in 1979, he became the 1st Republican governor of Texas since Reconstruction. He was the 1st governor elected to multiple terms since Texas changed its constitution in 1972 to extend their governor’s term of office to 4 years. He founded SEDCO in 1947, the world’s largest offshore drilling. In 1984, SEDCO was sold to Schlumberger, its assets combined with Forex, their drilling contractor subsidiary, under Schlumberger management, to form Sedco-Forex, acquired by Transocean in 1999. He entered politics as Deputy Secretary of Defense under Presidents Nixon & Ford and, in 1973, served as acting Secretary of Defense for 39 days, shortest term for any Secretary of Defense. Among the Secretaries of Defense he served under was Donald Rumsfeld, during the latter’s 1st tenure in the office; they did not get along. On Jan. 16, 1979, Clements became governor of Texas. He ran for reelection in 1982, but was defeated by Democratic Attorney General Mark W. White. Clements was damaged politically by the Ixtoc I oil spill disaster, the largest oil blowout in history, causing extensive environmental damage; the rig that failed was owned by SEDCO. Attorney General White led Texas’ lawsuit against SEDCO. In between his 2 terms as governor, Clements was chairman of the SMU Board of Governors in Dallas. He ran again in 1986 and unseated Governor White, hurt by the unpopularity of the “no pass/no play” policy involving high school athletics and proposed teacher competency testing. Clements’s 2nd term was marred by a startling revelation 2 months after taking office that the SMU Board of Governors had approved a secret plan to continue payments to 13 football players from a slush fund provided by a booster. The NCAA shut down the football program for the 1987 season, SMU opted not to field a team in 1988 claiming it could not put together a competitive squad. He did not run for a 3rd term and was succeeded on Jan. 15, 1991 by Democratic State Treasurer Ann Richards. In June 2009, he donated $100M to UT Southwestern Medical Center, the largest civic donation in Dallas history. On April 13, 2012, UT Southwestern Medical Center announced it was naming the new University Hospital in honor of Clements. The William P. Clements, Jr. Center for National Security at UT Austin was established in 2013 as a nonpartisan research and policy center.

TLS on 10 ½ x 8 Deputy Secretary of Defense letterhead, blue Department of Defense seal at top left, Washington, April 29 1975, to Major General DeWitt C. Smith Jr., Commandant, Army War College. Clements thanks Smith for making Col. Fifer available on short notice for Clements’ recent trip to Saudi Arabia, praising Fifer’s keen insights and his value on Clements’ trip.

DeWITT C. SMITH,JR. (1920 -1985) US Army officer, former deputy Army Chief of Staff, twice (and longest-serving) Army War College commandant 1974 -77, 1978-80. Joined the Army 1942, commissioned 2nd lieutenant with the 4th Armored Div. in combat after Normandy to the end of the War. Wounded 3 times, he was awarded the Silver Star, 2 Bronze Stars, and 3 Purple Hearts. Discharged 1946, returned to active duty in Korea and stayed in the military. He was an aide to Chief of Staff Maxwell Taylor, a battalion XO and commander in Germany, and served at the Pentagon before going to the Army War College. He led a combat brigade of the 1st Infantry in Vietnam. In 1970, under his leadership, Fort Carson, Colo. was made an initial test site for the modern volunteer Army concept. He retired in 1980.”
Type: Letter

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