JBS Leadership Institute logo

 

Category Archive: Uncategorized

  1. John Ben Shepperd: Address to National United Church Ushers of America

    Leave a Comment

    July 25, 1954

    Address to National United Church Ushers of America (San Antonio, Texas)

    I am very happy to have this opportunity to talk to so many of my fellow American and fellow Christians from all over the United States, and to welcome you to the State of Texas. This is the second time your organization has held its national convention in our state; the first time was in 1940, when you met in Dallas. We’re flattered that you have come back again so soon.

    Yours is a very unusual association, and one of which you should be very proud. It is an organization of deep significance to our country. It probably does not give you a feeling of particular importance to be a church usher—but how many people in our country today are doing what you’re doing? How many American can be depended upon to be in church regularly every Sunday, extending the hand of friendship in the name of the Savior to the strangers within their gates How many American had rather do that than to be found every Sunday at the clubhouse, extending a golf stick or a fishing pole? How many had rather be as the Psalmist said “doorkeepers in the house of their God” than to piddle away their time and their country’s future in frivolous play on the one day God reserves for worship?

    Our country needs more people who use the family Bible as often as the family car. Show me a church-going Christian and I’ll show you a good citizen and a patriot. Religion and patriotism are like a man’s two hands. We ought to clasp them together in worship and put them together to the task of creating a better, more Christian country. But too often the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing. There is something wrong when a man’s belief in God does not impel him to do the things that make his country a better, stronger and greater nation. In many American homes the Holy Bible and the Congressional Record lie side by side on the living room table, but few there are who can cite chapters and verses.

    We need more people today who know the meaning of the phrase “God and country.” Too many of us nowadays seem to think that God and country are as far removed from each other as the prayer chapel is removed from the smoke-filled back room where they say presidents are made and unmade in every election. And yet, oddly enough, it is fashionable among Christians and non-Christians alike to speak of God and country in one breath, as though they were inseparable.

    Sometimes we go too far. Sometimes we put the emphasis on country instead of on God, as if to say that because Christianity is allowed to thrive under our Constitution, God therefore owes a lot to Uncle Sam. That is wrong. God doesn’t owe Uncle Sam anything. But you and I owe a lot to God for giving us our country, and you and I owe a lot to our country for giving us the right to choose our own God, and to worship Him according to our own conscience.

    For that reason it is good to talk to an organization like yours, made up of people who are not merely tipping their hats to church and waving their handkerchiefs at the institutions of Democracy, and who are not dropping their kids off at Sunday School on their way to the amusement park.

    It is symbolic that the National United Ushers Association of America was created in 1919. That was the year in which the national Communist Party was first recognized as a real threat to our country. In that year it was outlawed temporarily by the U.S. Attorney General, and was driving underground and almost killed. Its membership dropped from 80,000 to 2500.

    And while the Communist Party was thus dwindling away, this Ushers’ Association was gaining strength—an organization of people who have resisted communism tooth and nail. Undoubtedly, the Negro people have been a great disappointment to the Communists. A Negro friend of mine told me why. He said, [“]Communism hates God, and the Negro people will never forsake God.” The Negroes of the United States have steadfastly resisted every form of subversion and un-Americanism.

    It is also symbolic that this organization was born in Philadelphia, the birthplace of our Constitution and our Declaration of Independence. As if inspired by those great documents, the National United Ushers Association every year awards four scholarships through its Speakers Bureau to worthy boys and girls. This is one of the most constructive activities you could undertake. Any organization that looks to the training and education of its young people, bringing them up in the Christian religion and sending them forth with a head full of knowledge and a heart full of faith, is performing an invaluable service that cannot be measured until that day when all the deeds of men are weighed in the Master’s hand.

    It is also significant and inspiring that this organization is to unite all Ushers’ Boards and Ladies’ Auxiliaries of all Christian Churches into one grand organization, and to promote a closer Christian fellowship and social relationship among them. You can measure the greatness of a nation by the position it grants to its women. The freest and most progressive are those in which woman stands at man’s side instead of at his feet. When the Lord created Eve from a rib out of Adam’s side, I don’t think He intended for her to be treated as a side issue.

    The Texas Church Ushers are very proud to be host to the National Association at this 35th Annual Convention, and doubly proud to be a member of it. The Texas Church Ushers acted in the Texas tradition when they maintained their association as an independent organization for ten years after its founding in 1926, until they joined the national fraternity in 1936. As you know Texas was an independent Republic for ten years from the time it won its freedom in 1836 until 1846 when it became part of the greatest country in the world. Just as Texas came into the Union knowing from experience what it meant to fight for its liberty and maintain it, the Texas Church Ushers joined the National Association knowing what it meant to start from scratch and build itself into an outstanding association of Christian workers that has won for itself admiration and respect.

    As you meet here in historic San Antonio, home of the foremost shrine of Texas independence, I sincerely wish you every success. And as you return to your respective homes throughout the country, I send with you my prayer that the  heat of raging battles and exploding hydrogen bombs in other parts of the world may be reduced in significance by the warmth of the Christian handshakes which you give at the church doors of America.

    Please note: The views expressed in these speeches were those of John Ben Shepperd, and do not necessarily represent the views of the John Ben Shepperd Public Leadership Institute or the University of Texas Permian Basin.

     

  2. John Ben Shepperd: Ninth Annual Fish Fry of the Fraternity of the White Heron

    Leave a Comment

    June 20, 1953

    Ninth Annual Fish Fry of the Fraternity of the White Heron (Anahauc, Texas)

    All of us are interested in our terrific water problem in Texas or we wouldn’t be here. I wish I had the time to talk to you about various phases of it—about the Deweyvilles and Laredos, the gyp water and the withering corn, the farms and cities right here along the Trinity that are crying for water while almost six million acre feet of it flows past on its way to the Gulf without their being able to use it. I’d like to talk about the 60 million acre feet that evaporate unused, the 62 million that runs down our 11 major river systems, and the mere 7 ½ million we capture and turn to a good purpose. But these things are water under the bridge and not in the reservoir; you know as well as I that we have a serious and complicated problem of conservation.

    It is hard to get any real action on the matter. Interest in water is like interest in citizenship—as soon as we hold an election the public issues are forgotten, and a good rain has ruined almost as many water conservation programs as indifferent people.

    I wish I had time to talk to everyone of you, and to get your ideas about several basic questions. Is it within the state’s obligation to provide its citizens with a drink of pure water and a clean bath? Is the city dweller more entitled to water than his country brethren? Is one entitled to a green lawn and the other an irrigated strip? Are Texas industries entitled to enough water to operate at a profit?

    I think the answer is clear. With an average 30 inches of annual rainfall, Texas gets enough water to give every man, woman, child, farmer and industry a full share—unpolluted, unrationed, and inexpensive. But we do not have the means to catch it and hold it.

    It is easy to look ahead to a better day in Texas when we will be purifying salt water in large quantities, recharging and replenishing underground supplies, making secondary recovery, turning the rivers off and on at will with dams and reservoirs, and pumping water through pipelines criss-crossing the state—or the day when we will know enough about our underground strata to transport water from one section to another without pipelines. But these things are all down the road. Our problem today is what to do about the Laredos, the falling water tables and the withering corn.

    The number one urgent necessity today is clear-cut understanding among the various water authorities and agencies on all levels as to who is going to do what. There is too much bickering between the Federal and State government, between the water districts and the River Authorities and between the River Authorities and the Board of Water Engineers. Somebody in authority ought to call them together within the next 10 days, sit down, lock the door, and thrash it out. Too many cooks spoil the broth unless we understand clearly who is going to cut the potatoes, who will scrape the carrots and who will wash the dishes.

    It is imperative that we formulate an iron-clad policy toward the Federal government. Our water and our problem are inseparable; we cannot send the problem to Washington and hope to keep control of our water at home. There are some things we cannot do without Federal help, but we must know where to draw the line, and draw it.

    Laredo has shown us that the State of Texas is lacking agency with the power to act in water emergencies. It is hoped that the Board of Water Engineers, with its long-overdue reorganization authorized by the 53rd Legislature, will have the power to establish rules for emergency procedures. If it hasn’t, some state agency should be given that power.

    The 53rd Legislature passed eight water bills, among which was a bill authorizing the appointment of a nine-man Water Resource Committee, charged with taking a complete inventory of all our water resources and promulgating a long-range water policy for the state. Unfortunately this committee has very limited funds, but its formation has crystallized our problem into one paramount and immediate need: a complete comprehensive, state-wide water survey. How can we ever cope with our dilemma until we see how much water we have and how much we need? The committee is allowed four years to recommend legislation. But our problem cannot wait four years. We must have the information now that a survey would give, and the only way to have it is to get it.

    To begin with, the committee will need additional funds to pay its administrative expenses and to hire the necessary experts to evaluate information. We’ll have to get them. In Texas there are hundreds of endowed foundations, industrial research agencies, organizations and private citizens who want good water enough to help pay for finding it. There are ways of raising money besides taxation.

    Second, the committee will help. Let every mayor and county judge form a water resources committee to work under the nine-man board on the local county level. There are instances in which cities have cooperated financially with the Board of Water Engineers and the Federal Government to make their own water surveys with gratifying results. It would be a real contribution if every city would merely find out the source of its underground water supply. The cities whose people know where their water comes from can be counted on the fingers of your hands.

    Every city and county has some kind of Constitutional or statutory authority to take stock of its needs and deficiencies. Let each of them do everything within is statutory power to procure information. County Agents and Vocational Agriculture teachers could immediately survey terracing and materially assist in formulating a water conservation policy for every county in Texas.

    Third, let all of our water conservation authorities, including water control and conservation districts, fresh water supply districts, flood control districts, drainage districts, navigation districts and others review their own data, summarize their files and report facts to the state committee.

    Fourth, let every river authority re-evaluate its potentials and find out its ability to meet the farm, city, and industrial requirements in its watershed and report the amount of surplus or deficiency.

    Fifth, let every State and Federal agency even remotely connected with water come to the aid of the Resource Committee immediately. Let the newly-created Pollution advisory [sic] Board find out how much water would be made available in pollution were brought under control. The Attorney General’s Office, for one, recognizing the importance of quick conservation measures, set up a Water Division January 1 to cope with water problems, and is ready to help with all the information and legal advice at its command.

    Sixth, if the Resources Committee needs engineers, let industry provide them. Let some of the millions of dollars being spent by private enterprise for water research be put into an overall survey.

    Four years is a long time. We can cut it in to a fraction if we pull together. But let’s leave the politics out of it. Let every water-worried Texan be a fact-finder, not a lobbyist. Politics, like oil, will not mix with water.

    When we get the facts they ought to show us whether it is even possible to have a uniform policy that will be fair to everybody. Undoubtedly there are areas of the state that will never have a better water program than they have right now. They may never have irrigation or industry, and if they are not going to have it, they have a right to know it.

    Our problem is too serious for divided efforts and too far advanced for further delay. It is my humble opinion that as soon as the work is done and practical long-range water policy outlined, we should ask the Governor for a special session of the Legislature to consider nothing but solving the water problem, and to stay in session until something is accomplished. It will not suffice to have this problem brought up in a crowded regular session, competing with twelve or fifteen hundred other bills.

    It is easy to say, “Yes, let the Water Resources Committee make a survey.” But bear in mind that in 1929 the Board of Water Engineers was authorized to survey all the underground water resources in the state, but has never been given the funds or facilities to finish the job. Until this year it was working with the same size staff it had fifteen years ago. The fact that the Legislature has set up a vehicle does not necessarily mean that it will run.

    The success of this venture depends on you and me. It is the greatest challenge for cooperative action that Texans have had in many years. Our problem cannot wait, and neither can we. Let’s get Texas back to the point where, when we speak of dry counties, we won’t be talking about water.

    Please note: The views expressed in these speeches were those of John Ben Shepperd, and do not necessarily represent the views of the John Ben Shepperd Public Leadership Institute or the University of Texas Permian Basin.

     

  3. John Ben Shepperd: Address to the Texas Water Conservation Association

    Leave a Comment

    October 13, 1953

    Address to the Texas Water Conservation Association (Baker Hotel, Dallas, Texas)

    When a man makes a speech he hopes for a sympathetic audience. But in this case I came prepared to give sympathy, not get it. I can sympathize with you on a double count: in the first place, I’m vitally concerned about our water problem in Texas; and second, you water conservationists are the forgotten men of the day, and I know just how you feel. Since the rain began to fall in Texas, even though it wasn’t enough, the public is forgetting you the way it is forgetting the tidelands. But, we still don’t have a clear title to our coastal lands, and we still don’t have any water. As many water conservation programs have been spoiled by a little rain as by public indifference.

    The problem is so complex and so immediate that it’s hard to keep the main issues clear. We ought not to get so lost in the needs of our particular area or watershed that we forget some of the over-all urgencies that we have in common.

    The state lacks an agency with the power to act in water emergencies. If the Board of Water Engineers, under its recent reorganization, doesn’t have the power to formulate rules for emergency procedures, some agency should be given that power.

    Among the various water agencies, river authorities, districts and boards we’ve got have a clear-cut understanding as to who is going to do what. In some areas of action there are overlapping functions and conflict; in others there is a no man’s land where nobody feels any responsibility. Exact functions and responsibilities among these authorities have got to be delineated without rivalry, jealousy, or misunderstanding.

    We’ve got to have a clear-cut policy toward the Federal government. There are some things we can’t do without Federal help, but we must know where to draw the line, and draw it. On the other hand, we’ve got to let the Federal government know exactly how much expect it to do.

    There was a lot of sarcasm recently about the supposed contradiction between our plea for federal help in the drouth emergency and our states’ rights attitude on the tidelands. This is a ridiculous comparison. It’s like saying that if you expect your doctor to help you when you’re dying, you’re not supposed to stop him from stealing the deed to your farm.

    To get something done about water, we’ve got to realize that our trouble is not just with nature, but with people. The kind of drouth we have is not just a question of too little rainfall, but the old problem of the spendthrift. It’s not what you get that counts, but what you save, and we’re not saving. Getting a water policy is mainly a question of changing the one we now have—a policy of “easy come, easy go.” There aren’t enough water-worried Texans willing to exchange a checking account for a savings account. We have money banks, blood banks, and eye banks, but no water banks.

    We must also realize that we can’t get a uniform water policy until we find out exactly how much water we have, and how much we need. We can’t expect a law until we know what we expect it to say. We can’t hope to have a law that commands this or that do be done, until we use the laws that allow things to be done. Every city, county, river authority and water district ought to use what powers it has to determine its exact resources and deficiencies, and channel specific information from the city water departments right up through the various levels to the State Water Resource Committee, so that exact data can be handed to the Legislature with recommendations for action.

    We have the law we need to do something constructive. It’s in the book. It is now a question of cooperative action on every level of government and among all water association and authorities. We need a pyramid of fact-finding starting on the local level and ending in a pin-point of information on which we can act. A water policy for Texas will have to start from the bottom up, not the top down.

    But we’ll have to leave politics out of it. Politics, like oil, will not mix with water. We’ve got to be fact-finders, not lobbyists. If each of us throws himself into the fight only for his locality, his group, his river, his watershed, we might as well make up our minds to live on a desert.

    If we really want to work together, as one great state, to solve the biggest problem facing our state today, we can do it—we can get Texas back to the point where, when we speak of dry counties, we won’t be talking about water.

    Please note: The views expressed in these speeches were those of John Ben Shepperd, and do not necessarily represent the views of the John Ben Shepperd Public Leadership Institute or the University of Texas Permian Basin.

  4. John Ben Shepperd: Graduation of Texas Southern University

    Leave a Comment

    May 31, 1954

    Graduation of Texas Southern University (Houston, Texas)

    Commencement day is a great institution. It is a time when graduates are happy, parents are proud, and professors are relieved. All three are inclined to think “there’s no feeling like this feeling.”

    This occasion is a custom of long standing, and it has come to be expected that the commencement speaker will talk about the future with its golden opportunities, creating a better world, living a good life, or achieving success—or he is at least expected to tell some great truths he has learned from life.

    I’d like to dispose of these things quickly. I believe the future will be here soon enough to speak for itself. If it brings golden opportunities for personal success, the point to remember is not only to strike while the iron is hot, but to make the iron hot with striking. I’ve heard it said that the man who sits waiting for things to turn up is looking at his toes.

    As for creating a better world, you undoubtedly will, because every generation does. And when it comes to living a good life, that is a question of character. You can mold a mannerism, they say, but you have to sculpture a character, and it is easier to sculpture a bad one than a good one.

    I suppose it is unthinkable that a graduation speaker should not express some great truth learned from experience. But as a politician, I feel the way Mark Twain felt—“Truth is such a precious article that I like to economize in its use.”

    I don’t mean to profane your graduation with too much levity. I just want to prepare the way for the injection of a note of melancholy. This is probably the last time your old gang will be together. You may come back to Texas Southern now and then in future years, and you may find the walls still echoing the strains of your alma mater, but it won’t be your voice that sings, nor theirs. The old familiar faces will be gone, and no matter how many students are laughing up and down the halls, to you the place will look empty, full of ghosts and memories. There are certain things you can’t take with you.

    What, then, have you received from Texas Southern University that you can take away? You have received an education. What is it worth? What can you do with it? What is this commodity dispensed from thousands of institutions of higher learning all over the country?

    The popular definition would say that education is the training of the mind. That definition may satisfy the Russian, but it will not do for an American.

    In a country like ours education has to be the training of the whole individual, and a whole individual is composed of many more things than a mind. Sometimes, looking at a college freshman, it seems that an individual may be composed of everything but a mind. Men are not yet fully rational beings; our actions are often motivated by emotional and physiological impulses[.] A doctor of philosophy is not incapable of a hatchet murder, and a psychology professor cannot always explain his impulse to outrun a traffic cop.

    The object of education, therefore, is wisdom—the wisdom to live happily and govern oneself. It is a question of educating not only the mind, but also the heart and the backbone. Wisdom is nothing in the world but character.

    The common fault of most colleges and universities today is that while they refuse a sheepskin to the student who cannot write a theme, they too often graduate with high honors many a mental giant who will not think responsibly. While they would never graduate a man or woman who couldn’t read, they heap diplomas upon people who will not read an editorial. They flunk that student who cannot understand Chaucer, but pass the one who professes to be mystified by the simplest problems of American government.

    But I don’t lay it all on the poor student. The philosopher George Santayana said that the great difficulty in education today is to get experience out of ideas. We all know what it means to sit at the feet of a professor full of theory and precept but devoid of example. Many a student who doesn’t care for Latin and Greek is ejected from the classroom, yet there are thousands of university professors in the nation who recoil from the responsibility to keep up with public affairs and help their students to understand how theoretical knowledge applies to the world they live in.

    The university that amounts to anything strives for the education of the whole individual. It realizes that the world is not in a state of nerves today for lack of brilliant minds, but because it cannot be sure of the basic morality and responsibility of its geniuses. Too many brilliant minds are thinking brilliant falsehoods.

    I’m thinking primarily of communism. Communism is not peculiar to any particular class, faction or educational level. It filters into the ranks of the learned and the unlearned, the high and the humble, because it appeals to those individuals who are not educated in heart and backbone. It appeals to persons of little wisdom, weak in character, no matter how learned in mind they may be. Communism is the faith of unblanced,[sic] incomplete personalities.

    A responsible university works to produce not only morally responsible men and women, but also men and women with the physical vitality to exercise their intellectual abilities to the limit. While it has maintained the highest scholastic standards, Texas Southern has also developed a program of physical education and athletics that has made it well known throughout Texas and the South for its outstanding athletes.

    Texas remembers the victories of the Tiger baseball and football teams. We remember how you won the 1953 Exavier tract [sic] and field meet over Florida A. & M. We remember your victories at the M.W.A.A. Tournament in Nashville. We know of your outstanding basketball team, and the trophies it has brought home to T.S.U.

    Texas Southern also boasts some of the most outstanding scholars and administrators. You are very fortunate to have had the benefit of their instruction and guidance.

    But the most inspiring and most important aspect of training at Texas Southern is the atmosphere of christian [sic] dignity to be found among its students. This is possible only when professors and students alike carry their religion into every classroom. Only a mind that is grounded in eternal truths is equipped to sift the philosophies of Freud, Darwin, Spinoza, Descartes, and others, keeping the kernels of great though[t] and throwing the chaff away. And only such a mind is able to sift out the wheat from the everyday experiences of life, of business, and of human relation, discarding the worthless, the false, and the dangerous.

    I am confident that in acquiring knowledge you have also acquired understanding—that you have come to the realization that a head full of facts and precepts does not necessarily constitute an education. As Thomas Mann put it in his ten commandments for educators, we must get rid of the idea that a college degree, by itself, means anything. Perhaps that is why we wear these gowns and mortar boards on graduation day—to symbolize that while our bodies are robed in great dignity, they are still topped with a flat head.

    It isn’t what you know that counts, but how you apply it. When a home economics major learns to can a jar of pickles and hold it up to the light to see if it is leaking air and is going to spoil in a few months, she has wasted her time if she uses that knowledge only in the kitchen. She ought to use it in choosing a husband.

    There are many wives present tonight who are proud that they did apply that knowledge in the right place. I think this commencement ceremony would be incomplete if we did not acknowledge their right to receive the P.H.T. degree – pushed hubby through. Many husbands, fathers, and mothers are also entitled to a share in the limelight here tonight; without their sacrifices this occasion would not be possible. And there are many of you [–] 59 in fact—to whom I would like to extend a personal welcome into the ancient order of the bootstrap. You are the 59 who worked your way through college—who lifted yourselves up by your own bootstraps—which is not an easy thing to do.

    Your professors are granting you degrees tonight in the confidence that you are not merely another crop of graduates, but 198 men and women of responsibility and character—55 men and women with post-graduate training . . . five lawyers . . . five pharmacists . . . 125 others—journalists, business and vocational specialists, science majors, teachers, and linguists . . . psychologists, artists, home economists and industrial specialists ready to move into the stream of progress in the greatest country in the world.

    It is incumbent upon you to leave here not merely with a head full of facts and a sheepskin for the wall, but with a sense of readiness for the part you will play on the state of life. Unless you have learned to think, you have wasted your efforts. Unless you have learned to lead, you have failed. Unless you have learned to take it on the chin and come back for more, you have spent your time in vain. Unless you have learned to work, you have learned nothing. Blessed is the man who has work to do and is able and willing to do it. To be able to do your own work is the final independence, and the final security.

    Please note: The views expressed in these speeches were those of John Ben Shepperd, and do not necessarily represent the views of the John Ben Shepperd Public Leadership Institute or the University of Texas Permian Basin.

  5. John Ben Shepperd: Graduating Class of South Texas College

    Leave a Comment

    June 1, 1953

    Graduating Class of South Texas College (Houston, Texas)

    Graduation day is traditionally a day for words—words of congratulation, words of good-bye to friends and classmates, and commencement addresses full of philosophy and advice. As for philosophy, it is like molasses—sticky; and as for advice, you have reached the stage where you had much rather give it than receive it, and after having to take it for a number of years without being able to fight back.

    Some of you younger graduates have your parents here looking proudly on. They are as happy as you are, because even though it might bring a tear to their eyes to see you passing into the full maturity of manhood or womanhood, there is something very normal and comfortable about a self-supporting son or daughter.

    And some of you are married already, and have worked hard to make a living and get an education at the same time. They say married students do better in college than single students. That is hardly surprising, since the married student is using two heads. He apparently is more clever than the single student to begin with—at least he has the sense to be educating two people for the price of one.

    Most of you are receiving degrees in law. I wish I could have talked to you before you took up the law as a profession. I could have told you 467 easier ways to make a living. I counted them up when I was halfway through law school.

    You ladies present who are the wives or prospective wives of lawyers could profit from a few words of counsel. In order to be a lawyer you have to learn the laws that are laid down; but to be a lawyer’s wife, you have to learn to lay down the law. Even then you have will never quite master some of the things you will have to put up with. You will have to bow and scrape to the boss, smile at the clients and the senior partners in the firm, and share a large part of your home with law books. You won’t be able to leave the kids at the office for an hour while you go shopping, because it is a dignified place. Your husband will frequently spend an evening away from home, always with a legal excuse. But worst of all, you will sooner or later have to cope with “the legal mind.” The legal mind is simply a propensity for viewing everything—your new dress, the breakfast biscuits, and even the baby—from the standpoint of whether it will stand up in court. It’s a horrible thing to live with.

    You’ll find your husband cross-examining the kids, “Where were you on the night before the algebra quiz?” and he will be constantly impeaching the testimony of his mother-in-law. It is difficult to run a home—particularly a home with youngsters—according to the rules of evidence and procedure, but you’ll be expected to do it.

    Some of you are taking degrees in commerce, and some of you are junior college graduates. But no matter what you have prepared yourself to do, you will find that your time in college will pay for itself with interest. The doors are opening to better, fuller living for all of you. You have made the investment which will bring you new economic benefits and open up new opportunities, not only for earning a better living, but also for enjoying life to its fullest. You have worked hard, and you have reason to demand more of life, because you have put more into it.

    I am confident that in acquiring learning you have also acquired understanding—that you have come to the realization that a head full of facts and precepts does not necessarily constitute an education. It is not what you know that counts, but how you apply it. For example, a great many housewives majored in home economics, and learned to can a jar of pickles and hold it up to the light to see if it was leaking air and was going to spoil in a few months—but they wasted their time if they applied that knowledge only in the kitchen. They should have used it in choosing a husband.

    Every fact you have learned in college is sitting on top of an important principle, and the truly educated person is the one who retains the principle long after the fact has been forgotten. Your professors have finished testing every aspect of your factual knowledge, but your principles will be tested for the rest of your life. For every man or woman who fails in life for lack of intellect, a hundred fail for lack of moral character.

    Whether you have studied to be a lawyer, an engineer, a businessman, a teacher, a housewife, a secretary or an architect, you can properly call yourself educated only if you have learned this: That life is a long course of study in living by great principles, and that only daily class attendance, not cramming, can prepare you for the final exam. An expanding mind, without an expanding soul, will only destroy itself. It has not been the purpose of this school to give you all the learning you will need, but to give you a capacity for learning, and a hunger for the wisdom that satisfies.

    But too many words spoil the dictionary. You are closing a phase of your life on which you will look back with happy memories; as you cross the threshold of a new phase which will lead to even harder work, higher achievement, and greater happiness, let me stand beside your wives, parents, relatives and friends at the doorway and bid you welcome. God bless you all.

    Please note: The views expressed in these speeches were those of John Ben Shepperd, and do not necessarily represent the views of the John Ben Shepperd Public Leadership Institute or the University of Texas Permian Basin.

  6. John Ben Shepperd: South Texas Press Association

    Leave a Comment

    April 24, 1953

    South Texas Press Association (San Antonio, Texas)

    Speaking to you in my present capacity is like coming home to see Mom a couple months after enlisting in the service. I feel like laying my head on your shoulder and telling you what I’ve got myself into.

    I believe you ladies present will derive benefit from a little talk about State Government and the Legislature, because of the season. It’s springtime, which means two things: The newspaperman needs to keep his eye on the Legislature and the laws it lays down, and his wife needs to keep an eye on him and law down the law.

    The life of a newspaperman’s wife is not easy. Her house is a house with a deadline. She tries to teach her children to wash their hands and their faces, and then papa comes home from the press rooms, and the example destroys the precept. When the kids go with him down to the office, they come home using quaint language which daddy always blames on the boys in the back shop.

    But worst of all, she has to put up with her husband’s “Journalistic Mind.” The journalistic mind is simply a propensity for viewing everything through newspaper-colored glasses. He looks at his mother-in-law the way he looks at one of his editorials—he wonders if it if will compete with the comics. He looks at your new hair-do and asks himself if it ought to be exposed to the public eye. He stays out late at night, and if you reprimand him, he starts screaming about the freedom of the press. I have even heard that when a newspaperman’s wife tells him there is going to be an addition to the family, he always jumps up yelling, “Who, what, where, when, why, and how.”

    If we had time, I’d like to talk to you about the Attorney General’s Office, about our 800 clients, and about our 1100 lawsuits pending in various courts and involving hundreds of millions of dollars . . . about the 47 attorneys and 45 other service personnel it takes to handle the volume of the our work . . . about the two million dollars a day in bonds that we scrutinize and approve for local government subdivisions . . . about the actions we are taking against a number of large corporations doing business in the state without a permit . . . and about the 1300 bills that have been presented in the Legislature this session, of which our office has drawn up 90%.

    I wish I had time to talk to you about the Law Enforcement Conference we held in Austin last month, as which we envisioned a Statewide Law Enforcement Team that would be the envy of the forty-eight states. The only answer to syndicated crime is syndicated law enforcement—the kind that will give the Law in Texas an arm as long as the criminal’s legs and as strong as his political connections. The people of Texas have a right to protection against the syndicated gambler, the usurer, the drunken drive, and the political feudal baron and his racketeer friends. As you know, proceedings have been initiated against a District Judge in South Texas. I don’t know what the outcome of those proceedings will be, but I do know that the citizens of every county in the state have a right to free and secret ballot and to have it counted the way they mark it. If there is any county in Texas where those liberties are being mutilated by political bossism, it is the duty of the State to call somebody to account.

    ______________

    The Continental Shelf comprises enough land area to cover one-fourth of the country. Who is going to own it? Who is going to control it and get the revenue from it?

    The State of Texas is not contending that it owns the Shelf beyond its Tidelands. We are simply pointing out the inadvisability of complete Federal control. We feel entitled to 37 and 1/2 percent of its revenue—the same percentage the Western states get from Federal lands within their borders—and we want the lands of the Shelf to be protected by the conservation laws and police powers of the States. Let the Federal Government own the shelf if it will, and take sixty-two percent of the revenue—but let us run it. We can do it better, and we can take better care of it. We are right here by it, and we have wiser conservation and leasing laws and more know-how. We can make it pay more and cost less.

    Texas has had more oil experience than any State in the Union or any other country in the world. We know what to do with oil lands. We contend that Federal development of oil reserves has been proved inefficient, slow and expensive; we contend that it is absurd to surround this country with a no-man’s-land that is not subject to the conservation laws or police powers of any state. Consider the ridiculousness of having two oil wells side by side, one just inside the three-league boundary subject to Texas conservation laws and sitting on land leased for a minimum of $5.00 an acre, and the other just outside the line on land leased for fifty cents, subject to different and more lenient laws—both of them pumping away at the same reservoir.

    The Continental Shelf is this country’s new, and perhaps last, land frontier. We must be careful to pioneer it under good laws, by efficient means.

    I’d like to talk to you about the relationship of county, state, and Federal government. As we know too well, Washington has set a record for centralizing the powers, functions and duties that properly belong to the county and local government. There seems to be a movement afoot now to reverse that trend—to decentralize and send back home the threads and pieces that have been torn out of the favric [sic] of Democratic home rule and sewn into the patchwork quilt of big Federal Government.

    It is the iron-clad duty of the local Press to see that these home-coming powers and functions get all the way back home. Too many of them are stopping in Austin. It is up to you who have a voice on the local level to see that they follow a straight line from Washington to the Corpus Christi’s, Cuero’s and Victoria’s of Texas, with no detours or stop-overs in Austin. These stop-overs are boosting the cost of State Government to three times what it was only eight years ago.

    Most of the people do not call Washington or Austin “Home”, and Government by long distance is not self-government. Democratic government begins to die when the major part of it gets so far away from the people that they cannot see those who govern them walking on the streets. We cannot all live in Washington or Austin, so we must bring Government back to the county seat, and restore the City Hall and the Courthouse to their place beside the White House and the State Capitol.

    Responsible Government is a question of the wide dissemination of public information. Access to public information is a Constitutional right neglected by the people and the Press, and abused by men in high places. Standards of secrecy have been set up in the bureaucratic circles that cover too much ground. There is a tendency to classify much information as restricted, secret, or confidential in the interest of security, but too much of it looks like security from the eye of the public rather than that of the enemy.

    The idea of classified information is inconsistent with the most elementary precepts of Democracy, and the Press must oppose it on the National, State and local level; it is the duty of every bureau, office and official to make information on its activities available, and it is the double duty of the newspaper to get it and publish it to the people, whether it is paid for it or not. No bureau or bureaucrat has the right to decide for the people what is or is not good for them; unless it involves human lives, secret weapons, or troop movements, there is no business in public office that is no the business of the public. With Democracy on trial, this is no time for drawn curtains in the glass house of public office, and it is the duty of the Press to keep them open.

    Freedom of the Press is not a mere freedom—it is a duty to the people. If the newspaper neglects it, it destroys the umbrella that protects the liberties of the citizen. Freedom of the Press is contested every day by men in high places. In 1950 it took a ruling of the Supreme Court to protect a publisher from prison for refusing to divulge the names of those who bought his books. Newsmen were barred this year from the Jelke trial. I am not contesting the issues, but pointing out that Freedom of the Press is neither cut nor dried, and never secure. It is a liberty to be exercised or lost.

    Governments used to rise or fall by the battle-axe, but now they rise or fall with the quaking of the printing press. Napoleon paid newspapermen a great compliment when he said, “A journalist is a grumbler, a censurer, a giver of advice, a regent of sovereigns, a tutor of nations. Four hostile newspapers are more to be feared than a thousand bayonets.”

    Your bayonets are needed today in the State of Texas. This country has created and maintained a free press; let the Press repay its debt with a free America.

    Please note: The views expressed in these speeches were those of John Ben Shepperd, and do not necessarily represent the views of the John Ben Shepperd Public Leadership Institute or the University of Texas Permian Basin.

  7. John Ben Shepperd: Texas Association of Public Accountants

    Leave a Comment

    June 15, 1956

    Texas Association of Public Accountants (Tyler, Texas)

    I want to talk to you about one of the most serious problems that has ever faced the people of Texas—or of this country. Last May 21 the United States Supreme Court annihilated the “right-to-work” laws of 18 states, including Texas, at least in so far as they apply to one major industry—railroads. This means that free, independent Texans can be forced to join a labor union against their will in order to hold their jobs and feed their families.

    On the previous April 2 the Supreme Court struck down the subversive activity laws of 42 states and two territories by saying that the Federal Government had exclusive right to protect itself from sedition, and that therefore the States had no such right—not even to protect themselves.

    Before that, the Court ruled that independent producers of natural gas were subject to federal regulation and price-fixing, in spite of their specific exemption under federal law.

    And before that the states were pushed out of the labor field, deprived of major sources of tax revenues, saw the doctrine of paramount rights creep inland from the Tidelands and navigable waters to include every little trickling creek on which the Federal Government owns a little frontage and suffered setbacks in their powers to regulate their own internal affairs in dozens of other fields. Supreme Court decisions and federal bureau edicts, like hammer blows on the anvil of time, are forging a future for Americans in which the states are to have no part. State lines are being erased. State laws are being nullified. State governments are being bound and gagged, and the people are being led into captivity to a Federal Government that does not wish to share dual sovereignty with the states that created it. The pattern could not be clearer if there were a pre-conceived plan at the bottom of it.

    This is being done mainly through the “Pips” doctrine of the Supreme Court—P-I-P-S, pre-emption, interpretation, paramount rights and supersession.

    It was characteristic of this trend that on May 17, 1954, the Supreme Court decreed that the states may not have laws which segregate the races in the public schools.

    It is unfortunate that this appalling departure from the most elementary Constitutional principles and basic legal concepts occurred in a field where the people of this country are divided on moral grounds. There are good people on both sides of the segregation question, acting in good conscience.

    But the Supreme Court decree was of such import, and the reaction to it so heated, that the people were impelled to take sides on the end result before it was realized by what dubious means the integration order was brought about. The people of the United States have been divided on many things, but there has been no division in the belief that the end never justifies the means.

    The means used to compel the integration was simple legislation by the Court—rewriting the Constitution, in order to invade an area of law clearly reserved to the states in the federal compact, and to effect a change that was in no sense legally obtainable except by Constitutional amendment.

    At this point there are a couple of things we ought to bear in mind. If the Court can legislate in this area, it can legislate in any area. The Constitution becomes piece of paper, and Congress becomes a body of impotent figureheads. Minority groups are now looking to the courts to gain their ends, instead of looking to the legislative bodies established for that purpose. Utilitarianism is being substituted for constitutional law, with the philosophy “If the method works, use it. The law is unimportant.”

    Putting aside all bias and all moral issues, is this kind of decision good for the Country? Where will it end?

    But segregation is only one spoke in the wheel. This isn’t just a southern issue. The whole, vast, many-sided trend has caused even the northern and eastern states to realize that it isn’t just the Mason-Dixon Line that is being erased, but all the state lines as well.

    There are four battle fronts in this fight. The first is the courtroom. We are going to continue fighting, case by case, from the lowest federal court to the highest. We will not allow a hungry bureaucracy to reduce state capitals and courthouses to the role of museums full of quaint relics of our past glory, or to wipe out even the memory of our dead freedom by making it appear that our fore-fathers intended these things to happen when they wrote the Constitution.

    The second front is Congress, which has the power and responsibility to determine the policies of federal agencies and what matters the Supreme Court can consider. It is the duty of the Senate to see that the men appointed to the federal bench are trained jurists who know how to follow legal precedent instead of their political party. There are now at least a hundred bills pending in Congress to limit the powers of the Federal Government or the Court, to require justices to have five years’ prior experience, to limit the matters subject to the Court’s jurisdiction, to prescribe rules by which the Court shall interpret the Constitution, and by many other means to safeguard the Constitution in spirit as well as in letter.

    The third front is the state and local governments themselves. The people demand governmental efficiency in return for their tax dollars, and they will get it if they have to go to the Federal Government or the U.S. Supreme Court to do so. Our state government is a hodge-podge of almost 200 conflicting and overlapping boards and agencies. Thirty-eight of them are headless bodies for which the responsibility is borne by a total of half a dozen ex-officio board members having no administrative authority. The Attorney General serves on 25 in addition to his regular job.

    State and local government is costing the people of Texas 4 billion, 447 million dollars a year. Is it worth it? The federal centralizers think we don’t need a state and local level. What do you think?

    The fourth and ultimate battleground in the fight for the Constitution is the people. We need more responsible businessmen, professional men, and especially accountants, taking part in local and state government and executing policies consistent with our basic beliefs—efficiency, economy and integrity. We need men in public office who won’t send for the Federal Government every time they have a problem. We need men who won’t get into public office through pull and then stop pulling . . . who won’t sacrifice a dot or a dash to the Constitution to get a dollar sign on the ledger, or submerge a principle to win a point . . . who won’t let Constitutional government die of cold feet because they were afraid to get into hot water . . . and who are never so concerned with the left and the right that they get it mixed up with the above and below.

    The greatest fault of the American people is our materialism and lack of real concern for good government. Half of us are trying to buy all the good things of life with money, and the other half is trying to vote them into existence.

    But who can open up a safe deposit box and file away a title to a Texas sunset? Who can lay gold on the counter and buy the look of trust and innocence in a child’s eyes? Can anybody dig into his pocketbook and buy a good conscience or a lifetime of proud accomplishment? No man can trade hard cash for the companionship of a true friend, or purchase at any price the love and devotion of a good woman.

    And all the money in all the treasuries of the world is not worth the south of a mother’s lullaby . . . or the laughter of a free man.

    Freedom is old, not young, yet it is born anew in the cry of a free man’s son;

    It is not a living thing, yet it dies if we do not love it;

    It is not weak, yet it must be defended;

    It is light, but it weighs heavy on him who is without it;

    It is without price, yet it dearly costs the one who sells it;

    It is not small, but great; yet once lost, it is never found again.

    Please note: The views expressed in these speeches were those of John Ben Shepperd, and do not necessarily represent the views of the John Ben Shepperd Public Leadership Institute or the University of Texas Permian Basin.

  8. John Ben Shepperd: 27th Annual Clinical Assembly of the American College of Osteopathic Surgeons

    Leave a Comment

    October 31, 1954

    27th Annual Clinical Assembly of the American College of Osteopathic Surgeons (Dallas, Texas)

    There is a powerful directional force in our Federal government, entirely independent of administrations, that has sponsored and continues to sponsor a steady movement toward the socialization of American life, through the gradual assertion of Federal pre-eminence over the powers of the states and the rights of private enterprise.

    One of the worst things about it is that it costs so much. Most of the States get back in Federal aid only 10 or 15 percent of all the money collected from their citizens as Federal internal revenue. Texans paid $2,727,000,000 in Federal revenue in 1953, and got back $227,000,000. That’s a dime on the dollar. Some states get less than a penny. California gets six cents, Connecticut two, Oklahoma fifteen.

    It is notable that in the last few years this movement toward socialism has not come primarily from Congress or the Executive Department, but from a series of court decisions pursuing invariably the same object—the assertion of Federal authority. Call it Nationalization; call it centralization; it is still Socialization.

    Let me give you two or three quick examples that are especially poignant to us in Texas, but which affect all of you as well. No. 1: The so-called Tidelands that were retained by Texas in her treaty of annexation, were offered to the United States in payment of debt and were rejected, and which were then taken away from Texas by a court decision and restored to Texas by an Act of Congress. If Congress had not acted, this would have been a giant step toward the nationalization of the entire petroleum industry of the United States.

    No. 2: The court decision in the Texas gas gathering tax case, which in large measure took away the right of any state to levy taxes on its own natural resources if they are bound for interstate commerce.

    No. 3: The decision in the Phillips Petroleum Company case in which the Court gave the power to regulate and fix prices on the production of natural gas to a Federal agency that did not want it, when Congress had stated specifically on two occasions that gas production was to be exempt from Federal control. This was another step toward the socialization of an industry and the erasure of state boundaries.

    How would you feel if someone told you that you could fix your own fees as long as you practiced medicine on yourself and your family, but asserted the right to set your compensation for you when you practiced on anyone else? That’s the way Texas feels. That’s the way every state in the 48 feels. That’s the way the soil and gas industries feel. It’s not private enterprise. It is Socialism.

    Maybe you think, “Well, it’s only gas and oil.” But it’s not. In the case of Garner vs. Teamsters a court decision went a long way toward knocking the props from under the states’ labor laws. I could cite a dozen other recent cases showing the same trend in other fields. But I’m only trying to say that what they can do in other industries and areas they can also do in medicine, one of the most important fields of all and one of the closest to the people.

    What would you think if I told you that in the Federal government there are highly trained and highly paid public relations experts who are paid to do nothing but to push the idea of socialized medicine? They are there, and they are working.

    How hard are you working for what you believe in? Are you actively joining forces with those who are resisting Socialism in other fields, or are you so busy with your profession that you haven’t time for such things? The only thing standing between you and Socialism is the American citizen and his opinions. He’s your problem. He has many things wrong with him, and it’s up to you to help cure him. Look at his symptoms:

    Symptom No 1: Lack of coordination. His left hand doesn’t know what his right hand is doing. He shakes one at the government demanding more economy and less socialism, and with the other he takes handouts from the public treasury.

    Symptom 2: Inferiority complex. He thinks it won’t do any good to write his congressman, because he wouldn’t pay any attention to a small taxpayer.

    Symptom 3: Mental depression. He worries about corruption and waste in high places. But he thinks he can’t do anything about it, so he tries to forget it.

    Symptom 4: Destructive tendencies. He tears down his home by not spending enough time with his family. He tears down the Church by not attending and supporting it. He votes to destroy democracy by not taking an active part in the processes of government.

    Are you the doctor, or are you the patient? It is time for us to diagnose and cure our country’s ills, or the autopsy will show that our Uncle Sam died of Socialism.

    I hope and trust that your convention will be a tremendous success, and that as you meet here with the object of improving the standards of your own profession, you will meet also with the object of doing what you can, as a group and as individuals, to keep your country and mine the land of free enterprise and the home of brave citizenship.

    You can meet here because you are free, and Texas is proud to have you here. I want to extend to all of you a Texas-size welcome and a Texas-size wish for all possible success, in increasing your skill not only with the scalpel but also with the instruments of free men—a Bible, a backbone, a brain and a ballot.

    Please note: The views expressed in these speeches were those of John Ben Shepperd, and do not necessarily represent the views of the John Ben Shepperd Public Leadership Institute or the University of Texas Permian Basin.

  9. John Ben Shepperd: Presidents of Minor Baseball Leagues

    Leave a Comment

    October 17, 1953

    Presidents of Minor Baseball Leagues (Dallas, Texas)

    As a result of a lawsuit recently the Supreme Court is now considering the question of whether baseball is a sport or a business. Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes ruled 30 years ago that it was a sport. I believe it is still a sport; and I also believe it ought to be run like a sport.

    Baseball is like Democracy. Democratic government begins to crumble when the major part of it gets so far away from the people that they cannot see those who govern them walking on the streets. And the farther baseball gets from the sandlot—the more it becomes centralized under high authority and operated on a vast scale from the top down instead of the bottom up—the closer it becomes to that same condition of top-heaviness that has ruined many a free government and many a great enterprise.

    At this meeting, and at every such meeting, you are faced with a moral obligation. Baseball belongs to the people. It is a national institution, and it’s your job to keep it a national institution. The role of the major leagues is that of inspiring the youth of our country to great achievement, and of providing an ultimate goal for which they can strive idealistically. The role of the minor leagues should be that of the bedrock on which the major leagues rest. The major leagues ought not to overburden or weaken the foundation on which they stand, and the minors ought not to forget that they function as the American youth’s stairway to the stars.

    I know that all you do here will be done for the good of baseball as a great game, a great sport, and a great expression of our national spirit and ideals.

    Please note: The views expressed in these speeches were those of John Ben Shepperd, and do not necessarily represent the views of the John Ben Shepperd Public Leadership Institute or the University of Texas Permian Basin.

  10. John Ben Shepperd: Men’s Club of the First Christian Church

    Leave a Comment

    February 22, 1956

    Men’s Club of the First Christian Church (Corpus Christi, Texas)

    Government is a very important factor in our lives, and there are certain things Christians ought to remember about it. It was Thomas Jefferson who first pointed out that this country was not in any sense founded upon the Christian religion. We believe in the absolute separation of church and state and complete freedom of worship, and churches of all faiths enjoy equal protection under our laws.

    Nevertheless no government can long survive that is not founded upon sound morals, and sound morals cannot exist where there is no religion. George Washington, the greatest force in the founding of our country, whose birth we have celebrated today because the ideals he believed in have proved sound, said: “Let us indulge with caution the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Reason and experience forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.”

    This was Washington’s way of saying that a Constitution, after all, is only an agreement, and a government can exist only so long as men abide by the agreement in good faith. And sometimes it takes real religion to live up to a contract.

    However, it is a mistake to think of Christianity as being merely one of the pillars that support free government. The Bible was written long before the Bill of Rights, and will be read when our political system is only a memory. I am not willing that Christianity should ever become a tool of democracy, and I don’t believe God cares to rubber-stamp the American way of life. But I think we have to admit that the outstanding success of the Christian Gospel in this country cannot be separated from the form of government we enjoy. To say that Religion owes nothing to Uncle Sam is as fallacious as saying that a flower owes nothing to the soil in which it grows best.

    Therefore I believe very strongly that an apathy, negligence, disloyalty or ingratitude on our part which tends to the destruction of our Constitutional form of government is as un-Christian as theft, lying, hypocrisy, crookedness or what-have-you.

    While I will not profane this Christian gathering by arguing politics, I will argue with my dying breath the Christian, Constitutional issue underlying the Harris Bill, the Tidelands, the loss of state highway and conservation laws, the forfeiture of jurisdiction over labor-management relations, and a hundred other cases in which the clear provisions of the Constitution have been submerged under the cloud of expediency, and the Constitution in effect amended by Judicial fiat instead of by the will of all the people.

    We have heard the voices of statesmen and politicians, oil and gas men, management, state administrators, legislatures, and private enterprise raised in howling protest against the dubious methods employed to change the Constitution—but nobody has stood up and declaimed that this is also a Christian issue, a question of simple morality. And that is what it is. Have we come to a time when it takes politicians to defend Christian ethics? We talk about what a boon it is to Christianity to have a benign form of government under which to flourish, and “America the Beautiful” is printed in the hymn books along with “The Old Rugged Cross.” But nobody seems to object, from a purely moral and ethical point of view, when a God-given principle is strangled to death.

    I am no prophet, but I am American and a Texan. I am the Attorney General of a sovereign state, sworn before Almighty God to uphold the Constitution of the United States and Texas, and I had rather be a dog and bay at the moon than to sit paralyzed and speechless while the Constitution of these United States is ripped to shreds for any purpose whatever. I could not have sworn to uphold that Constitution if I did not have faith in my ability to keep it separate in my own mind from the principles of any political party, church, association, union, organization or factional interest, and I believe the same effort is required of any Christian who enjoys American citizenship. If the Constitution of the United States is to be changed, let it be changed by Constitutional methods. Let the People decide how it shall read. If there is any Christian virtue left, or any fair dealing among fellow countrymen, let’s run the race according to the rules. Let us have open-handed honesty between political parties. If we have any Christian integrity, let us at all costs maintain the integrity of the Constitution under which we have been privileged to exercise so freely our Christian faith.

    Washington achieved a reputation for telling the truth, and he never spoke a truer word than when he said the existence of good government depends on the religious principles of those who comprise it. We cannot hope for Christian leadership unless we have Christian leaders.

    In this country we have established and maintained the idea that all men are equal. We have fostered the ideal of liberty and justice for all. It would be unrealistic to say that we have accomplished that ideal perfectly, or that we have always been in agreement about what our objectives are. The Constitution does not guarantee us against human frailty or difference of opinion. It is only a collection of rules under which we have agreed to strive for the perfection envisioned by the founding fathers. The Constitution is a means to a glorious end.

    In our striving for perfection we sometimes become impatient and are too prone to abandon the God-given means in order to achieve our ends more quickly. Wherever there are inequalities, either real or imaginary, there are also men who will strive to cure them in a hurry by un-Constitutional means. A man can be a member of any legitimate political party, differ with his fellow citizens in his political views and still be a Christian. But when differences of opinion lead to the destruction of the Constitution for the purpose of imposing one opinion on another, there is only one side for a Christian to be on. The issue ceases to be political and becomes ethical.

    In the last few years the federal government has expanded its powers, taking over many functions, jurisdictions and fields of authority formerly reserved to the states. I am not here to argue whether this is right or wrong. Outside the church I have my opinions, which you may have heard expressed in no uncertain terms. I am not here to argue the dozens of cases in which the Supreme Court of the United States has furthered the cause of centralized government, nor to belabor you with indignant outcries over the failure of the President to sign the Harris Bill, which would again have removed natural resources from the control of the federal government. When I came to speak to you as fellow Christians I left my politics outside, and I am asking you to forget yours until I have finished.

    Is it in keeping with Christian principle to accomplish any end, either good or bad, by ignoring a clear provision of an Act of Congress, or by violating fundamental principles of the Constitution under which free men have sworn in good faith to live honorably together? Does the end, no matter how good it may seem to some people, justify deception and breach of faith to accomplish it? Are these qualities any less reprehensible in government than in an individual? If the judicial branch of the federal government starts legislating by declaring what it thinks the law ought to be instead of merely interpreting the law as it is, does this have anything to do with you and me as Christians?

    Can the churches provide them? Can the churches give us men and women who won’t sacrifice a principle to win a point, and who are never so concerned with the left and the right that they forget the above and below? Can they give us men and women who are willing to pay the price of leadership?

    Being a leader means you have to be a sponge and absorb a lot of insult and ingratitude. It means knowing how to face hard, bitter and unscrupulous opposition with a stiffened spine instead of an arched back. It means having the courage to stand alone in the belief that you are right and the crowd is wrong, and often sacrificing your personal popularity on the altar of self-respect. And before it is over, being a Christian leader means that somebody will splatter your white Christian robe with mud and twist your halo around your neck.

    In the years ahead this country is going to need a lot of men and women who won’t get into public office through pull and then stop pulling . . . who will make their own records and stand on them, instead of jumping on the other fellow’s . . . and who won’t let Constitutional government die of cold feet because they were afraid to get into hot water. We need a whole generation of young people who are freedom loving because their mothers and fathers were freedom living. The future demands leaders from homes in which the family Bible was in as much demand as the family car. We need men who can follow their conscience and lead the crowd. We don’t need men who can stand on a platform; we need the kind who can stand on their own two feet and kneel on their own two knees.

    We Americans are inclined toward the inability to tell the difference between greatness and great success. We tend to judge the value of things from the standpoint of how much prosperity it brings. We need to remind ourselves often that the good things of life are not bought with money.

    Nobody can open up a safe deposit box and file away a title to a Texas sunset. No one can lay gold on the counter and buy the look of trust in a child’s eyes. No man can trade hard cash for the companionship of a true friend, or purchase at a price the love and devotion of a good woman. And all the money in all the treasuries of the world is not worth the sound of a mother’s lullaby or the laughter of a free man.

    They say that God deals with nations in the same ay he deals with individuals. And as our country and our state are faced with problems and challenges such as we have never seen before, and out of Washington are coming such classic, indicative and often-quoted phrases such as “calculated risk,” “brink of war,” “agonizing reappraisals,” “massive retaliation” and “terrifying implications,” Christian people are asking, “Lord, how shall we preserve our country?”

    His answer may well be the same that he gave to the young lawyer who stood up to tempt him, saying, “‘Master, what shall I do to inherit enteral life?’ He said unto him, ‘What is written in the law? How readest thou?’

    “And he answering said, ‘Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all they heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thy self.’

    “And he said unto him, ‘Thou has answered right: this do, and thou shalt live.’”

    Please note: The views expressed in these speeches were those of John Ben Shepperd, and do not necessarily represent the views of the John Ben Shepperd Public Leadership Institute or the University of Texas Permian Basin.

  11. John Ben Shepperd: Texas Regional Convention of the League of the United Latin American Citizens

    Leave a Comment

    January 31, 1953

    Texas Regional Convention of the League of the United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) – (San Antonio, Texas)

    Because of the many Latin friends I have, I have often asked myself the question, “What does it mean to be a Spanish-speaking Texan?” Although I am sure you can answer that question better than I can, I would like to tell you how it appears to me, and how it appears to many of my Spanish-speaking friends who have talked to me about it.

    The Spanish-speaking people of Texas are a unique group of people, for many reasons. You have certain economic problems that all Texans do not share. You have a language problem, which I am happy to say is steadily diminishing, but which is still prominent enough to bring with it also an educational problem and a social one.

    These problems are among those that I had in mind when I made my inaugural address as Attorney General on January 1, in which I said the people of Texas have many and varied problems, a number of which would come before the Attorney General for his attention and action. I said then, and I say now, that all of the problems brought up during my term in office, and requiring my attention, will get it promptly.

    However, you know as well as I that the solution to most problems does not lie in the field of legislation. There is not man or group of men in office powerful enough to eradicate them with a stroke of the pen. For the most part, your problems, like those of all Texans, can be solved only by you.

    This is one thing that it means to be a Spanish-speaking Texan: that with your particular problems comes also a particular responsibility—the responsibility of superior citizenship.

    What do I mean by superior citizenship? I do not mean simply obeying the laws and paying taxes. We all do that. I do not mean banding together in pressure groups to influence government. I do not mean “boss-ism”, demagoguery, and high-powered politics designed to life some people and push down others. Superior citizenship is a matter of individual thought, action, and responsibility.

    I want to ask each of you a personal question. When I ask it, I am not speaking to you as LULACS, nor as Spanish-speaking people or Latin-Americans. I don’t like that term. I don’t believe in applying a hyphenated name to any fellow Texan of mine—any fellow worker in the cause of good government and good Americanism. I am speaking to you as fellow citizens of Texas when I ask, “What are you doing in your government?” Superior citizenship demands your personal and individual participation in all community and governmental affairs, from the precinct to the presidency.

    If this country is going to survive the age that Communism and the atom bomb have brought us into, we must have more than people who obey laws and pay taxes . . . we must have people who vote in every election . . . people who write their congressman and legislator on public issues . . . who go to the meetings of local governmental bodies: the City Council, the County Commissioners Court, and the School Board . . . people who are active in civic clubs, people who are willing to serve on civic committees . . . people who will go to meetings of the PTA, serve as Scoutmasters, and do other things to help the teacher give our children brains and responsibility . . . people who will visit their public office holders and offer them their help and counsel . . . people who will make known their talents, abilities, and willingness as well as their complaints and problems . . . people who realize that they are the public and are responsible for government.

    I realize that many of you feel that your fellow Texans do not give you equal opportunity to serve your community, that they do not meet you half way in resolving the differences between you and them, which keep you from being as thoroughly integrated into our society as you have the right to be. In other words, many of you feel that you are doing everything, while the rest of the people of Texas are doing less than nothing to help you be superior citizens.

    That problem can only be solved with a superior kind of Christian patience. If you feel that others are not meeting you half way, you must go more than half way, remembering our Lord’s commandment: “If any man shall require you to go a mile, go with him two miles.” Christian love is the magic key which opens many doors. Genuine love is always answered with love, and yours will not go unanswered.

    But I don’t have to tell you about Christian love. And you don’t have to tell me that you know how to be superior citizens; I know you too well. I’ve lived among you, worked with you, and fought beside you. I’ve been in your homes and seen the wonderful family love that binds you together . . . I’ve seen what a profound Christian respect you have for your elders . . . . very seldom have I ever seen Spanish-speaking men and women in the divorce court . . . I’ve been in your shops and offices and seen how hard you work to strengthen our American system of private enterprise . . . I have been in your churches and seen how the love of God motivates your lives . . . I’ve seen how the Communists thought the Spanish-speaking people would be willing tools through which to foment Communism in this country, and how you repelled them like a brick wall . . . I have been in the Armed Forces and seen the Latin names written in the rolls of winners of the Congressional Medal of Honor: Marcario Garcia, Cleto Rodriguez from San Marcos, Jose M. Lopez of Mission, and many others. Nobody can tell you about patriotism or heroism. Nobody loves God and this country better than you do.

    The Spanish-speaking people of Texas have always been of tremendous importance to this State. But your greatest importance lies in the future. You are the link between two great cultures which meet on Texas soil. You are the key to the future solidarity and prosperity of the Western Hemisphere.

    God has placed you in a unique position—one which demands of you a supreme effort in citizenship and Christian living. You will find that the rewards of your faithful execution of your duty will increase day by day, but your real reward will come one day when the giver of all good gifts lays His nail-scarred hands on your shoulders and says, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant, well done!”

    Please note: The views expressed in these speeches were those of John Ben Shepperd, and do not necessarily represent the views of the John Ben Shepperd Public Leadership Institute or the University of Texas Permian Basin.

  12. John Ben Shepperd: An Address to the Mississippi LP-Gas Dealers

    Leave a Comment

    April 25, 1956

    An Address to the Mississippi LP-Gas Dealers (Gulfport, Mississippi)

    Texas owes an eternal debt to the great State of Mississippi for all of the fine people you have bred and given to our state. You gave us a number of the brave men who laid down their lives at the Alamo, and multiplied thousands of pioneer settlers. And not the least of the rugged trail-blazers who went to Texas from this section of the country was Judge Robert M. Williamson, a colorful character whom we called “Three-legged Willie” because he always sat on the bench with his six-shooter laid beside him, to discourage long-winded lawyers.

    Men like these from the Old South gave to Texas what Carl Sandburg described as its “peculiar and unique blend of swagger and valor.”

    But we have much more than that to thank you for. Along with the rugged, independent men and women you gave us a Southern tradition that has stood the test of time and trial by fire. It was a basic tradition, born of the calm, clear thinking done by free men in those heroic, wide-open days when a man might be killed in a tight scrape, but never by a tight schedule—when his major responsibilities were to plow straight and shoot straighter.

    The issues of life were sharp and clear to those men and women who as often as not buried a child every other Spring. When a man’s wife was sick, he didn’t get on the telephone—he got on his knees. Life was too short to be complicated, and it resolved itself down to the fundamentals. Democracy was simple and strong, not cluttered up with federal bureaucracy and watered down with socialism. A man had one flintlock rifle and one vote, and he used them both.

    It wasn’t easy on the pioneer women, either. They raised big families, and gave birth to their children without benefit of doctor, hospital or anesthetic. They made their own clothes, cooked for the hired hands, manufactured their own soap, chopped the firewood and hauled the water. And as if pioneering wasn’t enough to put up with, they also had to put up with the pioneers!

    The old days are gone, and the pioneers are gone, but they left us an ideal of constitutional government whose salient characteristics is a belief in a local autonomy—self-government at home. They taught us to cherish the right to keep government close enough for us to see the people who run it walking on the street. If we ever lose that, we have lost everything. We have lost the Constitution.

    This cherished system of decentralized, Constitutional government is founded on the ideal of government by laws instead of by men. And therein lies the greatest challenge to freedom this country has faced since its beginning; for this generation must decide whether we shall continue to be governed by laws instead of by men or whether we shall stand idly by and see our way of life suffocated under arbitrary federal pronouncements and bureaucratic edicts not born of the Constitution, but of the unholy union of politics and ambition.

    In recent years the 48 sovereign states have been divested of basic powers which were never intended to be taken away and reposed in the already too-ample bosom of the Federal Government. Adverse and crippling decisions of the federal courts have deprived the states of vital sources of revenue, have pushed the states out of many fields of jurisdiction, have taken away many of their powers to regulate their own industries and police their own populations, have pulled the teeth out of many of their highway safety laws, have left many of their protective labor laws emasculated, have virtually nullified a large part of their conservation laws, and have wrenched away from a number of states the control of their most important natural resources.

    To all practical purposes this began when the U. S. Supreme Court announced a doctrine of “paramount rights” by which all the states were divested of their interests in the lands underlying navigable waters within their boundaries, as well as the lands underlying the ocean within the historic limits of the coastal states.

    There was a great deal of controversy over that, you remember, and not all states were on the same side. But it wasn’t long after that when a decision in an Oregon water case brought the dark shadow of “paramount federal rights[”] over every little inland creek and bayou on which the federal government happens to own a little frontage, whether it is navigable or not. A number of Western states vitally concerned with keeping control of their inland waters began to realize what the Tidelands case was all about.

    One by one, dozens of other states began to encounter the heavy hand of federal encroachment on their sovereign rights through water cases, labor cases, transportation cases, tax cases and many others which consistently upheld the preeminence of federal authority. Many states, even in the North, are waking up to the fact that the goal of the centralizers is not only to erase the Mason-Dixon Line, but to obliterate all state lines as well.

    The most recent blow was a decision of the Supreme Court on April 2 in the Nelson case from Pennsylvania, which struck down the anti-subversive laws of 42 states and two territories in one fell swoop, on the grounds that when Congress passed the federal Smith Act, it intended to occupy the whole field of subversive control to the exclusion of the states.

    That’s the way the preemption doctrine works. The Court usually holds to the view that when Congress opens its mouth and utters an English word, it has preempted the whole dictionary, and the states must either keep silent or speak in another language.

    There are other doctrines, too. Under the doctrine of interpretation, the Supreme Court led the Federal Government into the field of public education, which has been traditionally within the sole jurisdiction of the states, and overrode 150 years of social custom and 105 years of legal precedent to declare public school segregation unconstitutional. This decision had no stronger basis in law than the theory that times had changed, and the law therefore had changed also, all by itself, while our backs were turned.

    Sometimes Congress will write into an act an express provision intended to keep the states from being pushed aside by it. The Natural Gas Act specifically exempts independent producers from federal control; they have traditionally been regulated only by state governments.

    But the decision in the Phillips case ignored the exemption completely and brought the independent producers under the regulation of a federal bureau—on the grounds that that is what Congress intended!

    State sovereignty continues to be challenged everywhere. Now pending in the Supreme Court is a labor case from Nebraska, in which the appellants are attacking the so-called right-to-work laws of 17 states, which protect workers from being forced to join a union in order to obtain or hold their jobs. The Federal Railway Labor Act says railway workers can be so compelled. Mississippi, along with Texas and several other Southern states, is filing a brief in that case, believing that the denial of a man or woman’s right to work for refusal to join any organization—church, party, club, lodge, union or anything else—is an unconscionable violation of the Fourteenth Amendment.

    Also under attack through a suit in the Supreme Court is a state law forbidding mass picketing, the obstruction of streets, the picketing of employees’ homes, and other unlawful acts. In two important labor cases decided in 1953 and 1955, the Supreme Court has held that unfair labor practices are within the sole province of the Federal Government because Congress, in setting up the National Labor Relations Board, had excluded the states entirely from that area.

    How long will it be until we have no jurisdiction left? How long until state legislatures will be puppet bodies with nothing to do? How long until state capitol buildings will become empty barns, or quaint old museums, full of relics and memories of lost glory?

    I have been many times to Vicksburg and other battlegrounds where our great-grandfathers met, without faltering, the challenge that faced their generation. Many times I have stood in the old cemeteries, like the one I used to visit by the church just off the old Public Market in Charleston, where dim gravestones mark the resting places not only of Confederate heroes, but of many colonial Americans who were born under the dominion of an English king and laid to rest under the Stars and Stripes long before this nation was divided and re-joined.

    I have often wondered what they would say to us if they could call to us across the abyss of time. What questions do they demand of us, their children’s children, as blood calls to blood across the centuries?

    Where, they ask, are those liberties which we wrenched from the hands of tyrants and reposed in the bosoms of humble-God-fearing men? Where is that freedom that we took out of stone castles with iron doors and buried safely under the hearthstones of America? Whose hand has carried it away and laid it among the white marble halls on a hill by the Potomac? Is it forgotten, that it must lie among stone monuments? Is it dead, that it must rest in whited sepulchres?[sic]

    Where is it written that the government which sits on those cherry-blossomed banks is to be the sole and final judge of the extent of its own powers? We didn’t write in in the Constitution!

    Where is it written that the law of the land is to be promulgated from the bench instead of the floor of Congress? By whose authority is the Constitution changed without the consent of the people? By what devious means are the sovereign powers of the states overridden, their laws cut down like trees, and their righteous protests drowned under accusations of rebellion?

    Who delegated to the creature a preeminence over his creators? What freak of Frankenstein is this that rises up to crush those who made him?

    These works [sic] come to us across seventeen decades of time, spoken to a generation that knows the source of atomic power but does not know the location of its own government. For this nation, of all nations, is the only one in which the location of governmental sovereignty is in dispute. This uncertainty is a broad avenue to destruction.

    What is the solution to Federal encroachment? What can we do to stop it?

    The most immediate method is corrective legislation. There are literally hundreds of bills now pending in Congress which would in some way further the cause of States’ Rights. There’s the Forrester bill, which would remove from the federal courts all jurisdiction over the administrative policies of state educational agencies. There are the Barrett and Neuberger Bills, which would correct the federal policy announced in the Oregon water case. And there’s the Smith Bill—H.R. 3—an important piece of legislation which would forbid the courts to exclude the states from a field unless Congress has expressly stated its intention to preempt that field entirely.

    However, most corrective legislation is a question of locking the stable door after the horse is gone. It puts Congress in the position of the little community that operated an ambulance at the bottom of a cliff instead of building a fence around it to keep people from falling off, on the theory “Aren’t we picking them up as fast as they hit the ground?”

    Perhaps a better solution is a Constitutional amendment to clarify States’ Rights. The Tenth Amendment, which reserves to the states or the people all of the powers not specifically delegated to Congress, is written backwards. It ought to enumerate specifically those sovereign powers which were intended to remain forever in state hands.

    Constitutional amendment is the object of interposition, and interposition is an orderly process for bringing it about. It cannot be said that the Constitution ignores it, because Article V contemplates that the states themselves can propose Constitutional amendments when two-thirds of them pass resolutions calling for a convention for that purpose.

    Interposition will not do as much as some think it will, but at the same time, it is not as ineffectual its critics would have us believe. It has worked many times in history, and it can work again if we work.

    The one thing vitally necessary is that the states work together—that members of Congress, Governors, Legislators, Attorneys General and citizens cooperate with each other.

    There has been little disposition on the part of the Texas delegation in Congress to help the states of the Deep South in the segregation field, and a number of Southern States voted against both the Tidelands Bill and the recently-vetoed Harris Bill, which would have rectified the decision in the Phillips case. I am happy to say that on both of these issues Texas and Mississippi stood side by side. You voted with us on Tidelands, and seven of the eight members of the Mississippi delegation in Washington voted for the Harris Bill. If the states are stripped of their rights to conserve and control their own natural resources, it isn’t the fault of Mississippi.

    But the ultimate solution to the loss of Constitutional government lies in the people themselves. Again I hear the voices of our forefathers echoing across the decades; “you applaud the heroes of the Old South,” they say to us, “and you endorse the old traditions, but you don’t live them.”

    I know what they mean. Local autonomy is big in theory, and small in practice. We don’t think local and we don’t live local. Community leaders fail to put courage into local governments by serving in office and executing policies consistent with our basic beliefs. Bankers are often too reluctant to give loans to young people who are just getting started, so they have to go to the state or federal government for money to buy their homes and start their businesses—or wait until they are too old to start at all.

    Business men often don’t use their heads to stimulate local enterprise, and to keep people from having to depend on the help of a higher level of government to develop local resources and finance local improvements. Local governments are afraid to undertake major projects without a guarantee of federal aid, which is also a guarantee of federal control. When leadership on the local level breaks down, the people are forced to vote for a living instead of working for it.

    You members of the LP Gas Dealers Association are forced into leadership by the very nature of your positions as business men and representatives of private enterprise in your communities. A silent voice in the ranks of private enterprise is a shout for socialism, and a negative business man is almost as bad as a positive Communist.

    It is your job to build up attendance at meetings of your local governmental bodies . . . to get out the vote . . . to give the city council the benefit of your advice and experience . . . to give advertising space to explanations of local issues or to call attention to local problems . . . to support your candidates for office after election as well as before . . . and to serve on civic committees and in public office yourself when qualified and when called upon. It is your job to keep local and state governments strong.

    Too many so-called leaders are sitting around waiting for their country’s call in the form of a big dollar-a-year appointment to a statewide committee or board and ignoring the call of the school board and the P-TA. Too many are willing to lead only within the safe boundaries of non-partisan and non-controversial fields, and won’t get mixed up in politics because they think it will hurt business. I feel sorry for this kind. Show me a man with no identifiable stand on public issues, and I’ll show you a man with no identifiable character, patriotism or business stability.

    By no means would I exclude women. Women are peculiarly equipped for a job of leadership. Any women who can keep an eye on the stove, the ironing board, the T.V. set, the mixmaster and the kids in the yard, and talk to a neighbor on the phone at the same time, can also keep up with public affairs. Any woman who has learned how to can a jar of pickles and hold it up to the light to see if it is leaking air and is going to spoil in a few months can do the same to a politician.

    We found out in Texas that a man without a woman is only half a man, and a government without women is only half a government.

    Being a leader doesn’t necessarily mean doing great things. It means doing a lot of little things in a great way. When you leave a warm building on a cold day, to go and cast a cool ballot in a hot election, you’ve done more than most Americans ever do. When you pack the car full of yelling kids on Sunday morning and drive to church, you’ve preached a sermon to the neighborhood. But don’t call yourself religious unless you preach a sermon to somebody every day without opening your mouth.

    What is the alternative to good citizens on the local level? Big Government? Socialism? Communism? Is Communism just a foreign philosophy somewhere of the sea, which we don’t need to worry about? Where is Communism?

    Communism grows in the path over which men and women no longer walk to the polls. It sprouts on the courthouse lawn where they no longer attend political rallies. It springs up on the steps of the school house where parents never set foot, and grows out of the dust in the empty chairs at the conventions of the LP Gas Dealers Association, where fair legislation and good business practices are discussed and free enterprise strengthened.

    Communism is a cobweb that forms on church pews that are never filled, and spreads itself in homes where half the family just sits around waiting for the other half to get back with the car. It hangs over us when we stop running our own government and start begging from it, and when we start looking for a helping hand at the end of somebody else’s arm.

    It will take courage to stop federal encroachment and preserve self-government at home. It will take a lot of men and women who won’t let Constitutional government die of cold feet because they were afraid to get into hot water. It will take candidates who won’t get into public office through pull and then stop pulling. It will take citizens who won’t be so concerned with the left and the right that they forget the above and below, and who won’t sacrifice a dot or a dash in the Constitution to get a dollar sign on the ledger.

    We need men and women with the courage of those Confederate soldiers who stood and wept without shame when Gen. Robert E. Lee told them it was over, and the Cause lost. They took up their painful homeward march, over mountains, streams and valleys, where every wild rose marked the graves of a fallen comrade. They re-crossed old battlefields where they had lost all but their courage and their honor, and turned their steps toward the homes they had left with trellises and smiling children’s faces, only to return and find them a blackened ruin.

    Their society was disrupted. Their industries were destroyed. Their churches were burned to the ground. Their loved ones were dead or scattered. Their legislatures were filled with arrogant renegades, carpet-baggers, and drunken illiterates. Civil rights were gone. Servants rode in carriages while proud men walked in the dirt. The old South, apparently, was dead.

    But the men and women of the South did not sit down and moan that all was lost. They went to work, and out of the rubble and the shame of defeat they rebuilt their broken fortunes. In less than a generation they, the world, stood amazed at the rehabilitation of the Southland.

    Shall we, then, stand hopeless and fearful while men hidden behind pious cloaks of congressional, bureaucratic and judicial immunities march in hob-nailed boots across the face of sacred traditions, and with legal sabers lash whole concepts of free government out of the Constitution?

    Out of the blackened ruin of war and destruction the South rose again, and the ways of our fathers have been preserved. This is our consolation in those days when the winds of time and the rush of events sweep past the old landmarks of tradition and seem to write across the face of our most sacred institution the message “This, too, shall pass away.”

    While a Southerner lives, freedom will never pass away.

    Freedom is old, not young, yet it is born anew in the first cry of a free man’s son;

    It is not a living thing, yet it dies if we do not love it;

    It is not weak, yet is must be defended;

    It is light, but it weighs heavy on him who is without it;

    It is without price, yet it dearly costs the one who sells it;

    It is not small, but great; yet once lost, it is never found again.

    Please note: The views expressed in these speeches were those of John Ben Shepperd, and do not necessarily represent the views of the John Ben Shepperd Public Leadership Institute or the University of Texas Permian Basin.

  13. John Ben Shepperd: Bluebonnet Girls’ State

    Leave a Comment

    June 18, 1953

    Bluebonnet Girls’ State (Austin, Texas)

    It does me good to see so many young women taking part in Girls’ State. I have a profound respect for girls and what they can do. According to the old saying, boys will be boys—and too often that is a static condition—they remain boys all their lives. But girls always grow up to be women.

    Down through history women have always been a source of trouble. The face of Helen launched a thousand ships and caused the destruction of Troy. Pandora opened the lid of a box and let out all the evils of the world. But in spite of these things, I want you to know I am not in favor of doing away with women.

    Girls are like the weather—unpredictable, inescapable, and irresistible. And like the weather, everybody talks about them but nobody does anything about them. That is not just a silly statement. What are we going to do with our young women? American womanhood is like an unsplit atom—a source of tremendous power, as yet unutilized.

    In this country women slightly outnumber men, and for that reason they make up the better half of the population. If they would, they could cast more than half the votes. Women control the automobile industry, and own seven out of ten shares of railroad stock. They control seven and a half out of every ten consumer dollars spent in this country. It has always been that way—the Roman poet Ovid observed 2,000 years ago that women are always buying something. They say it’s a man’s world, but it could be a woman’s.

    But why should it be? We’ve been saying for thousands of years that a women’s place is in the home. I agree to that—her place is in the home; but not in the home alone. A women’s place is wherever she can serve her fellow human beings with her talents and abilities, and there is ample room for women in government.

    In the future more and more public offices are going to be occupied by women. We may have a women Attorney General. (Why not? The men have messed it up enough.) For the moment let’s suppose that each of you is the first woman Attorney General of Texas, newly-elected, sworn in and ready to take over the job.

    You are the head of one of the nation’s biggest law firms, with 45 assistant Attorney General and an equal number of other employees. You are legal adviser to more than 800 clients, including 298 state boards and agencies, both houses of the legislature, and all the county and district attorneys and county auditors in the state. Besides advising your clients, you have to defend their interests in court when the occasion arises, and it arises about 2,000 times a year. The cases you handle involve hundreds of millions of dollars belonging to the people of Texas.

    Your office is always busy, but when the Legislature is in session it’s a beehive, and you’re the queen bee. You have the responsibility of advising the Legislature on the constitutionality of bills, writing those bills in legal form, rendering opinions on matters of policy, and interpreting established laws. You are the chief prosecutor of the state and must cooperate with all law enforcement agencies to see that state laws are put into effect.

    Besides all this, you will serve on more boards and commissions of the state government than any other state official—25 of them, including the banking board, the tax board, the elections board, and the school and veterans’ land boards.

    In all, I think a woman would make a good Attorney General. I’ve never seen anybody who can beat a woman when it comes to laying down the law. But all these things are important to you whether you become attorney general or not. As a public office holder on any level of government, or as a private citizen with a family to feed and a mortgage to pay off, the question of government is one of the biggest you will face. How big will you let it be? How much of your family income or your career-girls’s salary will you let it take away? To what extent will you let it control your life? How much of it will you send to Washington, and how much will you keep at home in Taylor and Lockney and Waco?

    Don’t say you know nothing of government, and finances, and public affairs. I never met a girl who wasn’t concerned about men, money and manners—and that’s all government is: men are running it with your money, in a particular manner. You have the duty to decide who they shall be, how much they shall spend, and on what they shall spend it.

    Nobody is better qualified than you are to decide who shall occupy public office. Any girl who has ever canned a jar of pickles and held it up to the light to see if it is leaking air and is going to spoil in a few months can do the same to a political candidate. Nobody can size up a man the way a woman can, and if you don’t do it, a lot of sour pickles are going to get into public office.

    But most of your men troubles are still in the future. Your money troubles are here and now. We are paying 400 times as much for state government as we did in the 1870’s when our state constitution was written. In the last 10 years the cost of living has risen 86%, while the cost of state government has risen 500%. We are spending $1,700,000 a day—that’s $1,180 a minute for state government.

    Maybe you have been saying, “When I get to be 21 I’m going to be a good citizen—I’m going to take these problems by the horns.”

    I hope you are not like the old colored preacher who used to point up his sermons by saying: “I aim to do this” and “I aim to do that,” until finally one of his parishioners stood up and said, “For goodness sake, parson, hurry up and pull the trigger.” I hope you’re not doing a lot of aiming and no pulling. If you are, you’re afflicted with “21-itis.”

    You are putting everything off until a later date. It isn’t a rare disease—your mother and father probably have a form of it. You probably hear them say, “I won’t vote this time since the important elections don’t come up till next year. And I won’t write my Congressman—he wouldn’t listen to a mere taxpayer anyway.” That’s like saying, “Nobody will notice if I wear tennis shoes to the dance.” If you don’t shake off 21-itis now, it will leave you sickly citizen.

    If this is your first date with state government, don’t let it be your last. Get out on the dance floor now, and you won’t be a wallflower citizen later one. That’s what Girls’ State is for; it’s your coming-out party—your formal introduction into the society of self-governing Americans.

    But you have wasted your time here if you let it stop with you—if you get learning without a yearning to tell others about it. You must go home and give Girls’ State to others who couldn’t come. It is up to you to talk about it in class, in assembly, and in club meetings. It is up to you to write about it for the school paper. It is up to you to help make Civics class come alive with explanations of the things your classmates see only in the book, but which you have seen with your eyes. It is up to you to remember the state officials and other people you have met here, and to write letters to them. Let the folks at home know that their state officials are just poor sinners like everybody else and need the people’s help to run a government.

    Back in your home town there are too many unpaid poll taxes, unused ballots, weak voices, undecided issues, shrugged shoulders, and blank faces. You will be sent home from Girls’ State like a charged battery. You can make live wires out of a lot of people with loose connections, if you will only make contact. The American Legion Auxiliary has a right to expect a return on its investment in bringing you to Austin. Don’t let the fine women of the Auxiliary down. But even more important than that—don’t let America down.

    Please note: The views expressed in these speeches were those of John Ben Shepperd, and do not necessarily represent the views of the John Ben Shepperd Public Leadership Institute or the University of Texas Permian Basin.

  14. John Ben Shepperd: Argument in State v. NAACP

    Leave a Comment

    October 23, 1956

    Argument in State v. NAACP (Tyler, Texas)

    The Honorable court properly identified this action when it correctly excluded all evidence relating to segregation, stating that this is not a race action. The fact that the NAACP purports to represent the Negro race has no bearing whatever on this case. We have alleged, and we believe we have established, that the NAACP and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., both corporations foreign to Texas, and both operating under a naked privilege in this State, have so abused that privilege as to justify their immediate and permanent ouster from Texas.

    Tragedy has been a constant witness in this trial, the tragedy of seeing how the leaders of the NAACP and its affiliates have duped and deceived not only their own members, but the Negro race as well. They are false prophets. They have peddled false hopes at bargain prices. Into many of our humble, self-respecting colored citizens they have infused hostility and arrogance, and brought upon them the resentment of the community. The highest aspirations of the Negro people for the advancement of their race have been played upon for material gain by men whose motive is not to educate, not to elevate, not to help the Negro people, but to sacrifice as many of them as necessary to further the aims of the organization. Their object is not achievement, but conquest.

    For organizations enjoying an exemption for benevolent and charitable purposes, I have been amazed at the total lack of charity or benevolence. Where are the nurseries for working mothers?

    Where were any scholarships for deserving Negro children—excluding, of course, bought plaintiffs?

    Where were any hospitals, rest homes, or homes for the aged?

    Where was any aid to the poor, any assistance to widows or orphans, any help for the sick or disabled? All were asked to give to the NAACP, but none were assisted.

    No, these organizations have not talked about the way their money was spent—we have heard only about the thousands of ways money was raised.

    They have said, “Pay us, and we will strike down any type of segregation in parks, schools, hospitals, churches, hotels, swimming pools, golf courses, buses, trains, housing areas, dance halls, restaurants, fraternities and sororities.[”] The master plan for abolition of all segregation—regardless of the wishes and desires of a majority of the individual communities, and perhaps a majority of all colored citizens of Texas, was conceived in New York, channeled through Dallas, and erupted in the local communities throughout Texas. I believe court observers of this trial have been staggered by the revelations of the NAACP’s own documents. Cases which appeared to be spontaneous protests of children and parents are now revealed as the plot of New York and Dallas officials.

    We now see what the P means in the NAACP: Pick the place, prepare the setting, procure the plaintiffs, and push them forward like pawns.

    The champions of the lofty causes are now exposed as mere paid puppets. Sweatt and the others, subsidized and goaded, taunted with cries of “your sacred duty to your race,” did not really desire the bountiful relief offered by the Federal Courts. We have seen how the NAACP lawyers studied college catalogues, seeking some course not offered by the colored schools and then re-shaped the desires of the individual students to have them apply for those particular courses. As Jessalyn Gray and the other witnesses have said, “I didn’t want to go to a white college. I just wanted to go to college.” That’s what they said, but that’s not what their pleadings, drafted in the Dallas office and cleared through the New York Headquarters said. I know your Honor has noted too, how few of these plaintiffs whose names were used actually entered the college they allegedly sued.

    The real clue to the mercenary leaderships of the NAACP, its legal subsidiary and its branches, is found in the revealing language of their own letters. Plaintiffs or applicants are to be “TENDERED” to schools or swimming pools. “Tender” implies the submission of an inanimate object—a thing, not a person. You tender dollar bills or a receipt, not people.

    The record is replete with references to “Find us a plaintiff”, “Get me some qualified plaintiffs”, “Be sure that the plaintiffs are in the court room”, “Be rejected, and we are in business”. Pushing, tugging, and shoving its unwilling or unknowing plaintiffs forward, the NAACP through its affiliates in Texas ran rough-shod over the desires of Texas citizens. I have read and reread the segregation cases handed down by the U.S. Supreme Court, and I have yet to find even an intimation that it had endowed the NAACP or any other organization with the right, authority, or responsibility of enforcing its order.

    I submit a final word to this Honorable Court, which has wisely separated from this cause the issue of segregation. Many millions of people throughout Texas and the South are re-examining their conscience as a result of the segregation decree. Millions favor integration in the public schools, and millions oppose it. Those who favor it are inclined to sanction and support blindly any organization or action leading to that objective, whether it is good or bad. Those who oppose it are inclined to condemn and prosecute any agent conducive to that objective, whether it be good or evil.

    The cause now before this Court is such that men and women of both viewpoints may in good conscience, stand together in condemning and ejecting from our midst this cunning, deceitful agency of social strife, which cold-bloodedly reduces the noble yearnings of human beings to material profit and political power, without regard or concern for ethics, law, or the consequences to the individuals it purports to help.

    The law can be upheld only through repudiation of all persons and entities who have broken it and thereby done violence to the peace and dignity of the State.

    Among many things which may be said to the credit of the Negro people, they are honest and straight forward in their aspiration to advance. The NAACP has duped and blinded many of them and led them into devious fraudulence and undeserved shame.

    Vast through it is, Texas has no room for this kind of corporation.

    Please note: The views expressed in these speeches were those of John Ben Shepperd, and do not necessarily represent the views of the John Ben Shepperd Public Leadership Institute or the University of Texas Permian Basin.

  15. John Ben Shepperd: Baker’s Convention

    Leave a Comment

    April 19, 1955

    Bakers Convention (San Antonio, Texas)

    I’ve just come back from Washington, where we argued segregation before the Supreme Court. As you remember, on May 17 almost a year ago the Supreme Court handed down its historic decision that racial segregation in the public schools is unconstitutional. Texans are accustomed to Federal encroachment into local affairs in taxation, commerce, natural resources, conservation, and other fields; but it comes as a shock when the Supreme Court issues an order that reads like the edict of a Federal bureau.

    No other court action in many years has so vitally affected every family in Texas.

    That decision resulted from five cases before the Court from the states of Virginia, South Carolina, Kansas, Delaware and the District of Columbia. It was a so-called “interim” decision—that is, it was not the final, but was what you might call the first part of a one-two punch. Even though only four states and the District of Columbia were parties to the suits, all states practicing segregation were invited by the Court to file briefs and present oral argument to implement the Court’s decision. In effect, the Court was saying, “Segregation is going out. If you’ve got anything to say, you’d better get up here and say it.”

    We filed a brief, because we felt we would be derelict in our duty if we didn’t. The Texas situation is unique, and we wanted the Court to bear that in mind in laying down any kind of degree ending segregation. Too, there are several cases pending, which will place Texas before the Court as a litigant within a short time. Texas is too big to be kept warm under somebody else’s blanket. We have to have tailor-made orders or no orders at all, and naturally we prefer no orders at all.

    To assume that nine fallible human beings in Washington, all of whom are appointed by one fallible human being, can solve the problems of our 2,000 Texas school districts better than our 181 Texas Legislators and 9,011 school trustees, is the idlest kind of irresponsible day-dreaming.

    In our brief and our oral argument we refused to recognize that the decision applied to Texas, since we were not a party to the suits. We pointed out the great variation of local situation, local differences in population and school facilities, the attitudes of the people (both white and colored), the local autonomy of school districts, and the sheer folly of any sudden and cataclysmic change. We told the Court that our school system and its problems are so different from those of other states, and these problems so varied in themselves, that they belong in the hands of our local school authorities. Any decree issued by the Court, we argued, should recognize the paramount ability and right of local school districts to handle their own problems.

    Arguing on the opposing side were counsel for the plaintiffs in the five suits and the Solicitor General of the United States, Mr. Simon E. Sobeloff. Here is what Mr. Sobeloff and the Federal Government are asking the Supreme Court to incorporate into its decree.

    Local school districts must take immediate steps toward integration or show just cause for not taking them, and in the event that they fail to do either, a Federal District Court can order immediate and complete desegregation in the defending school district.

    Now here is the disturbing element. Heretofore a decree entered in these five cases before the Court would have applied only to the five states involved. But the plaintiffs and the Federal Government argue that the Court should issue a broad degree containing a declaration that the constitutional and statutory provisions of the states requiring segregation are in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment and are therefore null and void. This would bring all states practicing segregation under the degree, and all school districts would be responsible to Federal District Courts for compliance.

    I was frankly amazed at the Federal Government’s position that the Supreme Court’s decree should abrogate state laws. If this happens, Texas and its school system will stand pre-judged before the nation’s highest court. This decision should have no more effect on non-litigant states than any other routine opinion. But in this case, the Federal Government is asking the Court to hang states that have not even been tried.

    The plaintiffs and the Federal Government took the position that Texas has been violating the law. This idea is without foundation. Texas schools have operation for 80 years under Art. VII, Section 7 of the Texas Constitution of 1876, and their operation on a segregated basis has been upheld in 77 court decisions, including at least thirteen prior decision of the U.S. Supreme Court.

    The doctrine of “separate and equal” school facilities was upheld in 1896, in the landmark case of Plessy v. Ferguson. In that case a Negro named Plessy refused to occupy separate accommodations on a public conveyance as required by Louisiana State Law. The Supreme Court said:

    “The object of the Fourteenth Amendment was undoubtedly to enforce the equality of the two races before the law, but . . . it could not have been intended to . . . enforce social, as distinguished from political, equality . . . Laws permitting . . . separation . . . have been generally, if not universally, recognized as within the competency of the State Legislatures. . . .” The Court held that the statute was a valid exercise of the police power of the State of Louisiana.

    The first application in Texas was the Sweatt case of 1950. In that case the Court ordered the admission of Herman Sweatt to the University of Texas Law School on the grounds that Texas did not provide equal law school facilities for colored students. This amounted to an admission o the part of the Court that if facilities had been equal, segregation would have been all right. Since that decision, Texas has spent millions of dollars equalizing its facilities for Negroes.

    In other cases the courts have spelled out other conditions for equality. In the Sipuel case in 1949, the Court held that the University of Oklahoma must admit a colored girl to its law school immediately, rather than delay until the state’s Negro law school was completed, because a person’s right to equal facilities was immediate and not to be delayed if the facilities were available for others.

    On March 24 of last year, one week after segregation cases were decided, the Supreme Court upheld a Court of Appeals decision that colored students in the Wichita Falls Junior College district must be admitted to that junior college, on the grounds that forcing them to travel 367 miles to Prairie View or 411 miles to Texas Southern was discrimination not allowed by law.

    The effect of these decision made in the last six years was this: It was not sufficient that separate and equal facilities for Negroes exist; they had to exist at the time they were wanted, they had to be equal in every respect, and they had to be reasonably as near and available as those for white students. But now the Court has declared them altogether unconstitutional.

    Judging by the pattern of Supreme Court decision in the past few years, and by the Court’s questions and attitude in last week’s arguments, I must say it is later than we think. The Court is going to enter a decree, probably in May or June, and even if it is not a broad decree covering other states in addition to the five before the Court, Texas is virtually certain to be brought under it through any one of several segregation suits now in Federal Courts.

    A suit against Texas Western College is now before the court in El Paso, in which the plaintiff is asking the court to strike down our constitutional and statutory provisions requiring segregation. There is a similar suit against the University of Texas and two others against Texarkana Junior College. Under certain conditions, at least two of these suits could reach the Supreme Court by next fall, if not sooner. Further, I have reason to believe that the NAACP is going to make Texas a testing ground for segregation cases under the Supreme Court’s ruling. We are likely to see much litigation sooner than we realize.

    Assuming that it is in accordance with the will of the people of Texas, we should begin mapping plans for a substitute to our present system of law on segregation. If we do not have a substitute ready when it is needed, we may be forced by the courts to accept immediate integration.

    Actually, we don’t know what legal alternatives, if any, the people of Texas would choose. Texans in general are reserving judgment, waiting for the final decree. But if we wait too long, our school legislation is going to be made by Federal Courts instead of our own legislators.

    What we need now is an expression of policy from which we can proceed to find and evaluate our alternatives. We have to know what we want to do and what we can do before we can decide what we’re going to do. I hope the 54th Legislature will not adjourn without making a clear expression, by joint resolution, of the state’s policy in confronting the requirements of the May 17 ruling.

    There are a number of plans, both suggested and in actual use in other states, for dealing with the segregation problems. In mentioning a few of these plans, I must of course make it clear that I am not advocating them, nor do I presume to advise the Legislature about them. The operation of our schools is a matter under legislative authority, and I would not attempt to usurp any part of that authority.

    We are all familiar with drastic measures taken by other state legislatures. Georgia, Mississippi and South Carolina passed constitutional amendments authorizing the Legislatures to abolish the school system. Louisiana passed an amendment to preserve segregation as a police power of the state under the Tenth Amendment.

    If Texas should, by any chance, follow the examples of Georgia, Mississippi, and South Carolina by authorizing the abolition of the public school system, it would be necessary to repeal Article VII, Sec. 1 of the Constitution, which makes it the duty of the Legislature to provide for a free public school system. We would also have to repeal various constitutional taxing provisions. The Legislature would then have to repeal statutes to pull the State out of various fields, such as enforcing compulsory attendance, accreditation of teachers, providing free textbooks, selecting textbooks, grading schools, furnishing transportation, or injecting tax funds into the school system in any manner through contributions to individual students or by direct aid to the school system or other individuals.

    Almost any action taken by the Legislature would be in the nature of an attempt to go in one direction—“all for one and one for all.” There is an alternative under which the Legislature could, in effect, place each school district on its own two feet. The people, by repealing Article 2900 of the Constitution and some thirteen statutory provisions permitting or requiring segregation, could expunge segregation from the books. (Bear in mind that the Court and the Federal Government contend that the Fourteenth Amendment requires that the states shall not deprive any person of the equal protection of the law.)

    There would then be no cause to question the policies of the State, but local school districts would be on their own. Litigation would be a local headache, but local headaches can best be prevented and cured on the local level, where school trustees meet more white and colored citizens on their way to a board meeting than judges meet in a month. This system would permit integration wherever it was wanted.

    An example of what has been done under this type of policy is the Phoenix Plan. Two years ago, when segregation was abolished in Arizona, the school in Phoenix announced that the same white and colored teaching staffs would be retained in their respective schools. When the schools were opened, students were allowed to attend whichever school their parents chose. Ninety-five percent of the students stayed with their old schools. There was only a five percent movement of colored children into white schools.

    Other plans are also possible under this legislative policy of complete local administration, or “every many for himself.” A triple-school system has been mentioned, under which parents would have a choice of sending their children to an all white school, an all colored school, or an integrated school. The District of Columbia and the city of Topeka, Kansas, have been using an option system which, in effect, is a triple school arrangement and is tantamount to segregation in specific districts. Parents may choose to send their children to school in the zone of their residence, or in the zone where they attended the previous two years. Since the schools were segregated the previous two years, and since colored facilities do not easily move into white school districts, the effect is to keep the schools segregated.

    A plan has also been suggested that school children be segregated on a basis of sex—boys in one school, girls in another. Supreme Court Justice Black said from the bench that the Supreme Court has always held that segregation by sex was a reasonable classification.

    Frankly, we don’t know how any of these plans and states’ actions will ultimately be dealt with by the courts. There have been many cases in which states have attempted to circumvent court orders without success.

    For example, in 1944, when the Court held that Negroes cannot be excluded from party primaries, South Carolina tried to get around the decision by separating the primary from the state. The Court then held that a primary election is a part of the state’s election process and cannot be separated from it. The lawbooks are full of similar cases.

    Undoubtedly, Congress will have to assume its share of the responsibility. It can either implement the Supreme Court’s decision or it can remove public education completely from the appellate jurisdiction of the Supreme Court. This latter alternative is now before Congress in the form of a bill which would take public education completely out of the hands of the Supreme Court.

    You can readily see what a vast and complex problem the May 17 decision has laid on the states. The solution lies somewhere between Congress and the local school board. But barring a solution above the state level, which isn’t likely, considering the present composition of the Supreme Court and the political philosophy of too many members of Congress, it is the State Legislatures which will have to act first.

    Because of this great complexity, and because the Texas Legislature cannot study the problem and act on it decisively in the remaining weeks of this session, I have recommended the establishment of a fifteen-member Legislature Advisory Committee on Education, to be composed of five members of the Senate, five members of the House, and five citizens appointed by the Governor. This committee would study the problem of segregation and the school laws of Texas and other states, recommend possible courses of action, formulate a plan of legislation, and if necessary draft laws. It would be an interim committee, working between sessions, retaining the best school lawyers and making legal counsel available to schools districts involved in legislation.

    Such a committee might obviate the necessity of a special session of the Legislature following the issuance of a Supreme Court decree, and would undoubtedly shorten a session if it became necessary to have one. It would be good from an economy standpoint, not to mention the invaluable services it could render. Many of the seventeen states practicing segregation have already established a similar committee.

    I recommend this committee in answer to an inquiry from a number of Legislators as to what the Legislature can do now. I pointed out that no constitutional amendments dealing with public education, or any other subject, could be considered at a special session if one should be called after the Supreme Court issues its final decree.

    Texas is perfectly capable of writing and amending its school laws, and we don’t want Federal courts to do it. We don’t want local taxation to be skyrocketed by the necessity of building new facilities overnight. We don’t want school children going home with bloody noses because of being forced to do what they didn’t want to do, and having to say, “Mama, I exercised my constitutional rights until recess.” Why isn’t anybody worried about the psychological shock of integration on children?

    We should proceed intelligently, with confidence in the present integrity and value of our school system, of which our white and colored citizens alike may be proud. Almost 80% of our colored citizens of school age are in school on an average day. No other state can match that percentage. Ninety-seven percent of our teachers have college degrees. We have 8500 Negro teachers and administrators, which is equal to the number in 31 northern and western states that practice non-segregation. In those states only one teacher in 73 is a Negro, but in Texas one out of five is colored. I don’t believe this system is anything to be ashamed of before the Supreme Court, or before the world.

    Nevertheless, facing the Supreme Court is very often like having a fatal accident. You may be in the right, but you’re just as dead as if you were wrong. We have better begin planning for any eventuality and had better be ready to meet it.

    Our argument before the Supreme Court was summed up in eight words: “It is our problem. Let us solve it.” Even though we had no problem at all until it was imposed on us by the Court, we now have one and must solve it ourselves, or those nine men are going to solve it for us in a manner we may not like. We can solve it without the high paid lawyers and agitators and public relations counselors of the NAACP. We have never had any trouble with our Negro people, and we haven’t had any problems that we couldn’t sit down and work out with them and this will be no exception.

    This is a question that needs the thought and prayer of every Texan. I know you will give it yours, and I assure you it is receiving mine. Texas has never yet faced a situation it couldn’t cope with, and I am trusting in our ability to meet this one. As I told the Supreme Court, Texans can decide moral issues without outside help, and will always work with diligence, with prayer, and with conscience before God, to bring enlightenment, understanding and well-being to all our people.

    Please note: The views expressed in these speeches were those of John Ben Shepperd, and do not necessarily represent the views of the John Ben Shepperd Public Leadership Institute or the University of Texas Permian Basin.

  16. John Ben Shepperd: Young Man with a System

    Leave a Comment

    January 21, 1957

    Junior Chamber of Commerce Distinguished Service Awards Banquet (Monahans)

    Young Man with a System

    In the first half of our century an organization was born which was destined to become one of the most vital and significant currents in the stream of American life. At thirty-seven years of age that organization—the United States Junior Chamber of Commerce—is well on its way to the fulfillment of that destiny, the destiny that was not a matter of chance but a matter of choice. The Junior Chamber of Commerce taps a reservoir of energies and potentialities for good which no other organization has yet been able to utilize in such abundance—the idealistic, unselfish and unquenchable vitality of young manhood.

    Young manhood is not a time of life, but a miracle of human intelligence, vitality and genius—a moving force out of which come Napoleons, Alexanders, Lincolns, Einsteins, Edisons and Rockefellers. Out of the reservoir of young American manhood has flowed a stream of energetic genius that has made our country the greatest and best the world has yet seen.

    They say young men are just little boys grown up. That is at least partly true and I am thankful for it. They are little boys inasmuch as they are full of curiosity end energy. They do not know that a thing is impossible so they go ahead and do it. They are not yet blanketed with the snows of skepticism and have not traded the spirit of adventure for dusty sophistication and worldly wisdom. Young men go forward where others fall because life is a moving force which responds to the law of action.

    The Junior Chamber of Commerce is an action organization with the object and purpose of producing leadership. It doesn’t try to build communities. It builds men and it is men and women who build cities, states and nations. The Junior Chamber of Commerce is a training ground for young men who want to have a part in shaping the destiny of their communities and their country.

    The greatest strength of the Junior Chamber of Commerce is that its ideal is far outside itself. Young men are not Jaycees for the sake of being Jaycees. Jayceeism is not an end in itself, but a means to a much larger end. It is only a vehicle to help young men get where they are going—to help them achieve leadership.

    It doesn’t try to hold onto its members, but pushes them out at the age of 35, trained to lead in community affairs without the help of any parent organization. It says goodbye to them at the age when they are just beginning to show their greatest value and capabilities. It stays behind while they go on to whatever heights God will lead them. It’s a very unselfish mother and it raises good boys.

    In the last few years I have had considerable experience as an employer of young men and have had the new experience of looking at the Jaycees from the viewpoint of a boss whose “boys” were not available for an important conference at noon on some weekdays because they were with the Jaycees, either having lunch, rattling buckets on the street corner or planting trees on the grounds of the School for Retarded Children. I know how it feels to need one of them at night and to phone their homes and have their wives tell me I’m out of luck because they’re out do-gooding with the Jaycees. Any bosses who might be present will be pleased to know that I too have looked at the Jaycees in a different light since I stopped running with them and am forced to run after them.

    But it didn’t change my mind about them. You have probably found, as I have, that the men in the Jaycees make the most valuable employees. I’ve seen many a transformation brought about by this organization. Today, a young man may be an obscure clerk; but after a while in the Jaycees, after getting into the bloodstream of community affairs, he’s in a position to hire and fire clerks by the dozen. Today he may be a follower; tomorrow he’ll be a leader. But in the meantime he’ll spend time on committees, running around on cold nights helping on some kind of improvement project or standing on the street corner with a loud speaker telling people to give, and vote, and go, and come, and listen, and be concerned. He’ll start getting public recognition. People he doesn’t know from Adam will call him by name on the street and he will be on speaking terms with hundreds he never knew before. His boss will begin to realize that all this civic activity inspires the community’s confidence and appreciation and results in new business and he shouldn’t be surprised to find the community looking to his clerk, his salesman, his assistant or his employee for civic leadership.

    What is it about a Jaycee that makes him want to pay the price of leadership? What kind of person is a Jaycee anyway?

    A Jaycee is a crazy, mixed-up kid who gets everything backwards. He thinks personal happiness depends not on how the world treats you, but on how you treat the world. He thinks the only thing you can take with you is what you have given to others and the only way that you can rise in the world is to keep your feet on the ground and stay on the level.

    A Jaycee has a bad sense of proportion; there is no job too big for him and there’s no job so small that he things he is too big for it. He’s also very superstitious. He believes in luck and the harder he works, the more of it he seems to have. He is so weak and helpless in the face of a really tough problem that he has to call on God for help and he thinks an ounce of sweat carries more weight with God than a bucket of tears.

    I have faith in the Jaycees.  I’ve seen them roll up a sleeve and get things done that others called impossible. I’ve seen them wade in and solve a problem with muscle and elbow grease before older and wiser men could even get it outlined on the conference table. I’ve seen them pump the breath of life into towns that were dead on their feet and slap the wind out of crooked demagogues and private interests that were holding whole cities in their grip. But more than that, I’ve seen them turn pipsqueaks into men, pessimists into optimists and quitters into fighters.

    I’m sure that as members of the Junior Chamber of Commerce you wonder at times what the public thinks of you as an organization. In every town there are always a few cynics, generally nursing some personal inadequacy, who criticize the Jaycees for being eager beavers without the mature judgment of older men. But since I was kicked out of the nest at 36, I have discovered that the majority or the public likes and respects the Jaycee because of the things he does.

    To hundreds of poor children at Christmas time he is the Santa Claus they didn’t believe in. To thousands of citizens who see him sweating on a street corner by a traffic light, munching a sandwich for lunch, shaking a bucket and asking for pennies to give the little fellows in the polio wards a fighting chance, he looks like a pretty decent guy. To millions of people who see him riding on a truck bed in the heat of summer telling them to go and vote, he looks like Uncle Sam in a limp shirt. And to the crooks and false leaders who creep into local government to pull down the curtain of secrecy, close the open doors of public office, lull the people into apathy and steal them blind, he looks like the hangman.

    You can be sure that your community respects you as an organization of young men who work together for the common good and nothing you do with a worthy motive will ever fail or be unappreciated.

    But are you everything that your community would like for you to be? Are you everything your town needs? Is it enough to get out the vote, collect the money for a good cause, beautify the city, sponsor worthy projects and so on until you are 36? Are you through when the awards are locked in the trophy case and the scrapbook is closed? You’re training for leadership in your community. What do people expect a leader to do?

    Leadership means doing everything for the good of others, which often means doing it at the sacrifice of personal popularity. Very often it means standing alone in the belief that you are right and the crowd is wrong. Sometimes it means being a busybody and other times being stubborn—having a strong will and a stronger won’t. But sooner or later the community will follow the man who does what he knows is right whether the crowd is with him or not and in spite of the pressures of self-interest and convenience. The city you live in will respect you as long as you respect and follow your own civic conscience. Such a man is never poor, is never without friends. There is no cabinet that will contain his trophies and no scrapbook can tell his deeds.

    Oh yes, there are too many so-called leaders who are not willing to serve their communities because they are waiting for the call of bigger things. They want an appointment to a big national council, a regional presidency or a state board and don’t have time to heed the call of the school board or the P-TA. They want to fight federal encroachment and preserve the good old Constitution. They want to preserve private enterprise from the effects of creeping socialism but they don’t want to grab the bull by the horns where it will do the most good—down on the local level. They want to change everything they don’t like just by changing the federal government.

    But it is high time we realize that Democracy does not give people the government they wish for, but the government they deserve.

    The towns and cities of the United States are begging the Jaycees to give them community leaders who will put courage into local government by serving in office and executing policies consistent with our basic beliefs of integrity, economy and efficiency. We need business men who can use their heads to stimulate local enterprise and to keep people from having to depend on federal help to develop local resources and finance local improvements.

    We need bankers who will be quick to give loans to young people who are just getting started so they won’t have to go to the Federal government for the money to build their homes and start their businesses. We need local leaders who are not afraid to start local projects without a guarantee of federal aid, which is also a guarantee of federal control.

    When leadership on the local level breaks down, the people are forced into the position of having to vote for prosperity instead of working for it.

    We seem to have an abundance of able men who want to be leaders but who want to steer clear of controversial issues They refuse to get mixed up in politics or tell how they stand because they think it will hurt business, antagonize the boss or the union. Show me a man with no identifiable stand on a clear-cut issue and I’ll show you a man with no identifiable character or value to his community. You can try so hard to stay away from the pro and the con that you become blind to the right and the wrong.

    Can the Jaycees give us this kind of leadership? Can they put men in places of responsibility who will make their own records and stand on them instead of jumping on the other fellow’s? We need men who won’t get to the top through pull and then stop pulling—who won’t let the American way of life die of cold feet because they are afraid to get into hot water. We don’t need leaders who can sit on a podium or stand on a platform; we need men and women who can stand on their own two feet and kneel on their own two knees. We need the kind who can be right and be president too.

    I don’t know what the Jaycee lapel pin means to you. But to me it means that the man behind it, wherever he is, is trying to create an atmosphere in which every mother’s son is a future president . . . where the size of man is not measured from his feet to his head, but from his head to the sky . . . where men and women are free to work and enjoy the fruits of their labor . . . where people can walk with their heads up, take off a hat to nobody and choose their own God. It means that in any community where there are Jaycees, the industries will hum; the markets will bustle, the sick will be cared for; the downtrodden will be lifted up; the children will laugh; the old people will smile, the women will sing.

    It is a common fallacy of young men to measure success in terms of prosperity and to fix their eyes on a horizon of gold. We must always remember that the good things of life are not bought with money. Nobody can open a safety deposit box and file away a title to a West Texas sunset. No one can lay gold on the counter and buy the look of trust and innocence in a child’s eyes. No man can trade hard cash for the companionship of a true friend or purchase at any price the love and devotion of a faithful wife. And all the money in all the treasuries of the world is not worth the sound of a mother’s lullaby or the laughter of a free man.

    Because freedom is old, not young, yet it is born anew in the first cry of a free man’s son;
    It is not a living thing, yet it dies if we do not love it;
    It is not weak, yet it must be defended;
    It is light, yet it weighs heavy on him who is without it;
    It is without price, yet it dearly costs the one who sells it;
    It is not small but great; yet once lost, it is never, never found again.

    [Note: The views expressed in this speech were those of John Ben Shepperd, and do not necessarily represent the views of the John Ben Shepperd Public Leadership Institute or the University of Texas Permian Basin.]

  17. John Ben Shepperd: The Lawyer – Freedom’s Advocate

    Leave a Comment

    February 9, 1957

    Illinois Bar Association Lincoln Day Luncheon (Peoria, Illinois)

    The Lawyers—Freedom’s Advocate

    Thank you for that very flattering and truthful introduction. It’s been a long time since I’ve heard anything I enjoyed so much agreed with so complete1y. However, President Thomas probably found himself in the same predicament of the Master of Ceremonies who had to introduce another obscure character from a small Texas town who said, “Our next speaker needs no introduction. Even if I told you who he is, you still wouldn’t know him.”

    I, of course, want to say a few words about my native state. I talk about Texas when there is the slightest indication or interest in the subject—and frankly, you have indicated the slightest interest in Texas of any group I have ever appeared before.

    But if I came this far away from God’s country and didn’t talk about Texas, you’d think I had been excommunicated, was dead, running for a national office or an unmitigated fraud. Besides, I want to get back in when I go home.

    I think it’s time the truth was told about Texas. Some folks say Texans don’t have a very high regard for the truth. Actually we value it very highly and that’s why we are so economical with it.

    Being from Texas, I guess you want me to do a little bragging. We Texans don’t enjoy this sort of thing as much as you think we do, but it has come to be expected of us and we’re too polite not to fulfill our obligations.

    Actually when you come right down to it, there aren’t many Texans who brag. As a matter of fact, if all the bragging Texans were laid end to end, it would meet with the unanimous approval of the rest of the country.

    Now that I’m out of politics, I’ll let you in on a secret. There’s one sure way to tell if a Texan is lying. If his mouth us open, he’s lying.

    Another serious misconception needs to be cleared up about Texas. It is not true that all Texans are oil rich. In fact, if all the people getting rich on oil in Texas were suddenly taken up into heaven at the last trump—which within itself is an unlikely supposition—the state would still have left two janitors, three sharecroppers and a darn good attorney general.

    However, I modestly won’t deny the fact that Texas is the healthiest place in the world. We have to go across the state line to get sick. An Illinois lawyer friend of mine advised a client to go to Texas for his health. He bought a ranch down there. When he came down he was crippled and had a glass eye. They discovered oil on his ranch and now he has not only stopped limping, but he can even see a little out of that glass eye.

    To top this, every sixteenth child born in the United States is a Texan and Texans are born four times as fast as they die—which is pretty discouraging to the rest of the country.

    To boil this factual report on Texas down to a simple formula—in Texas men are men and women are women and I defy you to improve on a situation like that. Or as the old maid said, “Who’s trying to improve on it. I just want to get in on it.”

    But let’s talk about Illinois. I honestly used to think it was too far away from Texas to ever amount to very much. I know better now. In fact, Texas is grateful for the contributions citizens of Illinois make to our economy and to our public education. Every year you send us over 250,000 tourists who are loaded with money and they have taught us that it’s easier to pick a citizen of Illinois than to pick cotton. It’s more fun, too. I’ve tried both and I know.

    In addition to this we have over 50,000 people who have moved permanently from Illinois to Texas. By choice, they claim. If I were a typical Fourth of July orator or a politician, I’d stand up here and tell you what fine citizens they are and what great contributions they are making to our state. But I’ll be perfectly candid with you and say that you can have them back anytime you like. Actually we are proud of these people and of the friendship between Texas and Illinois. And I am proud and honored to be here.

    It’s difficult to know what things ought to be said by one lawyer to a group of others in a few brief moments like these. There is hardly time to go into a deep subject and there is no deep subject that goes well with an after-lunch cigar anyway.

    So I’d like merely to share with you a few thoughts about this country of ours, its Constitution and certain responsibilities of the lawyer. The American lawyer is legal counsel to Democracy—he is Freedom’s advocate.

    The Constitution divides the government into three branches, lodging the lawmaking power in Congress. Any realistic lawyer or historian will admit that the Constitution has been violated many times with respect to the actual location of this lawmaking authority.

    There have been times when a strong executive has actually made law and other times when the courts have simply “interpreted” into existence a law which Congress never would have passed.

    Because of the relative ease with which a branch of the government can violate the Constitution—and usually get away with it—we cannot put our trust in the mere fact that we have great legal minds to interpret the law correctly. We can only put our confidence in the moral character of Democracy’s parliamentarians–the members of the legal profession. If you’ll excuse the pun, we are the legal guardians of the rest of the people and as much as I dislike saying it, most of the departures that have been made from the true meaning and intent of the Constitution have been made through political thinking, moral weakness or the exercise of personal opinion on the part of lawyers and groups of lawyers.

    This is especially true in those recurrent periods when the Judiciary seems to emerge with a temporary pre-eminence over the other branches. We are in such a period right now. I don’t need to remind you of’ recent controversies surrounding the powers and actions of the U.S. Supreme Court or of the frequent inability of Congress to rewrite the laws which it feels the Court has misinterpreted.

    Because this country is in the legal custody of lawyers, it makes a terrifically big difference what every lawyer does—what he thinks, what he says, what he believes. An obscure lawyer from nowhere can suddenly be catapulted by election or appointment to a judgeship. An irresponsible or overly opinionated law professor can send forth hundreds of young lawyers carrying the hidden genes of legal deformity. An ill-trained or ethically warped lawyer in Congress or a state legislature can write idiocy or injustice into the law.

    Don’t tell me, therefore, that it doesn’t make much difference if a lawyer gets his politics a little mixed up with his legal thinking—not while one man’s opinion can change the nation’s destiny. How often has the country veered radically to the right or left by a five-to-four decision? Every starry-eyed law graduate is a potential judge. It’s all right for him to practice law and have his politics too—in fact, he should—but only if, like a man with two wives, he can do his duty to both of them and keep them apart.

    Neither can the custodians of the Constitution permit their profession to become a clearing-house for placing legal talent and knowledge at the disposal of unethical persons with plans for business conquest or political achievement. We must admit that there is always a big demand for lawyers of easy virtue. For every client who wants a lawyer, there is usually another who wants a fixer.

    We have gone to great lengths, through examining boards and methods, to make sure that lawyers are able. But while a great many aspiring lawyers are eliminated on academic grounds, very few are disqualified from bar membership for deficiencies of character. We have done too little to eliminate the moral misfit, the conscientious non-objector and the lawyer who will sacrifice a principle for a fee.

    I am not an advocate of a closed profession, especially on a basis that would cause lawyers to sit in moral judgment on each other, but I believe that we can lift our professional standards by sincerely reminding each other now and then that we are not obligated to represent every rascal who can pay. Not every client has a just cause. I’m not here to preach a moral sermon, but to make the point that there is a direct and vital relationship between the personal conduct of lawyers and the stability of the law. This is especially true when we fall victim to the ·success philosophy which measures all men in terms of annual income. I have known many a promising attorney who started sacrificing minor principles to get ahead, only to wind up selling the loopholes in the Constitution to keep himself in tuxedoes. There is a point at which the earning of money and the upholding of the Constitution are inconsistent and the patriot is the man who will not trade a dot or a dash in the Constitution for a dollar sign on the ledger.

    None of us here is anything but a patriot and a gentleman—naturally. But there are many patriots and gentlemen in the legal profession who unwittingly mold their younger brethren into something less. Sometimes a young law graduate is taken into a firm and immediately he becomes the victim of that false and superficial standard of professional advancement which requires that in order to get clients he must play harder than he works. He must be able to mingle with the right people, tell an off-color story in a mixed crowd, rhumba with enthusiasm and play a good round of golf. The senior members of the firm expect it of him. And in this new circle of associates he may find that he is more quickly accepted if he just tips his hat to the church on his way to the party than if he stops there en route.

    And very likely he finds that he doesn’t have time for the ordinary responsibilities of a professional man. He is so busy helping a big new client with a corporate merger that he doesn’t have time to serve on a civic committee. Unless he is thinking of running for office, he doesn’t see any reason why he should go to the political convention—and he’s not thinking of running because that’s just something that lawyers do to get ahead professionally, the way doctors have themselves paged in the theater. And at that point he begins to look like a real member of the firm because he is hoping for a big appointment to a bar committee while he ignores the call of the school board and the P-TA. And when he gets the appointment, that makes him a leader—a leader among lawyers at least—and the other members of the firm are proud of him. But who in the meantime, is leading the people? Who is serving in office? Who’s on the committee? Why wasn’t there a good lawyer to speak out for that city ordinance that failed to pass? Why didn’t somebody tell us there were loopholes in that new law before the legislature quit and went home? Why doesn’t somebody tell us the pro and con of this bond issue before we have to vote on it? Why don’t they write the income tax instructions so we can understand them? And whatever happened to the Constitution?

    You can’t get away from it—the American lawyer is the custodian and exponent of the system of laws which the people of this country call freedom. He is thrust into a position of moral and patriotic leadership which he cannot shirk whether he likes it or not. He has an obligation to be wherever freedom’s vital pulse is beating—at the public meetings, the meetings of the local governmental bodies, the budget hearing, and all the other places where the processes of free government depend on the watchful eye of an intelligent public. Wherever those processes are slowed or broken down, we’ve been yelling, “There ought to be a law!” The truth is there ought to be a lawyer.

    Freedom cannot long endure where the practitioners of the law are not its self-appointed guardians. Lawyers wrote the instruments of our liberty and guided this country through its infancy. They did this, even in a day when the issues of life were far simpler than now. The first Americans were people with an ability to separate the false from the true, the important from the unimportant . . . people with the kind of honesty and simplicity that sees through the subterfuges of demagogues and quacks in high places . . . people who were too wise to be fooled, too good to be corrupted, too proud to be abased and too strong to be misgoverned.

    But today’s world is complex and the undercurrents are subtle and hidden. People become confused and discouraged at their inability to understand. Confusion gives way to apathy and apathy to indifference. Unless there are lights along the way, freedom dies.

    Freedom dies in the path over which men and women no longer walk to the polls. It dies on the courthouse lawns where they no longer go to political rallies. It perishes on the concrete steps of the school house where the feet of grown people no longer tread.

    Freedom expires in the dust that collects on church pews that are never filled and in homes where half the family is just sitting around waiting for the other half to get back with the car. It dies of cold feet wherever public officials are afraid to get into hot water. It dies of apathy wherever men and women get into public office through pull and then stop pulling. And it dies wherever lawyers try to get to the top by climbing instead of growing and wherever they are so concerned with the pro and the con that they forget the right and the wrong.

    Am I just a nostalgic dreamer or wasn’t there a time when a client could walk into a lawyer’s office and get action without a fee being discussed first? Wasn’t there a time when an attorney, without stopping to check his minimum fee schedule, grabbed his hat and said, “Let’s go”? Wasn’t there a generation of lawyers who got a gleam in their eye when they talked about the law, instead of about their rich clients?

    That’s the kind of lawyer I aspired to be when I was a youngster. There were no lawyers in my family. Nobody talked me into being one. Nobody told me it was lucrative—and sure enough it wasn’t. But somebody, sometime, caught my mind’s eye with the idea that the preservation of our Democracy is and ought to be primarily the responsibility of those who are trained in the law.

    I used to read of Daniel Webster fighting injustice and dedicating his life to the cause of freedom through constitutional law. I heard of statesmen expounding from a law book the vast, imponderable principles that moved armies to clash on battlefields. And I read of Justice Holmes, dissenting time and again to the point of looking ridiculous—unwilling to prostitute the law or compromise his integrity. And I am not ashamed that I went through law school on a shoestring, a prayer and the hope that I, too, in taking up a noble profession, might serve my fellow men and honor my calling.

    Yes, this nation is badly in need of idealistic lawyers. We will need them as long as there are closed doors in public office, public meetings held in secret and public files marked “confidential”. We need them as long as there are antiquated, harmful laws on the statute books, remaining there only because they suit somebody’s political or financial convenience—and as long as there are loopholes in the law, left there by lawyer-legislators for the benefit of their private practice.

    We need idealists as long as we live under big, bloated governments feeding on the lassitude of a citizenry that wants everybody to have a benefit at everybody else’s expense. We need them as long as this nation is trying to live high on money borrowed from our children’s unborn children. We need idealistic, courageous lawyers as long as we have judges who cannot or will not lay aside their politics when they put on the judicial robes.

    I don’t know what it means to you to be a member of the legal profession, but to me it means that I may have some small part of keeping our country the kind of place where every mother’s son is a future president—where the size of a man is not measured from his feet to his head, but from his head to the sky. I like to believe that because I am a lawyer, I can have a part in bringing up a new generation of Americans to believe that it is better to be right than be rich . . . better to be fair than be famous . . . better to be honest than be exalted . . . better to be good than be clever . . . better to be free than be secure and better to die on their feet than see their fellow Americans living on their knees.

    Yes, the law is a powerful force—a means to obtain gold or fame or power. Rightly used, it gives us liberty. But wrongly used, it cannot obtain for us the priceless intangibles that are beyond its dominion. No man can open a law book and establish his title to a sunrise on the Great lakes. No man can secure by litigation the look of trust and innocence in a child’s eyes. No man can go before a court of law and be awarded the companionship of a true friend or the love and devotion of a faithful wife. And there is no court so high that it can fabricate by decree the sound of a mother’s lullaby or the laughter of a free man.

    No, we have not mastered the law and the Constitution of this mighty nation; nor are we worthy to be its keepers nor advocates of its God-given freedoms until we have learned these simple laws of liberty:

    Freedom is old, not young; yet it is born anew in the first cry of a free man’s son;
    It is not a living thing, yet it dies if we do not love it;
    It is not weak, but strong; yet it must be defended;
    It is light, yet it weighs heavy on him who is without it;
    It is without price, yet it dearly costs the one who sells it;
    It is not small, but great; yet once lost, it is never, never found again.
    Yes, to be born free is an accident;
    To live free is a responsibility;
    But to die free is an obligation.

    [Note: The views expressed in this speech were those of John Ben Shepperd, and do not necessarily represent the views of the John Ben Shepperd Public Leadership Institute or the University of Texas Permian Basin.]

  18. John Ben Shepperd: Levelland Chamber of Commerce

    Leave a Comment

    February 21, 1957

    Chamber of Commerce Banquet (Levelland, Texas)

    I do want to think with you briefly of a few matters of vital Importance to Texas and Texans.

    I know that you were happy to see the democratic processes restored to the people of Duval County last year after a long, hard, bitter fight of six years duration. There were over four hundred legal actions in and out of practically every state and federal court. I thought you might be interested in a brief report of conditions there now.

    We have stopped the stealing and killing in Duval County. Public meetings are now open and by the way, better attended—I dare say—than in any other county in the state. The budgets and official actions of local government agencies are now matters of public record.

    George Parr, the Duke of Duval, no longer controls all the public officials and they are now performing their duties according to law and not according to Parr.

    The hundreds of gun-toting “deputies” are gone. The Commissioners’ Court and the School Board no longer take orders from Parr. He doesn’t sign the checks anymore or keep the records. There’s no more easy money, no handouts, no payoffs.

    County officials don’t charge their personal household expenses, medical bills or gasoline to the County any more. They don’t carry their daughters on the payroll as teachers while they’re away at college. They don’t get their deer rifles at County expense or charge their kids’ cough medicine and castor oil to the School District. Yes, things are different in Duval.

    They’re different for Parr too. His two banks, depositories of County and School funds, long ago were taken out of his hands, closed down by the State. His 55,000 acre ranch, bought with County funds, has gone back to the County and another 4,000 acre hacienda was auctioned off by the authorities to satisfy tax claims against the Duke.

    The Duval County tax rate has been reduced from the highest in the state to one of the lowest. Election coats have been reduced ninety percent and the number of voters almost doubled. People there are now getting roads and other services for their money instead of shrugged shoulders and blank faces.

    Parr has been found guilty of stealing money from the school kids and given five years. This was his fourth conviction. He has been declared a bankrupt by a federal court. The former District Attorney, the former Tax Collector of the rich Benavides School District, the former County School Superintendent and five lessor [sic] officials have been convicted. Over seventy other officials resigned under fire.

    Why did I mention Duval County? Because it’s still possible under antiquated Texas laws to have a reoccurence [sic] of the sordid and sorry mess that has taken place in Duval County.

    A large number of our laws were predicated in the 1850’s. What can we do about these laws? Two years ago the Texas Press Association and I prepared legislation that we called “Open Door to Good Government Bill”. We didn’t get any passed, but we are trying again this session. They are worthy of your support.

    Here is what these bills would do: a law providing indictment outside the county of anyone accused of misusing or embezzling public funds or of destroying, defacing, altering or hiding public records; removal of officeholders who refuse to reveal public records or who stand on the Fifth Amendment and refuse to answer questions about their conduct of office; a statute permitting the County or District Attorney to sue for recovery of funds due the county without authorization of the Commissioners’ Court in cases where the Commissioners’ Court is suspected of misappropriations; a constitutional workable mandatory publications act which would require publication of annual financial statements of all offices, boards, agencies and commissions on all levels of government; a law providing for a special audit to be ordered by the District Judge on the petition of at least thirty percent of the voters of the county; a law requiring publication of the full text of city ordinances; an anti-secrecy bill that would prohibit closed and secret sessions of government bodies from the state capitol to the county precincts; a clear, positive law requiring that all state, county and municipal records shall at all times be open for personal inspection of any citizen and those in charge of such records shall not have the right to refuse this privilege to any citizen.

    If an aroused citizenry will get behind these bills and see that they are enacted into law, it will be impossible for a small group of crooked men to usurp civil liberties and to gain riches at the expense of the taxpayer in any county or city in Texas!

    There is another struggle going on in the courthouses, the state and national capitols that is also worthy of your support and study. That is the battle being waged between the states and the federal government.

    Those of us who are still old-fashioned enough to believe in local autonomy and constitutional government as set forth by the founding fathers in 1787 are being plagued by a power-greedy federal government which through bureaucratic edict is snapping up powers from the states with reckless abandon. We are balked even more by a United States Supreme Court which takes away powers from the states which even the federal government doesn’t want. We firmly believe that this Court has superimposed its own political theory over our constitutional law and that unless something is done, state lines will soon be erased.

    No, states rights must never be a lost cause and we must never stand idly by and see this country lose its freedom in the name of so-called “progress”.

    And where do these things lead us? Why right back to ourselves. We know—if we would only be honest—that federal encroachment couldn’t gallop so fast if there were not considerable backing down on the local level. And that the Constitution wouldn’t be so badly abused in Washington if there weren’t so little use of it at home. What do we need to get things back in proper proportion?

    We need leaders who will put courage into state and local governments by serving in office and executing policies consistent with our basic beliefs. We need business men who can use their heads to find ways of developing local resources and financing local improvements without depending on the federal government for help. When leadership in state and local government breaks down, the people are forced to vote for prosperity instead of working for it.

    Too many would-be leaders will assume leadership only within the safe boundaries of non-partisan and non-controversial fields and refuse to get mixed up in politics because they think it will hurt business or antagonize the boss. Show me a man with no identifiable stand on a clear-cut issue and I’ll show you a man with no identifiable character, patriotism or value to his community.

    We need men who will speak out for private enterprise. A silent voice in the ranks of business is a shout for socialism or worse and a negative business man is almost as bad as a positive Communist. We need bankers who will be quick to give loans to young people just getting started and we need young people who won’t be satisfied with extra benefits and guaranteed income, but who value the freedom to excel on their own. If more people today were spitting on their hands instead of their employers, the country would be a lot better off.

    And what about followship? It takes a heap of living to make a house a home and it takes a heap of good citizenship to make freedom live. Where does freedom die?

    Freedom dies in the path over which men and women no longer walk to the polls. It dies on the courthouse lawn where they no longer attend political rallies. It expires on the concrete steps of the schoolhouse where the feet of grown people never tread. It perishes in church pews that are never filled and in homes where half the family is just sitting around waiting for the other half to get back with the car. Freedom dies wherever people are too stiff-necked to bow their heads and too weak-kneed to walk the straight line of responsibility.

    We need a lot of men and women who are sold on basic American principles. We need men and women who won’t sacrifice a dot or a dash in the Constitution to get a dollar sign on their personal ledger, who can take the ups and downs of life without becoming so concerned with the left and the right that they forget the above and below. We need men and women who’d rather be right than be rich, who’d rather be fair than be famous, who’d rather be honest than be exalted, who’d rather be good than be clever, who’d rather be free than be secure and who’d rather die on their feet than see their fellow Texans living on their knees.

    Are these old truisms too dreamy and idealistic? Will they work in 1957?

    Let’s stop and take stock and see if we need idealistic dreamers who recognize the need for a knowledge, love and devotion of the past. In my humble opinion, this nation needs such idealistic dreamers today more than ever before in our history! We need them as long as there are closed doors in public office, public meetings held in secret and public files marked confidential. We need them as long as there are antiquated, harmful laws on the statute books, remaining there only because they suit somebody’s political or financial convenience, and as long as there are loopholes in the law, left there by lawyer-legislators for the benefit of their private practice.

    We need idealists as long as we live under big, bloated governments feeding on the lassitude of a citizenry that wants everybody to have a benefit at everybody else’s expense. We need them as long as this nation is trying to live high on money borrowed from our children’s unborn children. We need idealistic, courageous men and women as long as we have judges who cannot or will not lay aside their politics when they put on the judicial robes.

    Yea, we need idealistic dreamers as long as we have people in this country who believe that the best things in life can either be bought with money or voted into existence. We idealistic dreamers must constantly remind them that nobody can go down to the bank and file away a title to a West Texas Sunset. Nobody can lay gold on the counter and purchase cherished friendships nor can we purchase at any price the love and companionship of a loyal wife or husband. And all the dazzling wealth of the universe is not half so beautiful as the sound of a mother’s lullaby of the laughter of a strong, free man.

    Because freedom is old, not young; yet it is born anew in the first cry of a free man’s son;
    It is not a living thing, yet it dies if we do not love it;
    It is not weak, but strong, yet it must be defended;
    It is light, yet it weighs heavy on him who is without it;

    It is without price, yet it dearly costs the one who sells it;
    It is not small, but great; yet once lost, it is never, never found again.
    Yes to be born free is an accident;
    To live free is a responsibility;
    But to die free is an obligation.

    [Note: The views expressed in this speech were those of John Ben Shepperd, and do not necessarily represent the views of the John Ben Shepperd Public Leadership Institute or the University of Texas Permian Basin.]

  19. John Ben Shepperd: Nacogdoches Daughters of the American Revolution

    Leave a Comment

    February 16, 1957

    Daughters of the American Revolution luncheon (Nacogdoches, Texas)

    In the last half century modern communications and transportation have reduced this country to a fraction of its former size and have brought people very close together. We can fly from here to the nation’s capital in a few hours or reach it by telephone in a few seconds.

    That fact is both good and bad. It is good because it brings us close to our government and makes us more familiar with those who are running it. But it is also bad because proximity breeds complacency.

    For example, consider how a mother will fret and worry over a child playing in the next block, but may not give it a thought for hours if she knows it is playing in the back yard. But for the classic example, consider how, in the early days of our republic, people were scattered over distances that it took weeks or months to traverse—yet they were vitally interested in what was going on in their government. They were extremely patriotic and understood the meaning of the word “citizenship”.

    But today when government is within easy reaching distance of all of us, the average citizen not only doesn’t seem to know much about it, but doesn’t seem to care. Every time an hour is chopped off the flying time to Washington, some citizen stops worrying about government, another stops reading the editorials and another settles back into an easy chair and says, “Everything is all right; the child is in the yard”.

    This same American who is so quick to cut himself off from the responsibility of concern is also too inclined to separate himself from the great traditions of the past. We are so busy and so wrapped up in our modern age that we tend to forget or ignore the ways of our fathers that were long ago tried and found to be good.

    This complacency complex and isolation from the past began back in the 1880’s. At that time the percentage of voters who took the trouble to vote began to fall off. People began to lose interest in personal participation in government—not just nationally, but also on the local level. It has since become well known that a large part of the public never votes and of those people who do, a great number never vote for anyone but the governor and the sheriff.

    It is significant that the Daughters of the American Revolution came into being at the same time as this tendency toward complacency and modernism and that its purpose was to fight it. Those who founded the organization must have had penetrating vision and a deep understanding of the trends of the day and the needs of the future.

    Since it was founded, the D.A.R. has been an active organization with a constantly growing membership and an influential factor in our national life. But more important than its membership is the great number of young Americans it directly influences through its Junior American Citizens Clubs.

    The D.A.R. is active and vigorous because it is a fighting organization. It is fighting some of the most destructive tendencies that have appeared among us in decades, among them the cheap and cowardly fad of debunking the great leaders and patriots of history. Any day in the week you can pick up cheap magazines and sometimes books with some such title as “The Truth About Washington”, in which a clumsy author has tried to make a little money by ripping to shreds the reputation of a hero whose boots he is not worthy to lick. Reverence for national heroes is one of the most vital and necessary factors in the patriotic education of youth. The Communists are the first to vilify and debunk any historical personage whose stature commands respect.

    Another important fight being waged by the D.A.R. is that of keeping history and civics at the core of every American student’s curriculum. Anti-American forces have long sought to reduce our understanding of our own history and judging by the apparent knowledge of the average citizen, they have not altogether failed. The National D.A.R. Society supports two schools and gives financial assistance to a number of others and I know the teaching of history and government in those schools is given maximum emphasis.

    But the job cannot be left to the schools alone. What is there that we should all do to put the light of freedom in a youngster’s eyes? Is that the teacher’s job alone? Can the teacher do it with textbooks full of such tongue-twisters as “Bicameral Legislature” and “Executive Department”? What do these terms mean to young people who have never seen the State Capitol or watched the Senate in action? Should it disturb us if high school students write on their exam papers that a lobbyist is a hotel clerk and a filibuster is a kind of bomb? If a child is never taken to church, you can expect him to give such answers as those now famous definitions “A Deacon is the lowest kind of a Christian” and a “False Doctrine is when the doctor gives the wrong stuff to a man”. But when a child hasn’t the vaguest idea what offices are in the courthouse, you cannot assume that he hasn’t been to school. You can only assume that his father has never taken him along when he went to pay his taxes, get his car license or register a title with the County Clerk. Sometimes it’s the simplest things in life that make the biggest difference.

    Sometimes children are wiser than grown people and any child can tell you that not every man or woman who yells “God Bless America” is a patriot. One kind will buy a child a ten-cent flag and stand with him to watch a parade on a holiday (which is commendable) but the other kind will take the time and trouble to march a youngster up the courthouse steps to watch a jury trial on a working day, which is a real sacrifice.

    Many parents and teachers have thrown up their hands and lamented that civics, history, government and related subjects have to be taught in school before children are old enough to be interested in such things. That isn’t altogether true. When the City Council passes an ordinance requiring all dogs to be chained or fenced in, my children want to know all about the City Council. That’s the time to take them to a meeting. When the whole country is singing about Davy Crockett and every kid in the block has a coon-skin hat, that’s the time to bring up that phase of Texas history in the classroom. When election day is coming and long-winded candidates have pushed the Lone Ranger off television, that’s the time to bring sample ballots to school and hold a mock election, letting the kids choose which candidate they like best—or resent least. At every election hundreds of ballots are voided because people were never taught the extremely simple procedure of marking them correctly.

    An almost illiterate immigrant was asked to define Democracy during his citizenship examination and he scribbled, “Democracy means one man one vote”. A third-grade child can give a more complete definition but he will never be as good a citizen as that simple immigrant if he is not taught that one man has one obligation to vote and to vote intelligently. Children cannot learn obligations from a book; they learn them by watching their parents and teachers fulfill them. The man or woman who ignores the issues and votes his prejudice is not exercising a constitutional right, but perpetrating a constitutional wrong. When you sit down at the end of the day and read the comics and the sports page, skipping the editorials, you’re not exercising a privilege—you’re taking a liberty and your children are losing one.

    Your interests make you better able than others to benefit from the lessons of the past and to recognize in the affairs of the nation any departure from the principles that have made us and kept us a free people. Your devotion to preserving the ideals and traditions of our fathers, heightened by your unique qualification as the descendants of great Americans, imposes on you a responsibility not only to lead, but to stand sentry duty over a slumbering nation. Our country too often has little hindsight and less foresight. To have one is have the other. The future can be read in the lessons of the past if only we will look for them.

    You ladies of the D.A.R. must help us all to do what Patrick Henry said we must do if we are to remain free—to return frequently and re-examine our beginnings and reconsider the fundamentals of our freedom. It is people like you who give character to a nation—who know the meaning and value of our ways and our heritage. You must continue to rise to your responsibility to guide a nation of people who seem to think Aaron Burr was a kind of haircut, who think Benedict Arnold was some old-time movie actor and who think “Fifty-four Forty or Fight” is the ultimatum of a bill collector.

    There is great need of your guiding hand in this country, if we hope to keep it the kind of place where a rail-splitter can become president . . . where a Philadelphia printer can be ambassador to France . . . where a supposedly crazy little boy who set fire to the schoolhouse can grow up to invent moving pictures, the electric light and sound recording . . . where the size of a man or woman is not measured from the feet to the head, but from the head to the sky . . . where individuality is applauded above cheap collectivism . . . where men and women are free to rise to whatever heights God will lead them and where strong people still dare, as Washington put it, “To walk upright, masterless, doff a hat to none and choose their God”.

    There are those who say that members of the D.A.R. are idealistic dreamers who live in the past—this is 1957, they say, we must move forward, never looking back in this country.

    Let’s stop and take stock and see if we need idealistic dreamers who recognize the need for a knowledge, love and devotion of the past. This nation needs such idealistic dreamers today more than ever before in our history: We need them as long as there are closed doors in public office, public meetings held in secret and public files marked “confidential”. We need them as long as there are antiquated, harmful laws on the statute books, remaining there only because they suit somebody’s political or financial convenience, and as long as there are loopholes in the law, left there by lawyer-legislators for the benefit of their private practice.

    We need idealists as long as we live under big, bloated governments feeding on the lassitude of a citizenry that wants everybody to have a benefit at everybody else’s expense. We need them as long as this nation is trying to live high on money borrowed from our children’s unborn children. We need idealistic, courageous men and women as long as we have judges who cannot or will not lay aside their politics when they put on the judicial robes.

    Yes, we need idealistic dreamers as long as we have people in this country who believe that the best things in life can either be bought with money or voted into existence. We idealistic dreamers must constantly remind them that: nobody can go down to the bank and file away a title to an American sunset. Nobody can lay gold on the counter and purchase cherished friendships nor can we purchase at any price the love and companionship of a loyal wife or husband. And all the dazzling wealth of the universe is not half so beautiful as the sound of a mother’s lullaby or the laughter of a strong, free man.

    Because freedom is old, not young; yet it is born anew in the first cry of a free man’s son;
    It is not a living thing, yet it dies if we do not love it;
    It is not weak, but strong; yet it must be defended;
    It is light, yet it weighs heavy on him who is without it;
    It is without price, yet it dearly costs the one who sells it;
    It is not small, but great; yet once lost, it is never found again.
    Yes, to be born free is an accident;
    To live free is a responsibility;
    But to die free is an obligation.

    [Note: The views expressed in this speech were those of John Ben Shepperd, and do not necessarily represent the views of the John Ben Shepperd Public Leadership Institute or the University of Texas Permian Basin.]

  20. John Ben Shepperd: The Future of State Government—If Any

    Leave a Comment

    March 5, 1957

    Joint Luncheon of the League of Women Voters and the Junior Chamber of Commerce (Odessa, Texas)

    The Future of State Government—If Any

    No two organizations have done as much to encourage the intelligent participation of citizens in public affairs as have the league of Women Voters and the Jaycees. They have both worked hard at getting citizens to pay their poll tax and to vote when election time rolls around. The League sponsors a presentation of objective and impartial information on the issues and candidates involved in each election while the Jaycees work through its Government and Public Affairs Committees.

    While it is probably unnecessary before this audience, I would like to say that I am a firm believer in constitutional government and local autonomy. I sincerely believe that necessary governmental functions should be performed and paid for by that level of government closest to the people. We in Odessa should not call on our state government in Austin to do anything that we can do for ourselves. As Texans, we should not call on the federal government to do anything that we can do in Odessa or Austin.

    To be consistent and realistic with this philosophy, we must resolve ourselves to the simple fact that local and state governments must be prepared both financially and morally to walk the straight line of responsibility. State governments, which are our concern today, must modernize their outmoded methods and functions which cause them to look like old houses in need of a paint job. What can we do in Texas?

    We can reorganize our administrative branch to elminate duplication and overlapping among our conglomeration of 198 state boards and agencies. We can revise and modernize our statutes, which have been without a complete revision for thirty years, even though the Constitution contemplates a revision every decade. We can take stronger measures to leave in the hands of private initiative all functions that can be privately performed and let governmental functions be handled by the lowest possible level of government. We can revamp our tax structure to eliminate inequality and inefficiency. We not only can, but must, extend home rule government to more of our political subdivisions. Texas has only 129 home rule cities and towns out of a total of 3,280 and not one of our 254 counties is a home rule county because the process for becoming such is so tangled and complex that no county can qualify.

    I know that you were happy to see the democratic processes restored to the people of Duval County last year after a long, hard, bitter fight of six years duration. There were over 400 legal actions in and out of practically every state and Federal court. I thought you might be interested in a brief report of conditions there now.

    We have stopped the stealing and killing in Duval County. Public meetings are now open and by the way, better attended—I dare say—than in any other county in the state. The budgets and official actions of local government agencies are now matters of public record.

    George Parr, the Duke of Duval, no longer controls all the public officials and they are now performing their duties according to law and not according to Parr.

    The hundreds of gun-toting “deputies” are gone. The Commissioners’ Court and the School Boards no longer take orders from Parr. He doesn’t sign the checks anymore or keep the records. There’s no more easy money, no handouts, no payoffs.

    County officials don’t charge their personal household expenses, medical bills or gasoline to the County any more. They don’t carry their daughters on the payroll as teachers while they’re away at college. They don’t get their deer rifles at County expense or charge their kids’ cough medicine and castor oil to the School District. Yes, thing. are different in Duval.

    They’re different for Parr too. His two banks, depositories of County and School funds, long ago were taken out of his hands, closed down by the State. His 55,000 acre ranch, bought with County funds, has gone back to the County and another 4,000 acre hacienda was auctioned off by the authorities to satisfy tax claims against the Duke.

    The Duval County tax rate has been reduced from the highest in the state to one of the lowest. Election costs have been reduced ninety percent and the number of voters almost doubled. People there are now getting roads and other services for their money instead of shrugged shoulders and blank faces.

    Parr has been found guilty of stealing money from the school kids and given five years. This was his fourth conviction. He has been declared a bankrupt by a federal court. The former District Attorney, the former Tax Collector of the rich Benavides School District, the former County School Superintendent and five lessor [sic] officials have been convicted. Over seventy officials resigned under fire.

    Why did I mention Duval County? Because it’s still possible under antiquated Texas laws to have a reocurrence [sic] of the sordid and sorry mess that has taken place in Duval County.

    What can we do about these laws? Two years ago the Texas Press Association and I prepared legislation that we called “Open Door to Good Government Bills”. We didn’t get any passed but we are trying again this session. They are worthy of your support.

    Here is what these bills would do: a law providing for indictment outside the county of anyone accused of misusing or embezzling public funds or of destroying, defacing, altering or hiding public records; removal of officeholders who refuse to reveal public records or who stand on the Fifth Amendment and refuse to answer questions about their conduct of office; a statute permitting the County or District Attorney to sue for recovery of funds due the county without authorization of the Commissioners’ Court in cases where the Commissioners’ Court is suspected of misappropriation; a constitutional workable mandatory publications act which would require publication of annual financial statements of all offices, boards, agencies and commissions on all levels of government; a law providing for a special audit to be ordered by the District Judge on the petition of at least thirty percent of the voters of the county; a law requiring publication of the full text of city ordinances; an anti-secrecy bill that would prohibit closed and secret sessions of government bodies from the state capitol to the county precincts; a clear, positive law requiring that all state, county and municipal records shall at all times be open for personal inspection of any citizen and those in charge of such records shall not have the right to refuse this privilege to any citizen.

    If an aroused citizenry will get behind these bills and see that they are enacted into law, it will be impossible for a small group of crooked men to usurp civil liberties and to gain riches at the expense of the taxpayer in any county or city in Texas!

    In Texas we also need a code of ethics for public officials, an effective lobby control bill, penal laws for the Insurance code and a revamping of the code of criminal procedure as well as the penal code.

    I have saved until last the very commendable project of the League in studying the Texas Constitution for a possible revision and that of the Jaycees in promoting annual sessions of the Legislature and increased pay for the legislators.

    A study of the Texas Constitution should be made by every citizen and the League of Women Voters is to be congratulated for initiating and leading such a study. I believe the principal argument for revision can be summed up very simply like this: the model, or ideal, state constitution is one which says, “Jack and Jill shall go up the hill and fetch a pail of water,” leaving it to the legislative discretion to have Jack and Jill comply in the best manner of time. But our present Constitution says “Jack and Jill shall rise, face the door, pick up the bucket, place one foot before the other and proceed in this manner until reaching the top of the hill, et cetera”. It does not allow them to ride up in a station wagon or pipe water into the house because it wasn’t done that way in 1876. We have a bucket Constitution in a pipeline age—much too long and far too detailed, restrictive and cumbersome.

    It is also frequently pointed out that other states have had the good sense to revise their too lengthy and outmoded state charters. At least fifteen states have recently amended their constitutions, have called for conventions or commissions to study or revise them or have submitted the question to the voters with favorable or negative results. Oklahoma voted down a convention in 1950 and Kentucky voters vetoed one in 1947. New Jersey revised its Constitution in 1943 and Missouri did the same in 1945. The movements for revision in many of these states were led by the League of Women Voters.

    But there are many arguments against revision, also. To begin with, there are many people who consider the Constitution too sacred to touch. We revere the legacies of our forefathers and don’t want to change them. The March 2 and April 21 orators group the Constitution with the Magna Charta, the Declaration of Independence and the Sermon on the Mount and deplore any attempt to tamper with it.

    But the Magna Charta and the Declaration of Independence were intended to effect an immediate change at one period in history. They are not the law of the land under which we pass our statutes and pay our taxes. Furthermore, the eternal principles they declare will not be thrown away in a constitutional revision. As for the Sermon on the Mount, it is not a human utterance and will never change or pass away with human institutions.

    A second argument against alteration is the feeling that a constitutional convention or commission might fall under the influence of the wrong people, the wrong political faction or pressure groups and would therefore produce an off-color Constitution. This idea was manifest in the State Bar Convention in 1949 where a resolution was passed urging the Legislature to set up a study but withholding a request for a revision. The legislature failed to pass on the suggestion.

    The primary lesson to be learned from all these arguments on both sides is that what we need is not argument but study.

    We must bear in mind that our Texas Constitution followed a very autocratic and bloody Reconstruction administration in which all appointments and matters of state government were not based on law but upon the executive orders of a carpetbagger governor.

    The architects of our present Constitution came to Austin to do their job and that job, as they saw it, was to slam down the bars against further abuse of authority and delineate all powers so that they could not be stretched or abused by any administration in the future. They wanted a Constitution that was cut, dried and pin-pointed to correct the errors of the immediate present.

    It was not their job to produce a broad, flexible statement of eternal principles that would withstand the ravages of time; their job was to squash the carpetbaggers, curtail the power of the governor, establish an elective judiciary, put an end to malfeasance in office, shorten terms and lower salaries.

    We must also remember that the Constitution we have inherited is not the same one they created and whatever faults lie in it are not entirely those of the original makers. It has acquired over 20,000 words of amendments, some made as late as last year. From 1879 to the present, 2,251 resolutions have been introduced proposing amendments. Of those, 213 have been submitted to the voters and 126 have been voted into effect. So actually, we have revised our Constitution, changing all but six articles, but I think that the members of the League of Women Voters who are present today will agree with me that this is like patches on a crazy quilt and what we need is an objective and intelligent study of the whole document.

    That is exactly what the league is advocating in their House Concurrent Resolution #13, now pending in Austin. It provides that the Texas Legislative Council make a study of each provision of the Constitution to determine historical purpose, meaning given it by courts and its function in contemporary society. The Council shall make this research available to the people and also make recommendations both as to the most suitable means for revision. HR #13 further provides for an eighteen member citizen advisory commission to assist the Council in its work.

    The Texas Junior Chamber of Commerce began a very comprehensive and detailed study of legislative sessions and legislator’s pay nearly two years ago. They came up with the recommendation that we should have annual sessions of our legislature and that the legislators should be paid an annual salary and be required to make their job more than a part-time affair. Their proposal has passed the House of Representatives and is now pending in the Senate. Their original recommendation was $7,500 per year, but HJR #1 passed by the House cut this to $4,800. SJR #15 is still being considered by the Senate in the original amount.

    Critics of both the League of Women Voters and the Junior Chamber of Commerce have said through the years that both these organizations are idealistic dreamers who are not willing to face reality and who deal in intangibles rather than facts. One, they say, is composed of a bunch of women who ought to stay in the kitchen and leave public affairs to men who are more qualified to deal with those things. The other, they say, is composed of a bunch of young kids who are not dry behind the ears.

    While I am not willing to adopt either their premise or their reasons, I am willing to agree with them to the extent that even if you are idealistic dreamers, we need such idealistic dreamers today more than ever before in our history. We need them as long as there are closed doors in public office, public meetings held in secret and public files marked “confidential”. We need them as long as there are antiquated, harmful laws on the statute books, remaining there only because they suit somebody’s political or financial convenience and as long as there are loopholes in the law, left there by lawyer-legislators for the benefit of their private practice.

    We need idealists as long as we live under big, bloated governments feeding on the lassitude of a citizenry that wants everybody to have a benefit at everybody else’s expense. We need them as long as this nation is trying to live high on money borrowed from our children’s unborn children. We need idealistic, courageous men and women as long aa we have judges who cannot or will not lay aside their politics when they put on the judicial robes.

    Yes, we need idealistic dreamers all long as we have people in this country who believe that the best things in life can either be bought with money or voted into existence. We need idealistic dreamers to constantly remind other Texans that nobody can go down to the bank and file away a title to a West Texas sunset. Nobody can lay gold on the counter and purchase cherished friendships nor can we purchase at any price the love and companionship of a loyal wife or husband. And all the dazzling wealth of the universe is not half so beautiful as the sound of a mother’s lullaby or the laughter of a strong, free man.

    Because freedom is old, not young; yet it is born anew in the first cry of a free man’s son;
    It is not a living thing, yet it dies if we do not love it;
    It is not weak, but strong; yet it must be defended;
    It is light, yet it weighs heavy on him who is without it;
    It is without price, yet it dearly costs the one who sells it;

    It is not small, but great; yet once lost, it is never, never found again.
    Yes to be born free is an accident;

    To live free is a responsibility;
    But to die free is an obligation.

    [Note: The views expressed in this speech were those of John Ben Shepperd, and do not necessarily represent the views of the John Ben Shepperd Public Leadership Institute or the University of Texas Permian Basin.]

  21. John Ben Shepperd: Longview Y.M.C.A. Banquet

    Leave a Comment

    March 7, 1957

    Kick-off Banquet for the Y.M.C.A. Fund Drive (Longview, Texas)

    In a dry-goods store in London in 1844 a little group of working men used to gather at lunch time for a few words of prayer. The group was led by a man named George Williams, who wanted to do something for his fellow workers. Out of those little noon-time meetings there grew an organization called the Young Men’s Christian Association, which was so well received by the world that it is now active in 56 countries, has more than 10,000 Associations and in the United States alone owns property valued at more than $300,000,000. That organization is devoted to Christian service—the physical, social and spiritual betterment of mankind.

    About the same time the little group was meeting in London, another little group was meeting in Brussels, Belgium. They too wanted to do something for working men and they formed an association called “The league of the Just”. Out of the meetings of the little group in Brussels there came a book called “The Communist Manifesto”.

    In a little more than a hundred years, Communism, born in the same manner and almost in the same year as the Young Men’s Christian Association, has engulfed two-thirds of the world. Instead of 10,000 Associations, it has 10,000,000. Instead of $300,000,000 in property, it holds 600,000,000 or 700,000,000 human lives in slavery.

    How could two such dynamic movements, born almost out of the same motives, become exact opposites and deadly enemies? Why is the Y.M.C.A. one of the strongest bulwarks our society has against Communism? What is the difference in the two?

    It all goes back to the beginning. George Williams wanted to do something for his fellow workers because he loved them and appreciated them as individual human beings. Karl Marx, who wrote the Communist Manifesto, wanted to help working men because he hated the men they worked for. He didn’t care about working men as individuals—in his book he calls them “the masses”. His doctrine is founded on hate, but the Y.M.C.A. is founded on love. Communism thinks only in terms of masses of people; Democracy thinks in terms of individuals and recognizes the value and dignity of every one of them. The Y.M.C.A. is the embodiment of all of the principles of Christianity and Democracy.

    Oddly enough, both Communism and Democracy want all men to be equal. But again they are opposite. Communism says, “I’m as good as you are, so I’ll pull you down”. Democracy says, “You are as good as I am, so I will lift you up”. The Communists want to lift the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer. Democracy wants to lift the wage earner by lifting the wage payer so he can pay better wages.

    The Y.M.C.A. is dedicated to lifting human lives—to bringing up young men and women in the healthy associations of Christian fellowship. It is more than a mere organization—it is a dynamic idea. It is a faith that men and women are still made in the image of God. It is an Association of Christian hearts and minds working together to build a better world and better people to live in it.

    One of the most outstanding and constructive activities of the Y.M.C.A., in which I have had the honor to take part, is the “HI-Y Youth in Government” program. It is a genuine inspiration to see young people come to the State Capitol and assume control of the legislature and the government for a day, pass bills, elect officers and do everything they will be doing when they actually do become the governors and legislators of tomorrow. It is surprising to see how ably they do the job and even more surprising to see how much they enjoy it and how much they learn by doing it. The HI-Y Youth in Government program is one of the most constructive steps any organization has ever taken to preserve our American and Christian way of life.

    It is vitally important that such things be done. Our young people are going to have to be better citizens than their fathers and mothers or they will never survive the era into which Communists and the atom bomb have carried us.

    The Longview Y.M.C.A. over the past two and one-half years has been participating in programs that are designed to do just that. It now serves thousands of youth in clubs, in teams, in HI-Y and Tri-HI-Y, in church basketball leagues, industrial leagues, hobby and craft groups and gymnastic groups.

    I was reared in, love and respect the rugged individualism of Longview and Gregg County folks. You know that while I am still an East Texan at heart I now live in West Texas and you don’t want an outsider telling you how to run your business, but I say to you with all the sincerity at my command that the program of the Y.M.C.A. is worthy of your financial, physical and moral support.

    Tonight it has reached the point that if these commendable programs are to be continued and expanded, it needs a permanent home.

    I flew to this meeting from Washington, D.C. and I had occasion to discuss with several of our law makers the speech that President Eisenhower recently made to Congress on the State of the Union.

    On the way back here, I began to wonder and speculate on what we, as individuals, would say if we were required to go before Congress some day and give a report on the State of the Citizen. I am afraid too many Americans would have to report something like this: “I am in pretty good shape except for my coordination. My right hand doesn’t know what my left hand is doing. On one side I have a fist that I shake at the government demanding more economy and less socialism, but on the other side I have a palm that I use to accept handouts from the public treasury. My eyes are not too good either; whenever I see the word ‘government’, I think it says ‘givernment’.

    “Still, I am in pretty good shape except for my inferiority complex. When somebody tells me I had better write my Congressman about a public issue, I feel as though he wouldn’t pay any attention to little old me, a mere taxpayer. He knows a lot more than I do about such things.

    “Yes, I am in pretty good shape except for my mental depression. I worry about corruption and waste in high places. But of course I can’t do anything about it so I just try to forget it. I know several good Christian men who wanted to run for public office and they would have done something about it, but naturally I had to advise them to stay out of politics. It’s a corrupt business.

    “I was in good shape in 1956 when I went to the polls with millions of other people who were unaccustomed to voting, like me. We really turned out for that one and we are all bragging about it. But sometimes I feel as though this bragging is like the cackling of an old hen that lays once every four years. It seems a decent hen ought to lay more often than that.

    “Of course I vote at other times too—I vote by default. I vote to tear down the church by not attending faithfully. I vote to destroy the home by not spending enough time with my family. And I vote to ruin our educational system by not supporting its activities nor helping the teacher to teach the fourth ‘r’—responsibility.”

    That isn’t the kind of report we want to make to Congress. We expect the President of the United States to tell us the Union is in a good state or show good reason why it is not. We have no right to demand such responsibility from him or anyone else in high office until you and I as citizens can get our personal house in order—until we can stand up before Congress and say, “In all points, the State of the Citizen is great!”

    I think we can still do that if we really believe in the principles the Y.M.C.A. stands for; if we can honestly say that in spite of the influence of cheap foreign philosophies, we will keep our country the kind where men and women are masters of their destiny . . . where children are allowed to grow up in Christian love and fellowship . . . where excellence is allowed to excel . . . where a young man can start from scratch and become a millionaire . . . where individuality is applauded above cheap collectivism and uniformity . . . where men and women are free to climb to whatever heights God will lead them, to become what He wants them to be and by their strength, strengthen others. That is Christian Democracy and thank God it lives in the Y.M.C.A.

    Yes, we need organizations like the Y.M.C.A. as long as we have Americans who must be constantly reminded that nobody can go down to the bank and file away a title to an American sunset. Nobody can lay gold on the counter and purchase cherished friendships, nor can we purchase at any price the love and companionship of a loyal wife or husband. And all the dazzling wealth of the universe is not half so beautiful as the sound of a mother’s lullaby or the laughter of a strong, free man.

    Because freedom is old, not young; yet it is born anew in the first cry of a free man’s son;
    It is not a living thing; yet it dies if we do not love it;
    It is not weak, but strong; yet it must be defended;
    It is light, yet it weighs heavy on him who is without it;
    It is without price, yet it dearly costs the one who sells it;
    It is not small, but great; yet once lost, it is never, never found again.
    Yes to be born free is an accident;
    To live free is a responsibility;
    But to die free is an obligation.

    [Note: The views expressed in this speech were those of John Ben Shepperd, and do not necessarily represent the views of the John Ben Shepperd Public Leadership Institute or the University of Texas Permian Basin.]

  22. John Ben Shepperd: Gulf Coast Press Association

    Leave a Comment

    April 6, 1957

    Gulf Coast Press Association (Richmond, Texas)

    I tell you truly, it’s good to be a private citizen again—one of the nine million laughing, bragging characters who inhabit the great State of Texas. Texans continue to amaze the world with their energy and expansive living. They are drilling 25,000 oil wells a year, running 292,000 farms and 11,000 factories, carrying 14 billion dollars in life insurance, keeping 2 and l/4 billion on deposit in their 980 banks and getting a substantial part or the 500 million embezz1ed in the U. S. annually—some would have you believe we have been getting all of it.

    Of course, our losses are big too. We’re pumping 7 and 1/2 million acre feet of water out of the ground every year, losing 75% of all the water that goes into our rivers and streams, watching 722,000 acres of valuable top soil blown away each year—and believe you me, most of it blows through Odessa. Of course, it makes better Americans—you’ve always heard that everyone ought to have a little soil and I guess it’s true even if it’s in our eyes, nose and hair. Another great loss in Texas is keeping 165,000 students in college.

    But we have a lot of fun. We catch 140 million pounds of fish each year, start 1,800 forest fires, have about 1 million teeth pulled, pay 2 and 1/2 billion dollars in federal taxes and seriously injure a farm resident every half minute.

    We manage to stay pretty busy too. We’re running about 70,000 corporations and 121,000 business establishments, including 154 independent shoeshine parlors, 58 turkish baths, 20 detective agencies, 31 diaper services and an unknown number or uranium sitting ditches. On top of that we lend more than 3,000 dog heads to Austin every year to be examined for rabies, indict some 15,000 fellow citizens, commit about 350,000 major and minor crimes, pluck more than 8 and 1/2 million Yankee tourists and pick about 4 million bales of cotton. It’s easier to pick a tourist than to pick cotton. More fun, too. I’ve tried both and I know. 1956 tourist pickings were down 7.9% or $32,636.753.00 under 1955, but those that came stayed 4 days longer and spent 18¢ per person per day more–which illustrates another axiom—you can’t milk a cow on the run.

    You can learn a great deal of vital information from statistics. For example, the Federal Government now owns 1.5% of all the land area of Texas, and 754,000 acres of it is devoted to wildlife refuges, while offices for federal employees have been crowded onto a mere 227 acres. This proves that the bureaucrats are giving the country to the birds.

    No sir, I never get tired of talking about Texans and the things they do. Progress never stops. Every year about 25,000 Texas farm people migrate to the city and the census bureau says that’s the trend all over the country. Besides the people who have left the farm in the last five years, some 3 and. 1/2 million horses and mules have made the supreme sacrifice to make room for tractors. In 1940 every farmer could feed 11 people, the bureau says; now he can feed 20. But that’s no way to get rid of those dead mules.

    They call Texas the land of the big rich and I guess they’re right. If all the minerals, crops and livestock in a given year were divided up among us, we’d each get 7/8 of a cow, l/4. of a hog, 4 pounds of pecans, 104 barrels of 0il and 1/80 of a jackass.

    But our greatest wealth is our people. 80% of all Texans were born in the state and in 1946 for the first time in our history, there were more peop1e in Texas than there were cattle. That’s because the people can live without water. At least 2/3 of them can –the other 1/3 are teetotalers and worried about the drouth. It’s so dry I understand there’s a bill in the legislature to let in wetbacks, just to get the moisture.

    About 60% of our Texas citizens are church members, but only’ about 5% are tithers and the average Protestant minister makes only $4,000 a year. More than half of all Texans are women and in the presidential election last year, for the first time in Texas history, the women’s vote equalled [sic] the men’s. That cut down the teetotalers among the men. They’re smoking 8 and 1/2 million packs of cigarettes a year and consuming a 100 million dollars worth of alcohol.

    The stork is making more stops in Texas than he used to—maybe too dry to fly over—he’s making about 120 stops out of every possible 1,000 eligible homes and, of course, a few that ain’t eligible. Every 16th child born in the United states is a Texan and Texans are born four times as fast as they die. That mightly discouraging to the rest of the country.

    Texas has enough wealth for everybody to be born with a silver spoon in his mouth—however, this would be over-gilding the lily since the little tike’s share of the national debt when he arrives is $1,625 and his tax bill for this year is $600.

    Every cloud has its silver lining though. The chemical elements in the human body today are worth slightly more than a dollar which is 14 cents more than they were worth 20 years ago. So that only makes new born babies $2,224 in debt.

    However, the increased value of chemical elements in the human body is not included in the 3 billion dollar investment of the chemical industry in Texas.

    372,000 Texans are working for the government—or I should say are on the public payroll—119,074 are federal employees; 52,757 state and 201,123 local governmental agencies.

    Each person in Texas uses 67 1/2 gallons of water per day for domestic purposes, but this doesn’t include the water it takes to make the coffee consumed by the 372,000 Texans on the public payroll.

    1/3 of all our women over 14 are working nowadays, 10,000 of them in the state government, and they make up 36% of all the automobile drivers in the state. Seems more than that when you get on highways. Of those 1,388,000 women drivers,118 are old ladies 85 years of age. But it you think that’s something, 249 women who have drivers’ licenses listed their age as over 85 and I can tell you from observation, that’s also their driving speed.

    The average married woman nowadays is 3 years younger than her husband and lives 6 years longer, so the average widowhood is 9 years. There are about 150,000 bachelors in Texas and twice as many widows. All of which means that if you or I were a woman over 85 and had that kind of competition, we’d move pretty fast too.

    At lease [sic] I know I have found my crowd when I’m back with the Gulf Coast Press Association.

    Since you honored me with this spot on your program in Brenham in 1954, lots of things have happened. Your papers and communities have continued to grow and I have become a statesman. A statesman is a successful politician—a successful politician is one who quit.

    Someone asked program chairman, Jack Shannon, why he invited an old broken-dawn politician to talk here. Jack told them there were two reasons. First, he’ll come when you invite him and second, he’ll do it for nothing.

    There are a number of things I would 1ike to think with you on for a few minutes.

    First, our legislative program. Vern Sanford has brought you a detailed report on the status of TPA’s Open Door to Good Government Bills. I’m frankly disappointed that these bills haven’t already been enacted into law. I would hate to think that the newspapers of Texas are not powerful enough to overcome the objections of a handful of greedy politicians, both in and out of the legislature, who for some reason feel that we shouldn’t have laws prohibiting secrecy in government, a full disclosure of the financial affairs of mine and your public offices and laws that would prevent a reoccurrence of the sordid mess in Duval County.

    We should all bear in mind that these are good bills and that there is a real and actual need for them. We should also bear in mind that if we really want these bills we can get them—if we are willing to work. As a matter of fact, if those in this room would give a day’s time this next week, we could get 75% of them passed within ten days.

    What is the opposition to our proposed legislation?

    We are having to combat the apathy and indifference on the part of many legislators, Many have ties back home with local machines or would be machines who had rather operate behind closed doors and under the table.

    We are catching our proportionate part of the general confusion that exists in Austin—the morale and. spirit of legislators is at an all-time low. This, in my opinion, can be turned to our advantage. What better answer to a critical public than to be able to show that legislation of this type has been passed.

    The specific objection is made that these bills are proposed with a selfish interest—that is, some will require payment by local governmental bodies to papers for certain publications. We should bear in mind that only 1/3 of the bills recommended would and that the amount of money involved here won’t hurt any local governmental body, nor will it enrich any of you.

    In any event, we mustn’t let this make any difference. The same criticism is levelled against business men when they advocate a general tax cut; against lawyers when they seek to amend procedural laws or get increases in judge’s salaries; against banks when they want to make additional loans or close on Saturdays; against farmers when they want soil conservation or flood-control—and so on ad infinitum.

    Another criticism, and by the way a more fundamental one, is that these proposed measures tend to take power away from local governmental bodies and put the State of Texas in the position of telling localities how to run their business. This is important in a state like ours that puts great stock—at least when convenient—in the theory of local autonomy

    We then have to answer the fundamental question—do the means justify the result? If we answer that question in the affirmative, we must undertake the job of convincing our legislators.

    When you consider Duval County, the Port Arthur Communist crisis, the Veterans’ Land, Insurance Promoters, the closed doors of too many local governmental bodies, all plus the fact that our antiquated laws not only permit but invite corruption, we actually can reach only one conclusion—our present system has failed in these matters and for the sake of the future of Texas, we are going to have to make changes.

    Governmental wise, Texas and the nation are in one of their most critioa1 periods. This year government will take 119 billion dollars from the pockets of taxpayers. The federal government 86 billion; state and local. 33 billion. Taxes in total have doubled in 7 years. Government is now taking 1 dollar out of each 3 of national income.

    This is far past the point that historians and students of government have set as the line of demarcation between democracy and socialism.

    Thinking people agree that not only must the trend be stopped, but it must be reversed. One of the most effective ways this can be done is to be sure that we get a dollar’s worth of value tor every tax dollar we pay. What better way can we insure this than to insist on a full disclosure of all financial matters and the abolition of the closed door in government.

    What else can we do? As citizens and newspaper men and women we can work to put more responsible people in our government—individuals who appreciate the value of freedom, free enterprise and the tax dollar. Men and women who can and will execute policies consistent with our basic beliefs of economy, efficiency and integrity—office holders dedicated to the fundamental concept of getting and keeping government out of business and undertaking only those services that government should perform, leaving other things to individual and private initiative.

    The greatest fault of the American people is our materialism and lack of real concern for good government. Half of us are trying to buy all the good things of life with money and the other half is trying to vote them into existence.

    But who can open up a safe deposit box and file away a title to a Texas sunset? Who can lay gold on the counter and buy the look of trust and innocence in a child’s eyes? Can anybody dig into his pocketbook and buy a good conscience or a lifetime of proud accomplishment? No man can trade hard cash for the companionship of a true friend, or purchase at any price the love and devotion of a good woman. And all the money in all the treasuries of the world is not worth the sound of a mother’s lullaby or the laughter of a free man.

    Because freedom is old, not young; yet it is horn anew in the first cry of a free man’s son;
    It is not a living thing, yet it dies if we do not love it;
    It is not weak, but strong; yet it must be defended;
    It is light, yet it weighs heavy on him who is without it;
    It is without price, yet it dearly costs the one who sells it;
    It is not small, but great; yet once lost, it is never, never found again.
    To be born free is an accident;
    To live tree is a responsibility;
    To die free is an obligation.

    [Note: The views expressed in this speech were those of John Ben Shepperd, and do not necessarily represent the views of the John Ben Shepperd Public Leadership Institute or the University of Texas Permian Basin.]

  23. John Ben Shepperd: Our Debt to God and Caesar

    Leave a Comment

    April 8, 1957

    Christian Men’s Fellowship (Paris, Texas)

    Our Debt to God and Caesar

    The purpose of the Christian Church’s Christian Men’s Fellowship group is two-fold: first, to give us the opportunity to visit with and become better acquainted with our fellow members; second and even more important, to call attention to the fact that every Christian layman is equally responsible with his minister for proclaiming the Gospel, for ministering to the needs of his fellow Christians and others and for guiding his church along the path of spiritual rectitude.

    Too often we let the minister carry the whole burden. We forget that the church is a body of Christian believers, all of whom are co-workers, and that the church is at least designed to function, if necessary, without a minister at all. The wise old book of Proverbs tells us that “the locusts have no king, yet they go forth all of them by bands”. That’s more than you can say for a great many churches. In many a present-day church if the minister should suddenly die, the church would develop rigor mortis before he did.

    What does the layman owe to his church? In the old days before Jesus came and gave the ancient law of Moses a deeper spiritual application, it was enough for a person to go into the temple, buy a pigeon, offer it as a blood sacrifice, toss in his tithe and spend his day keeping track of hundreds of little rules and laws of behavior. These rules became so devoid of spiritual meaning that the scribes and lawyers made small fortunes helping so-called believers find the loopholes that would allow them to send their aged parents to work farms instead of supporting them, without compromising religious principle.

    Is it enough for the Christian layman today to fill a church pew on Sunday morning, drop a dollar in the plate with such reluctance that you’d think he was making a blood sacrifice and sit rehearsing yesterday’s ball game or next week’s business problems while the man in the preacher’s box assumes the whole burden of evangelism?

    Is it permissible for a Christian to listen to the Sermon on the Mount with particular interest in what it does not forbid him to do? In Jesus’ day the people used to go to the Master and say “Lord, what must I do to be saved?” Too many of us now are asking, “Lord, how much can I get away with and still be decent?”

    It was enough in the old days to give a pigeon and a tithe. But the Christian layman today is obligated to give much more—namely himself and all he has.

    I’m sure you have read about the custom among many of the Moslems whereby every year they weigh the Aga Khan on the scales and give him his weight in gold, diamonds or other precious substances. Then ceremonially, he recognizes their devotion and generously returns it. God too gives back everything we give Him if we give it all and if we give it without reservation. But if we tithe only in the expectation that God will say, “Because you have been faithful in little, I will give you much,” or if we lay down a sacrifice only in the hope that we’ll get it back with interest, then we are not Christians, but gamblers, betting on God the way we would bet on a horse in the fifth race at Saratoga. A Christian layman is simply a Christian who lays—lays everything—on the altar of God and takes his orders from a Power that is above governments, above social custom, above economic necessity, above the laughter and derision of friends, above human attachments, above human law.

    And what does God tell us to do when we have given ourselves to Him? What did Jesus tell His disciples after they had given themselves, been released from the old Jewish law and made subject to God’s spiritual grace? He said, “Go ye into all the world . . . I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves.”

    And He told them to pay their taxes, to do what the Roman soldiers told them to do and to give to Caesar whatever tribute they owed him. He told them to give no one cause for complaint about the citizenship of a Christian.

    That seemingly inconsistent command has caused a great deal of trouble down through history when followers of Christ were torn between their duty to God and their duty to serve the government under which they lived. It caused hundreds of Huguenots to be slaughtered by the King of France. It caused trouble during the Second World War when numbers of a certain religious sect refused to salute the American flag. And it causes trouble today when a Christian cannot give Caesar what is his and God what is His because there isn’t enough to go around. There isn’t enough money in the paycheck sometimes, to give thirty percent to Caesar and ten percent to God. Sometimes there isn’t enough time to serve on the school board and the church board too.

    Many a dedicated Christian is therefore inclined to gravitate to the church and leave the job of government to the politicians.

    If we as Christians cannot apportion our energies justly between the duties of citizenship and those of the church, if we cannot divide our time and attention fairly between God and Caesar, then we are guilty of a divorce that God never intended. We are failing in our duty to go into all the world and to bring Caesar in subjection to God.

    I realize of course that there are too many church members who give the church nothing but their presence every Sunday, if they even give that. But I’m not talking about them because you can be pretty sure they’re not giving Caesar anything either. I’m talking about sincere church members who are reluctant to devote time to secular things that could be devoted to church work. While they are giving time to the church—as necessary and commendable as that is—a rascal attends the political convention, a crooked politician gets the nomination and a scoundrel gets into office to wield power over Christian lives and exact tribute from Christian pocketbooks. As Peter Marshall put it, people who don’t stand up for something are likely to fall for anything. The voice of the people is not the voice of God if all the Christians have laryngitis.

    Every nation gets the government it deserves. If men are good, government cannot be bad. But a lot of Christians are inclined to shirk from public office because they’ve heard politics is dirty business and they don’t want to hob-nob with crooks. They don’t want to be called birds of a feather. If that’s the way they feel, they don’t belong in church because church is a hospital for sinners, not a club for saint. Christ cannot hold sway in the national or state capital, nor even in the county seat, except through Christian citizens and Christian officeholders.

    If we could have Christians only in one place or another but not in both, would it be better to have them in the church committee or in the city council? Singing in the choir or serving on the grand jury? And when it comes to politics and activity in public affairs, is it better for Christians to go forth as sheep in the midst of wolves as Christ commanded or to hover around the church hearth and chirp like crickets? Since when is it Christian to stand in the church door and cast horrified glances at the sinners in the city hall?

    When I urge you to take a greater part in civic affairs as a Christian, I am not saying “Go” but “Come”. As a former public official, I have fought the battle of which I speak. They say no man is better able to judge what is good than he who has endured evil.

    The person who enters the turbulent waters of public life strives to reconcile the public welfare and the public will, to keep God and country above party, persons and private interests, weather the ups and downs of public opinion, repel the tempter and ignore the flatterer, bear the criticisms of rivals and friends alike and all the while maintain close fellowship with Christian friends in Christian service. He realizes more fully than ever that “Ye cannot serve God and mammon”. You have to serve God with mammon.

    What is the mammon that God has given us? He gave us a benign form of government, founded on the same principle that motivated even Christ’s sacrifice for us—the supreme happiness of the individual. Shall we throw away God’s earthly blessings and expect him to heap spiritual blessings upon us? Will you carry a cross and leave others the burden of the flag?

    The Scriptures condemn the man who said to the poor, “Be ye warmed and filled”, but gave them no clothing or food. Let no Christian, therefore, say to government, “Be ye clean”, until he carries a broom into the courthouse. Nobody has the right to yell “Throw the rascals out!” unless he is ready to step in. Let no man or woman sit complacently warming a church pew while outside the church door there are shirked duties and unchallenged wrongs. Let’s not sit and hope and pray for Christian peace and soul while the Caesars who govern us make wrong choices and bad decisions for want of Christian counsel.

    What is the alternative? The triumph of the most serious threat to Christianity and democratic freedom—Communism. Communism is the philosophy that comes and fills the vacuum where there is no God. It is a weed that grows in the path over which Christians no longer walk with God to the polls. It springs up on the courthouse lawn where they no longer go with Him to political rallies. It springs from the concrete step of the schoolhouse where grown people never set foot.

    Communism is a cobweb that spreads itself over the empty seats in the civic committee meeting and in homes where half the family just stands at the door waiting for the other half to get back with the car. It flourishes wherever people trade their Christian overalls for the prissy pants of piousness . . . wherever they can see no connection whatever between the Bible and a ballot . . . wherever they have forgotten that a Christian soul is an intangible, invisible object with a very stiff and tangible backbone . . . wherever men and women are looking for a helping hand at the end of somebody else’s arm.

    So what do we owe to Caesar in the Twentieth Century? What is the great need of Democracy today? What is the duty of the Christian layman?

    We need Christians in public affairs—citizens who will follow their conscience instead of the crowd. We need men and women who had rather be right than rich . . . who had rather be fair than famous . . . who had rather be good than clever . . . who had rather be free than be secure . . . who had rather die on their feet than to get on their knees to anyone but God.

    There was once a king who called his wise men to him and said, “Give me a sentence that will be appropriate in all times and in all places.” The wise men deliberated a while and replied, “’This too shall pass away.”

    But human liberty like everything else is subject to God’s immutable laws and as long as there is a heaven and an earth, it need not pass away—if only Christian citizens will add to their faith this simple creed:

    Freedom is old, not young; yet it is born anew in the first cry of a free man’s son;
    It is not a living thing, yet it dies if we do not love it;
    It is not weak, but strong; yet it must be defended;
    It is light, yet it weighs heavy on him who is without it;
    It is without price, yet it dearly costs the one who sells it;
    It is not small, but great; yet once lost, it is never, never found again.
    To be born a free man is gift of God;
    To live one is a responsibility;
    To die one is an obligation.

    [Note: The views expressed in this speech were those of John Ben Shepperd, and do not necessarily represent the views of the John Ben Shepperd Public Leadership Institute or the University of Texas Permian Basin.]

  24. John Ben Shepperd: No Place for Silent Partners

    Leave a Comment

    April 11, 1957

    Spring Conference of the Seventeenth District of the Texas Congress of Parents and Teachers (Odessa, Texas)

    No Place for Silent Partners

    I think it only proper at the outset of my thoughts with you tonight to pay tribute to the founders of the Parents and Teachers movement that has been of such tremendous benefit to the cause of freedom and humanity.

    I have always thought that the history books are snobbish in their treatment of human events. They tend to exclude from prominent mention the names and accomplishments of many personages whose total influence upon our national life is actually greater than that of many presidents, generals and statesmen. In particular I am thinking of two women—Alice Birney and Phoebe Apperson Hearst—whose battles for an ideal have made a deeper impression on the face of time than many clashes of arms that have received epic treatment in the chronicles of the last hundred years.

    I have wondered, since I first became acquainted with the history of the Congress of Parents and Teachers years ago, if ever an orator stood up in the marble halls of Greece, or a senator in the forums of Rome or a statesman on the floor of Congress to expound a nobler principle, broach a more vital issue or challenge a more insidious wrong than did those two women. They moved mountains in a day and age when any woman who tried to move anything bigger than a knitting needle was treading on dangerous ground.

    It took courage to speak out for child welfare when the wheels of industry were turning on child labor or to stand up for universal and equal education when powerful influences still held that mass education was a danger and a curse.

    Those two women had the audacity to assert that every little mind was entitled to enlightenment; that every little body was entitled to health and that every little soul deserved spiritual guidance. They believed that the future of this nation and of freedom in the world depended on the intelligence, the morality and the patriotic devotion of all the people’s children.

    These women were not pioneer mothers who braved the hardships of the frontier to give birth to Lincolns and Houstons in backwoods cabins. Mrs. Birney and Mrs. Hearst were more fortunate; they were able to give their children every advantage and to send them out to make their mark in history. Mrs. Hearst’s son, William Randolph, was born with a silver spoon in his mouth and became one of the most important figures in the history of American journalism. Mrs. Birney was a woman of considerable culture and social attainment and for most women it would have been enough to pass these advantages on to their daughters as she did.

    But these two women were not satisfied to take care of their own while other children went without the same advantages. They enunciated the belief that what is right and good for the most favored child is right and good for all children.

    It was Mrs. Birney who conceived the idea of a national organization dedicated to the welfare of children. She interested Mrs. Hearst in the idea and in 1897 they called a meeting in the hope of setting the plan in motion. They hoped to attract as many as fifty people.

    I like to imagine how happy and surprised they were when more than a thousand people crowded through the door. There were businessmen, teachers, clergymen, mothers, fathers, officeholders—even an old bachelor from California, one of those rare citizens who knew he was not only his brother’s keeper, but also the guardian of his brother’s children. A mother of seven youngsters was there, in a day when baby sitters were at a premium.

    The National Congress of Mothers, organized that day sixty years ago, was an immediate success and it has been a success ever since, just as any organization will succeed which sincerely devotes itself to promoting the welfare of children in home, school, church and community.

    Only three year’s ago I had the privilege of witnessing a parallel incident that to me was no less inspiring than the formation of the organization thot has become the P-TA.

    In February, 1954, less than two weeks after we moved into Duval County, where we found the school district being looted and the children being subjected to a system of unbelievable discrimination based on the relationship of their parents to a political boss, an organization was formed called the United Mothers and Wives of Duval County.

    Their purpose was, and I quote “To protect our children from the influence of political bosses and to combat all persons or forces in Duval County which destroy or distort the ideals of American Democracy taught in the classroom. To protect our children from any effort to instill in them a fear of individuals or to make them afraid of punishment for speaking, thinking or voting according to their own conscience.”

    Can you imagine such a statement being necessary anywhere in Texas or America today?

    The hundreds of mothers in that organization were tired of seeing needy children denied free lunches and milk at the school cafeteria while others got free meals whether they were needy or not because their parents voted the way they were told.

    The mothers were tired of not being able to find out where the school board held their meetings, who the trustees were, what the school budget was or who was on the school payroll. They were tired of seeing their children gradually corrupted by a system of boss rule that reached into the life of the smallest child in the classroom.

    Those women were heroic too. Only a few weeks before we opened our investigations in Duval County, most of them were afraid to drive through the county seat after dark and nothing but a matter of life or death could have induced them to enter the courthouse. It was George Parr’s courthouse and if he didn’t like you, you stayed away from there.

    But overnight those women became an army. To this day they are religiously attending the meetings of the school boards and the Commissioners’ Court in such numbers that they often stand out on the lawn. They attend every session of court; they vote in every election; they debate every local issue and take a stand on it; they demand an answer to every question; they are undoing forty years of bossism, corruption and fear.

    You know, the more you think about it, forty years was an awfully long time to take the people of Texas to get around to the job of restoring simple democratic processes to the people of Duval County.

    Yes, this organization has made a mighty difference in Duval County, just as the P-TA has made a vast difference in this country. It would be impossible to enumerate the accomplishments of this worthy organization in these sixty years. There is no yardstick to measure the volume of public opinion the P-TA has swayed or the votes it has mustered for better and wiser legislation.

    The P-TA’s of Texas alone have raised millions of dollars for new school facilities, provided for physical examinations for school children, made great improvements in safety, given hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships, fought for increases in teachers’ salaries, promoted the building of hundreds of new schools and placed multiplied dozens of laws on the books to promote the welfare of children.

    But you and I know the real and great contributions made to our country by this institution that we know as the P-TA do not consist merely in legislation or other visible milestones of progress. The real achievements are the unchronicled little sacrifices made by millions of unsung parents and teachers who have established a protective bond of personal concern around the children of our communities.

    There is no appropriation of public funds that can bring the comfortable atmosphere of home into the classroom. It depends on the women who find the time to be room mothers, put curtains on the windows, visit the class, work with the teachers and provide the extra magazines and other teaching aids for which there is no provision in the school budget.

    It is you who raise the money for the debating team to go and compete in other schools, for classes to visit the State Capitol and for the hundreds of other activities that would otherwise be impossible. The strength of this organization is in the quality of its basic human relationships. It provides the means to give advice and counsel to teachers in solving the multitude of problems they face every day. Teachers are like officeholders—they’re the lonesomest people in the world. They work hard and long and tangle with problems, conflicts and frustrations. They are as dedicated as ministers and just as poorly paid. Like politicians, they can wage just about any fight they have to without giving up, but the hardest and most discouraging is the fight against apathy and indifference to the ideals and principles they are struggling to keep alive.

    It means a great deal to teachers to know that others are behind them. It means a lot to be able to go to somebody and say, “Johnny Jones is not getting enough to eat at home,” or “Mary Smith is timid and embarrassed because she hasn’t a decent dross to wear to school”. They can then sit back and watch the P-TA committees or individuals in action as they “work in a mysterious way their wonders to perform”.

    It means a lot to have someone at hand who can answer a child’s need for a little more attention and affection and who can work to give all children the understanding help and attention that we want our own to have. This is what makes an idea work. This is what makes an organization successful. This is what makes the P-TA important and endears it to the hearts of the people—these little things that count.

    It is these same little things that make all the difference when it comes to realizing the ultimate objective of the Founders of the P-TA—raising up responsible citizens who are competent to defend and preserve their heritage of freedom.

    Yes, the child, the parents and the teacher are partners in this great cause and there is no room for silent partners.

    Our boys and girls must understand the value of private property, respect for their elders and have faith in our American ideals. They must have courage. Courageous children are not reckless children. Courageous children are not immoral. They are not lazy or irresponsible and are not easily swayed by foreign “isms”. The greatest emotional need of young people today is faith—faith in their parents, faith in their teachers, faith in their country and faith in their God. To help them have faith and be working and thinking members of this partnership, we need all the resources of the home, church and school. They cannot have faith in people who are fearful and pessimistic, in democratic institutions that are not put to use, nor in a God who is ignored.

    Our children cannot be full partners if they believe, as too many do, that politics is crooked, that everything is fixed and that laws are made for poor people and suckers.

    I’ve heard them say “why try to live a moral life? Where does it get you? All your friends just call you a ‘square’. You have to get all you can out of life before the Army gets you and you get rubbed out in a war that nobody understands or wants to fight.”

    If you try to tell them about sound American ideals and good citizenship, they point at you and say, “Man, dig that square from the country.”

    Sometimes we think our children could never be a responsible partner in any kind of venture.

    But we must remember that there is no pedagogical device half so effective as a good example. A child will never under­value the privilege and duty of voting if he sees his teacher and his parents leave a warm building on a cold day to go out and cast a cool ballot in a hot election.

    The man or woman who packs a car full of yelling kids on Sunday morning and drives to church has preached a great sermon to the neighborhood—but anybody who thinks he is going to imbue his children with religion by merely tipping his hat to the church has flipped his lid.

    These are individual responsibilities and cannot be met merely by pitching our lot with the group. The P-TA was never intended to be a sun-lamp under which children could be exposed collectively to some kind of cosmic ray that would make them good citizens.

    There are many things that all of us have to be as individuals which this organization cannot be and must not. The Congress of Parents and Teachers used to call itself non-political, but that was a misnomer. What we meant was non-partisan. We are still non-partisan. We endorse no parties, political platforms or candidates and if we ever start doing it, we will lose our value and effectiveness plus most of the almost ten million members we now have.

    But this country has no need for non-political or non-partisan individuals. Show me a parent or teacher with no identifiable stand on a vital public issue and I’ll show you a person with no identifiable importance to the civic welfare of his community.

    The Congress of Parents and Teachers was founded because there were children who needed help, guidance and care and a country that needed those children. Has our objective been realized? Have our many accomplishments eliminated our reason for being?

    Not as long as there is one home in which the family car is in greater demand than the family Bible. Not as long as there is one empty pew in church, an empty seat at the meetings of civic clubs, one unnecessary excuse to get out of jury service or one public office with a closed door and drawn curtains.

    The challenge still confronts us while there is a politician in office who got there through pull and then stopped pulling . . . who lets constitutional government die of cold feet because he is afraid to get into hot water . . . who is so concerned with the left and the right that he forgets the above and below.

    If there is a Texan alive who is following the crowd instead of his conscience or is sacrificing a dot here and a dash there in the Constitution to get a dollar sign on the ledger, there’s a job for the P-TA.

    As long as there is one little face prematurely bruised by the hard knocks from which irresponsible parents were unwilling to shield it . . . one child deprived of health, learning, love, sympathy and spiritual guidance . . . one young American denied the chance to rise to whatever heights God will lead him and by his strength to strengthen others, there is plenty of work for the P-TA.

    Nowadays some people work for a living, others try to vote for it and all of us fall victim to the tendency to measure the value of things in terms of economic prosperity. In our eagerness to maintain a high standard of living, we tend to let other standards decline.

    In this contest between gold and government we ought to remember that the good things of life can neither be bought with money or voted into existence. Nobody can open a safety deposit box and file away a title to a Texas sunset. No one can lay gold on the counter and buy the look of trust and innocence in a child’s eyes. No man can trade hard cash for the companionship of a true friend or purchase at any price the love and devotion of a good wife. All the money in all the treasuries of the world is not worth the sound of a mother’s lullaby or the laughter of a free man.

    Surely then all the wealth, resources, railroads, oil derricks, cotton fields industries and herds of cattle in the great state of Texas will not be enough to purchase freedom for a single toe-headed [sic] boy or pig-tailed girl unless we have filed away in our hearts this priceless knowledge:

    Freedom is old, not young; yet it is born anew in the first cry of a free man’s son;
    It is not a living thing, yet it dies if we do not love it;
    It is not weak, but strong; yet it must be defended;
    It is light, yet it weighs heavy on him who is without it;
    It is without price, yet it dearly costs the one who sells it;
    It is not small, but great; yet once lost it is never, never found again.
    Yes, to be born free is an accident;
    To live free is a responsibility;
    But to die free is an obligation.

    [Note: The views expressed in this speech were those of John Ben Shepperd, and do not necessarily represent the views of the John Ben Shepperd Public Leadership Institute or the University of Texas Permian Basin.]

  25. John Ben Shepperd: Kermit 4-H Club Awards Dinner

    Leave a Comment

    February 6, 1957

    Annual Awards Dinner of the Area Officials, 4-H Club (Kermit, Texas)

    As long as men have lived on the earth, they have always tried to peer into the future. If any man could foretell the future, his fortune would be made.

    We used to have an old prophet back in Gladewater named Uncle Billy who could predict the future. He would predict some calamity and people would work so hard to prevent what he predicted that it never happened. They would laugh and say, “Uncle Billy, you were wrong.” And Uncle Billy would say, “Wrong, my foot! My predictions always come true if you leave things well enough alone, but you young meddlers are always changin’ the circumstances!”

    That’s the nice thing about the future—it all depends on people. I don’t believe in palmistry, but I know that your future is in the palm of your hand. If you close your fist on it with determination, you have become master of it. The man with a closed fist is never the victim of circumstances. He makes his own circumstances.

    Nobody has proved that point more forcefully than the American rancher and farmer. In most parts of the world today, farming and what they call ranching is still primitive. It is still at the stage we reached 150 years ago when it took three men on the farm and ranch to produce enough food for themselves and one extra man in town. But today it takes only one American farmer and rancher to produce enough for themselves and thirteen others in the city plus enough for foreign export.

    One of the reasons American farmers and ranchers are so efficient and progressive is that they truly devote their lives to their work. To most of them their way of life is a heritage; they grow up in it. An engineer cannot grow up on a bridge, nor a doctor in a hospital nor a lawyer in a courtroom—but a farmer or a rancher is usually born to his profession and he lives with it. And no man can love a hospital, a courtroom or an office the way a rancher loves the land and what it brings forth. The rancher is close to the basic things of life; he is close to God.

    But the most commendable thing about today’s farmers and ranchers is that they do so much to pass on their heritage to their children and with it a sense of responsibility. What other profession is there that trains its future members with such care from childhood to manhood? What other profession can boast anything like the 90,000 4-H Clubs with more than 2,456,000 members in all 48 states, Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico. They are at work today not only teaching farming and ranching, but teaching responsibility in the use of the land for the preservation of its fertility and a program to feed an ever-growing population. This organization teaches not only the importance of homemaking, but the importance of the home and the family us a foundation of American freedom. The main requirement of 4-H Clubs is a willingness to “learn by doing” and “to make the best better”. Character development and good citizenship are long-range goals.

    I realize that not all of you 4-H Club members are farmers and ranchers and some of you do not intend to be. But you are all interested and vitally concerned with the land and its problems. Nothing you can do in life will separate you from the land and those who work it. The farmer and rancher are the mainspring of our economy; if anything goes wrong with them, the machine stops. Sometimes we forget that and it always gets us into trouble. But they have never failed us, even when others have failed them, and I know that you will follow the example set for you by long tradition. You have your own future and its future is in your hands, and you know it.

    If we could wipe out all human institutions except the two oldest and most basic, we would be left with agriculture and government. Agriculture builds human society and government directs it. To have a streamlined, mechanized, highly productive agriculture like ours and a citizenry that has lost its sense of responsibility like ours is like having a jet plane shooting through the sky with nobody at the controls.

    A Greek philosopher said it is the nature of all human institutions to decline. That is certainly true of American government when citizens begin to recline—to lie down on the job. Productive agriculture has helped to make this situation possible. In the last few years our country has been through a period of comparative prosperity and until the drouth became so widespread, farmers and ranchers shared this prosperity. Consequently, for every small duty of citizenship we used to perform we have lately been tossing a dollar to the government to have it done for us.

    It reminds me of the generous old rancher who used to pay his foreman’s son a dollar to shine his shoes. The boy saved up his dollars and when the boss went broke in a drouth year, the boy bought the farm and kept the old man around to shine his shoes. There are men in high places with the same plan in mind. “The power to tax is the power to destroy.”

    The hand of the tax collector is heavy upon us and government gets bigger and bigger. Never before has it had so much power. Never before has it been so rich. Never before has it been so covetous of the rights and powers that are reserved to the people and never before have the people been so eager to give them up along with their responsibilities.

    Every day some small liberty is sold to Washington where it is locked away behind an iron door that no key can open and marked with a rubber stamp that says “Contributed by John Doe in exchange for the privilege of irresponsibility”. And every day we hear someone say, “I’m a good citizen—I pay my taxes.”

    A friend of mine who is a preacher told me that the same thing is happening to his church. People who used to go to church faithfully are satisfying their consciences by merely sending a little money. The blessings of God are not so cheaply bought and neither is freedom. Money will never serve as a proxy for responsible participation. There is no dollar that can substitute for an intelligent ballot. There is no dollar that can sit in your place at a meeting or the county commissioners’ court, the city council or the school board. There is no dollar that can occupy your place on the jury, give counsel to a public office holder who needs it or serve for you on a civic committee that needs your experience and intelligence.

    And I’m not talking to the menfolks alone—you women have public responsibilities too. If you’ve ever seen a girl wrangling with her father for a new dress, you’ve seen a master lobbyist at work. Boys, if you’ve ever seen a girl on the telephone, you’ve seen a filibuster. And if you could see me discussing a family matter with my wife and twin daughters, you’d see a majority rule in operation.

    But I’m not worried about you girls. Any girl who can keep three or four boys on the string at one time and make each one think he’s her favorite will make a good politician. They say women make the world go ‘round. I wouldn’t doubt it—they very often make it go sideways and topsy-turvy. My son Johnny had a class quiz not long ago and one of the questions was: what is it that keeps the earth suspended in space? He didn’t pass that quiz. He wrote down: The thing that keeps the world in suspence [sic] is girls.

    There is no dollar that can teach responsible citizenship to one of these young men and women who are being so diligently trained for rural leadership. No dollar will show them the meaning of independent thought and action, how to vote for the right man, how to tell the difference between political parties, how the city government operates or how to recognize a socialist or a communist.

    No amount of money can teach them love of freedom or instill in them the patriotism of eight or nine generations of Americans who fought, sacrificed and died to make this country the best there is. It takes parental guidance to do that. The job cannot be thrown into the lap of the teacher, the scout master, the movies, television and the textbook.

    The future of this generation of young Americans is not something to be read in a crystal ball; it is a thing to be carved out by hands that are willing to work and fight and pray to keep this country the kind of place where the function of the government is to protect our liberties, not to pick them out of our pockets . . . where government is answerable to the people, not the people to the government . . . where every man, woman, boy or girl is master or his own destiny and every mother’s son or daughter a future president . . . where excellence is allowed to excel and a young man or woman can start from scratch and become a millionaire . . . where we do not try to lift the wage earner by tearing down the wage payer . . . where a boy or girl is still free to write the greatest book, build the tallest building, make a greater invention or establish a great new ideal . . . where individuality is applauded above cheap collectivism and uniformity . . . where men and women are still free to rise to whatever heights God will lead them and by their strength to strengthen others.

    Such a country is without price. It cannot be bought, sold or built overnight. It can only wither away through the negligence of those who love ease better than liberty or be preserved by those who can lay the daily sacrifice of personal attention upon the altar of freedom.

    Because freedom is old, not young; yet it is born anew in the first cry of a free man’s son;
    It is not a living thing, yet it dies if we do not love it;
    It is not weak, but strong; yet it must be defended;
    It is light, yet it weighs heavy on him who is without it;
    It is without price, yet it dearly costs the one who sells it;
    It is not small, but great; yet once lost, it is never found again.
    Yes, to be born a free man or woman is an accident;
    To live one is a responsibility;
    To die one is an obligation.

    [Note: The views expressed in this speech were those of John Ben Shepperd, and do not necessarily represent the views of the John Ben Shepperd Public Leadership Institute or the University of Texas Permian Basin.]

  26. John Ben Shepperd: Odessa Kiwanis

    Leave a Comment

    January 21, 1957

    Kiwanis Club (Odessa, Texas)

    Forty-two years ago in Detroit, Michigan, Kiwanis was born under the motto—”We Build”. And since that date, you have been building!—better youngsters—better men—better communities—a better country.

    Kiwanis’ greatest strength is that its ideal is far outside itself. Men are not Kiwanians for the sake of being Kiwanians. Kiwanis is not an end in itself but a means to a much larger end. It is a vehicle that enables you to serve your fellowman and you have done it well!

    Kiwanian philosophy is old-timey and foolish by some present day standards. A true, dedicated Kiwanian thinks personal happiness depends not on how the world treats you, but on how you treat the world. He thinks the only thing you can take with you is what you have given to others and the only way that you can rise in the world is to keep your feet on the ground and stay on the level. He thinks you’ll get out of life exactly what you put into it and on this old-fashioned theory he expects to come out ahead.

    There is no job too big for a Kiwanian and there’s no job so small that he thinks he’s too big for it. He’s also very superstitious—he believes in luck. And the harder he works, the more of it he seems to have! He is so weak and helpless in the face of a really tough problem that he has to call on God for help and he thinks an ounce of sweat has more weight with God than a bucket of tears.

    Why a Kiwanian is so old-timey that he selects as his theme for 1957—”Integrity, Leadership, Service”.

    He dares to do this in the face of an apathetic citizenry which thinks that “Integrity” is for the other fellow, that it’s perfectly all right to do a little chiseling in dealing with business and professional associates and particularly when dealing with the government.

    Leadership? Sometimes we think it is a lost art in America. Kiwanians know what it takes to be a leader. Leadership means doing everything for the good of others, which often means doing it in spite of them. It sometimes means you have to be a sponge and absorb a lot of insult and ingratitude. It means knowing how to face opposition and stiffen your spine instead of arching your back. Sometimes it means being a busybody and other times being stubborn—having a strong will and a stronger won’t. Now and then it means getting mad. The man or woman who never gets mad doesn’t give a hoot. Very often it means standing alone in the belief that you are right and the crowd is wrong. It means being a wet blanket and sacrificing your personal popularity on the altar of self-respect.

    Yes, Kiwanis as a club and Kiwanians as individuals know the penalties of leadership—yet you have the moral fiber and courage to adopt it as a goal for another year. Power to you!

    And your last but certainly not least objective for 1957—service. Service, the price we pay for the space we occupy here on earth—but how few people are willing to pay this small price.

    I have spoken to your local clubs in twenty-one states, Alaska and Hawaii and I know that this term “Service” characterizes not only the philosophy but the record of accomplishments of the various clubs that make up Kiwanis International. I could talk all day about the various projects that your own organization has accomplished here in Odessa. But it seems to me that when I think of Kiwanis, I think of young people—of Key Clubs, Circle K Clubs, honor citizenship awards, youth panels, youth rallies. I had the honor last fall of speaking to your local Key Club and I saw there the keen interest in citizenship that was being inoculated into the minds of those youngsters by your efforts and your example. And I have seen these organizations work in many other places.

    I note too that practically all of your other activities are dedicated towards the general philosophy of building better citizens—and not just contributing directly to help young boys or girls who have gotten into trouble. You have remembered the very important adage that prevention is the very best cure for juvenile delinquency. You have followed the philosophy so ably illustrated by the thought and actions of the people in this old poem,

    ‘Twas a dangerous cliff everybody confessed,
    But to walk by its edge was so pleasant,
    That over its dangerous summit had slipped
    A duke, and full many a peasant.

    So people said something would have to be done,
    But their projects did not at all tally.
    Some said put a fence around the edge of the cliff,
    Some an ambulance down in the valley.

    But the cry of the ambulance carried the day
    As it spread to the neighboring city.
    For a fence may be useful or not, that is true,
    But each heart was filled with pity
    For the poor folk who fell off the terrible cliff.

    So dwellers in highway and alley
    Gave funds or gave pence, not to put up a fence,
    But an ambulance down in the valley.

    “For a cliff is all right if you’re careful,” said they,
    “And if you have slipped and are dropping,
    Why it isn’t the slipping that hurts you so much,
    It’s the shock down below when you’re stopping.”

    So day after day as these mishaps occurred,
    Quick forth would the rescuers sally
    To pick up the people who fell off the cliff
    With their ambulance down in the valley.

    “Till an old sage remarked, “It’s a marvel to me
    That people give more attention
    To repairing results than to stopping the cause
    When they’d much better aim at prevention.”

    “Let us stop at its source all this mischief,” said he,
    “Come, neighbors and friends, let us all rally.
    If the cliff we will fence, we might almost dispense,
    With the ambulance down in the valley.”

    “Oh, he’s a fanatic,” the people rejoined,
    “Dispense with the ambulance, never!
    He’d dispense with all charities too if he could.
    No, no, we’ll support them forever.

    “Aren’t we picking up folks just as fast as they fall?
    Shall this man dictate to us, shall he?
    Why should people with sense stop to put up a fence
    When the ambulance works in the valley?”

    But a sensible few who are practical too
    Won’t bear with such nonsense much longer.
    They believe that prevention is better than cure
    And their party will soon be the stronger.

    Encourage them then with voice, pence and pen.
    And while other philanthropists dally,
    We’ll scorn all pretense and put up a stout fence
    On the cliff that looks over the valley.

    Yes, Kiwanis International is concerned with building a fence to preserve our institutions in America; they are not operating an ambulance and being content to pick up and cover up our inadequacies and mistakes.

    As we pause on this occasion celebrating the forty-second anniversary of Kiwanis—paying tribute to the community service rendered by the members of this dedicated organization in 4250 communities In the United States, Canada, Alaska and Hawaii—you as Kiwanians must also rededicate yourselves on this, the threshold of a new year, to even greater service and accomplishments.

    But even more important than this, you and I as Americana must rededicate ourselves to the ever-present job of maintaining our freedom—to preserving an atmosphere of freedom in which Kiwanis and other organizations might have the opportunity to serve their fellowmen.

    We must adopt an aggressive citizenship creed and live it 365 days a year; we must keep our country the kind that isn’t measured from border to border, but from the ground to the sky—the kind of place where young men and women are masters of their own destiny, where every mother’s son is a future president, where a man is not contained between his hat and his boots, where men are free to rise to whatever heights God will lead them and by their strength to strengthen others.

    We must dispel the common fallacy that success is measured in terms of prosperity. We must always remember that the good things of life are not bought with money. Nobody can open a safety deposit box and file away a title to a West Texas sunset. No one can lay gold on the counter and buy the look of trust and innocence in a child’s eyes. No man can trade hard cash for the companionship of a true friend nor purchase at any price the love and devotion of a faithful wife. And all the money in all the treasuries of the world is not worth the sound of a mother’s lullaby or the laughter of a free man.

    Because freedom is old, not young, yet it is born anew in the first cry or a free man’s son;
    It is not a living thing, yet it dies if we do not love it;
    It is not weak, yet it must be defended;
    It is light, yet it weighs heavy on him who is without it;
    It is without price, yet it dearly costs the one who sells it;
    It is not small, but great; yet once lost it is never, never found again.

    [Note: The views expressed in this speech were those of John Ben Shepperd, and do not necessarily represent the views of the John Ben Shepperd Public Leadership Institute or the University of Texas Permian Basin.]

  27. John Ben Shepperd: Post Chamber of Commerce Banquet

    Leave a Comment

    January 10, 1957

    Chamber of Commerce Banquet (Post, Texas)

    I have been vitally concerned for a number of years about the steady and unnecessary encroachment of a centralized federal bureaucracy upon the historic rights of our state and local governments.

    The forty-eight stars in the constellation of American states are being eclipsed by the sun that rises out of federal bureaus and sets behind the Capitol dome. The Lone Star of Texas was never meant to be a mere satellite to this painted balloon manipulated by socialists and bureaucrats. How was this balloon inflated? It was blown up with the hot air of individual citizens who swear by the Constitution without living by it. For a long time we have been sitting around drawing interest on our forefathers’ original investment without adding to the capital. When a new face appears in Heaven, you can be sure somebody has died on the ground and when a new power turns up in Washington, it’s because somebody gave it up back home.

    You know, not every man who yells “God bless America” is a patriot. There’s the parade patriot who waves the biggest flag on the Fourth of July and goes to the country club that night instead of the political rally. There’s the push-button patriot who limits his participation in government to pushing a legislator or button-holing a congressman. And then there’s the tax-paying patriot who lays his financial sacrifice on the line, stamps the words “good citizen” on his conscience and lets his relationship to government end right there. Nobody can prove his patriotism with a cancelled check.

    And what shall we say of the modern tendency toward “corporate citizenship”? Businessmen incorporate for the purpose of limiting liability. Can men and women limit their responsibility to their country? Can a business or professional man hang out a sign saying “citizen limited”? There is no exemption from the tax on time and talent. If you sit down at the end of the day and read the comics, the sports or the woman’s page and skip the editorials, you’re not exercising a privilege—you’re taking a liberty. If you ignore the issues and vote your prejudice, you’re not using a Constitutional right—you’re exercising a Constitutional wrong. If you are ever in the position of having to flip a coin at the polls, you’re gambling the fate of your country on heads or tails.

    We can fret and worry about federal encroachment and the decline of local powers, but nothing is going to be done about it until we remember that Democracy grew from the bottom up and our responsibilities to it begin at the base of the mountain—on the local level. It’s not any man’s duty to sit grooming himself for an appointment to a state board or a national council. Duty begins when you’re wanted on the civic committee, the school board, in the Chamber of Commerce and in the P-TA in Post.

    There are plenty of people who dream of doing great things, but there are very few who can go ahead and do little things in a great way. When you pull yourself out of an easy chair in the evening and drag your tired feet down to a precinct convention, you’ve done a greater thing than most Americans ever do. When you get up on Sunday morning and drive to church, you have preached a great sermon to the neighborhood. But if you think you’re going to keep your country free by tipping your hat to the church on your way to the golf course or out to the farm, you’ve flipped your lid.

    Yes, it is the iron-clad duty of every citizen to work for Democracy at home, on the local level; to build up attendance at the meetings of local governmental bodies, to get out the vote; to serve on Chamber of Commerce committee; to support your candidates after election as well as before; and above all, to serve in public office when qualified and when called upon.

    I’ve known many talented and experienced business and professional men, farmer and rancher, who belonged in public office and who answered the urging of their friends and neighbors by saying, “I don’t want to get into politics and be subjected to a lot of criticism and political slander.”

    I’ve heard others say, “Politics is too dirty—too full of crooks.” If politics is full of crooks, why do we put the reins of government in their hands? How long will freedom be ours if we cling to this convenient excuse for staying at home, drawing the interest and adding nothing to the capital?

    We need more responsible businessmen, farmers, professional men—members of our Chambers of Commerce—taking part in local and state government and executing policies consistent with our basic beliefs—efficiency, economy and integrity.

    We need men in public office who won’t send for the federal government every time they have a problem. We need men who won’t get in public office through pull and then stop pulling, who won’t sacrifice a dot or dash in the Constitution to get a dollar sign on the ledger—men who won’t submerge a principle to win a point, who won’t let Constitutional government die of cold feet because they are afraid to get into hot water, who are never so concerned with the left and right that they get it mixed up with the above and below.

    The greatest fault of the American people is our materialism and lack of real concern for good government. Half of us are trying to buy all the good things of life with money and the other half are trying to vote them into existence. But who can open a safety deposit box and file away a title to a West Texas sunset? Who can lay gold on the counter and buy the look of trust and innocence in a child’s eyes? Can anybody dig into his pocketbook and buy a good conscience or a lifetime of proud accomplishment? No man can trade hard cash for the companionship of a true friend nor purchase at any price the love and devotion or a good woman.

    Because freedom is old, not young, yet it is born anew in the first cry of a free man’s son;
    It is not a living thing, yet it dies if we do not love it;
    It is not weak, yet it must be defended;
    It is light, yet it weighs heavy on him who is without it;
    It is without price, yet it dearly costs the one who sells it;
    It is not small, but great; yet once lost, it is never, never found again.
    Yes, to be born free is an accident;
    To live free is a responsibility;
    But to die free is an obligation.

    [Note: The views expressed in this speech were those of John Ben Shepperd, and do not necessarily represent the views of the John Ben Shepperd Public Leadership Institute or the University of Texas Permian Basin.]

     

  28. John Ben Shepperd: Open the Door, Blackstone

    Leave a Comment

    August 28, 1956

    Annual Meeting the National Conference of Bar Examiners and the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar

    Open the Door, Blackstone (opening remarks only)

    Thank you for that very flattering and truthful introduction. I think he did a good job considering that he was in somewhat the same position as the Master of Ceremonies who had to introduce another obscure character from a small town in Texas. He said, “Our next speaker needs no introduction. Even if I told you who he is, you still wouldn’t know him.”

    Aren’t these politics over the country something? The conventions are barely over. The hangovers are not even over yet. And already the atmosphere is pervaded with a sort of nervous eagerness . . . politicians are finding things that haven’t even been stolen yet. Some of them are turning up crimes that haven’t even been committed . . . there’s no problem too small to be turned into a crisis and every blabbermouth politician has a solution.

    Only yesterday, a self-anointed politician in Washington went running to a psychiatrist suffering from a complete nervous breakdown. He had worked out a beautiful solution but couldn’t find a problem to go with it. He went to a smart doctor who merely sent him to the desk of a Washington bureaucrat who enters his office each morning to face a small issue. His job is to make a mountain out of it before 5 o’clock. He cured him immediately. He created a problem for him.

    But I don’t want you to think politicians are good for nothing. We must be good for something—don’t press me for an answer on exactly what.

    The other day a lady called my office and said, “Mr. Shepperd, I have a problem.” I said, “Lady, if you feel like you have a problem, come feel of me.” She said, “I have a skunk in my basement.” I told her she had called the right place and all she had to do was take a box of bread crumbs, go down to the bottom of the basement steps and start a trail of these crumbs up the steps, through the hall, through the living room, out the front door, across the porch and out to the edge of the yard, then prop the front door open and go over to the neighbor’s house for an hour. An hour later she called me back and said, “You can’t tell me you politicians can’t get the job done. I now have two skunks in my basement.”

    I can say all this because I am not running for re-election. I have become a statesman. You know what a statesman is—a politician who decided not to run again, in most cases because he couldn’t have been elected.

    The only reason I even went into politics in the first place was because of my wife, Mamie. She wanted me to move from my home town of Gladewater to our Capital City, Austin, in order that I might make a name for myself. She didn’t like the names they were calling me in Gladewater. But she’s ready to go home now because those names were so much better than the ones they are calling me in Austin.

    But I shouldn’t be talking about politics to such a notorious non-political organization as the American Bar Association. So please permit me to go from the sublime to the ridiculous and say a few words about my native state. I’ll talk about Texas whenever there is the slightest indication of interest in that noble subject and you have indicated the slightest interest of any group I have talked to recently.

    I want to extend a very warm and cordial welcome to those of you who are from outside the Lone Star State. Let me reassure you at the outset that we don’t blame you for being born somewhere else. You’re still welcome in the great and bountiful state of Texas. I do hope though that you brought your own water. This drouth is so bad we’ve started letting in wetbacks just to get the moisture.

    We’re getting smarter in Texas though, as you no doubt have already discovered. We are finally learning that it’s easier to pick a tourist—particularly a convention tourist—than it is to pick cotton. And it’s a lot more fun. I’ve tried both and I know.

    In fact, there are so many Yankee and foreigner tourists in Texas now, I’d better give you a few tips on how to recognize a Texan. In the first place, if you see somebody in a big hat and western boots, that’s not a Texan. That’s one of your own bunch who has a Texas friend. And as hot as it is, he’s probably wishing by now he didn’t have.

    You’ll know a real Texan when you see one. A real Texan is wealthy—not individually, but collectively. We measure our wealth in terms of each person’s share in the total. So every citizen of this state owns 1/7 of a hog, 1 [and] 1/8 of a cow, 4 pounds of pecans and 1/80 of a jackass. The latter usually sticks out more than the former. He also has 104 barrels of oil.

    But I want you to know it isn’t true that all Texans are oil rich. If all the people in Texas who get royalties from oil were suddenly taken up into heaven at the last trump, which is not likely at all, the state would still have left five sharecroppers, two members of our Board of Legal Examiners and one darn good attorney general.

    I guess you wonder when I’m going to get around to bragging on Texas. Texans actually don’t enjoy that sort of thing, but it has come to be expected of us and we’re too polite not to fulfill our obligations. When you come right down to it, there aren’t actually many Texans who brag. If all the bragging Texans were laid end to end, it would meet with the unanimous approval of the rest of the country.

    You out-of-staters think we don’t have a very high regard for the truth, but the fact is we value it very highly and that’s why we are so economical with it. Remember though, there is one sure way to tell if a Texan is lying—if his mouth is open, he’s lying.

    While you are here you will find that Texas is the healthiest place in the world. We have to go across the state line to get sick. A friend of mine who is a veteran of many years at the bar—both kinds—lost his health back east so he bought a ranch in Texas. When he came down here he was crippled and had a glass eye. They discovered oil on his ranch, and he not only stopped limping but he can see a little out of that glass eye.

    I’m not going to take your time to pay a much-deserved tribute to the dynamic members of the Dallas and Texas Bars. The fact that they could sell you on coming to Dallas in hot August is the best evidence of their enthusiasm and salesmanship. One of the delegates might have expressed your feelings when he told me last night that “August heat isn’t so bad in Texas—it saves you money—if you want to communicate with any of your departed brethren in the American Bar, you can do it cheap here because hell isn’t a long-distance call from Texas.”

    There’s one thing you can say for us Texans that makes us popular, even if nothing else does. We have always had a high regard for women. Texas women are so tall you have to regard pretty high to see them. Last year we passed a constitutional amendment asking them to serve on the jury. We decided that if women are going to try and convict more men than juries ever could, they might as well sit twelve in a box and do it legally. That way they can only pick on one poor devil at a time.

    There was considerable legislative haggling over whether or not to exempt lawyers’ wives from jury service. They were finally exempted on the ground that being married to a lawyer is punishment enough.

    As a matter of fact, the ever-present battle of the sexes in Texas resolves itself down to this simple formula—men are men and women are women—and I defy you to improve on a situation like that. Or, as the old maid said, “Who wants to improve on it? I just want to get in on it.”

    Actually though, you out-of-staters are welcome in Texas. As a matter of fact, we already have more than two million citizens from other parts of the country. Many of them are from your home states. We call them refugees. If I were a typical Fourth of July orator, I’d tell you what a great contribution they have made to our state, what fine citizens they are, how much we love them. But I’ll be perfectly candid. You can have them back any time you want them.

    Actually we’re glad to have these refugees. We are working hard to get more people; in fact, every 16th child born in the United States is a Texan and Texans are born four times as fast as they die. That’s pretty discouraging to the rest of the country.

    Just remember when you’re in Texas, that of all these 8 1/2 million laughing, bragging, hard-working, God-fearing Texans with their feet on the ground and their heads in the sky, 9,500 are in the penitentiary, 29,000 are under indictment, 19,000 are out on bond, 2,500 are in jail and the rest have been assessed fines totaling $398,000 already this year. I tell you this because these figures will be popular with your friends back home.

    But I had better get on or you will be wanting me to stop before I actually get started.

    You know my wife and I have four children, two of whom are twin girls. When my wife went to the hospital before they were born, my oldest son, Skippy, kept saying he hoped Mommy had a girl. So I told him, “Son, why don’t you try praying for one?” The first night he prayed for a long time and came in the next day and said, “I prayed last night and nothing has happened. I am not going to pray any more.” I said, “No, son, go back and try again.” The second night he went back and prayed very, very long and devoutly. He came in the next day and said, “I prayed twice and I’m through.” Some time later we went down to the hospital and there was his mother with Marianne in one arm and Suzanne in the other. Bursting with pride on the arrival of his twin sisters, I walked across the room, patted him on the head and said, “Son, aren’t you glad you prayed?” He said, “Yes, and ain’t you glad I stopped?”

    [Note: The views expressed in this speech were those of John Ben Shepperd, and do not necessarily represent the views of the John Ben Shepperd Public Leadership Institute or the University of Texas Permian Basin.]

  29. UT Permian Basin Student Kaycie Reynolds completes Archer Fellowship Program

    Leave a Comment

    During the Fall 2019 semester, UT Permian Basin student Kaycie Reynolds participated in the UT System’s Archer Fellowship Program in Washington, D.C. Describing the experience, Kaycie writes:

    “Becoming an Archer Fellow is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made at my time at UTPB for professional development and personal memories. During my time at our Nation’s Capitol, I explored the city, got a first hand glimpse into various government sectors, and made lifelong friendships with my peers. If you are interested in learning and being involved with our federal institutions, or site seeing in a new city, I recommend applying to the Bill Archer Fellowship Program and gaining a once in a lifetime opportunity.”

    Congratulations Kaycie on your successful completion of the Archer Fellowship! Thank you for representing UT Permian Basin in Washington, D.C.

    To learn more about the Archer Fellowship Program, please visit the Archer Center’s website.

  30. John Ben Shepperd: The Lawyer – Freedom’s Advocate

    Leave a Comment

    September 21, 1957

    Oklahoma Bar Association (Lake Murray, Oklahoma)

    The Lawyer – Freedom’s Advocate

     

    It’s difficult to know what things ought to be said by one lawyer to a group of others in a few brief moments like these. There is hardly time to go into a deep subject and there is no deep subject that goes well with an after-dinner cigar anyway.

    So I’d like merely to share with you a few thoughts about this country of ours, its Constitution and certain responsibilities of the lawyer. The American lawyer is legal counsel to Democracy—he is freedom’s advocate.

    The Constitution divides the government into three branches, lodging the lawmaking power in Congress. Any realistic lawyer or historian will admit that the Constitution has been violated many times with respect to the actual location of this lawmaking authority.

    There have been times when a strong executive has actually made law and other times when the courts have simply “interpreted” into existence a law which Congress never would have passed.

    Because of the relative ease with which a branch of the government can violate the Constitution—and usually get away with it—we cannot put our trust in the mere fact that we have great legal minds to interpret the law correctly. We can only put our confidence in the moral character of Democracy’s parliamentarians—the members of the legal profession. If you’ll excuse the pun, we are the legal guardians of the rest of the people and as much as I dislike saying it, most of the departures that have been made from the true meaning and intent of the Constitution have been made through political thinking, moral weakness or the exercise of personal opinion on the part of lawyers and groups of lawyers.

    This is especially true in those recurrent periods when the judiciary seems to emerge with a temporary pre-eminence over the other branches. We are in such a period right now. I don’t need remind you of recent controversies surrounding the powers and actions of the U.S. Supreme Court or of the frequent inability of Congress to rewrite the laws which it feels the Court has misinterpreted.

    Because this country is in the legal custody of the lawyers, it make a terrifically big difference what every lawyer does—what the thinks, what he says, what he believes. An obscure lawyer from nowhere can suddenly be catapulted by election or appointment to a judgeship. An irresponsible or overly-opinionated law professor can send forth hundreds of young lawyers carrying the hidden genes of legal deformity. An ill-trained or ethically warped lawyer in Congress or a state legislature can write idiocy or injustice into the law.

    Don’t tell me, therefore, that it doesn’t make much difference if a lawyer gets his politics a little mixed up with this legal thinking—not while one man’s opinion can change the nation’s destiny. How often has this country veered radically to the right or left by a five-to-four decision? Every starry-eyed law graduate is a potential judge. It’s alright for him to practice law and have his politics too—in fact, he should—but only if, like a man with two wives, he can do his duty to both of them and keep them apart.

    Neither can the custodian of the Constitution permit their profession to become a clearing-house for placing legal talent and knowledge at the disposal of unethical persons with plans for business conquest or political achievement. We must admit that there is always a big demand for lawyers of easy virtue. For every client who want a lawyer, there is usually another who wants a fixer.

    We have gone to great lengths through examining boards and methods to make sure that lawyers are able. But while a great many aspiring lawyers eliminated on academic grounds, very few ware disqualified from bar membership for deficiencies of character. We have done too little to eliminate the moral misfit, the conscientious non-objector and the lawyer who will sacrifice a principle for a fee.

    I am not an advocate of a closed profession, especially on a basis that would cause lawyers to sit in moral judgment on each other, but I believe that we can lift our professional standards by sincerely reminding each other now and then that we are not obligated to represent every rascal who can pay. Not every client has a just cause.

    I’m not here to preach a moral sermon, but to make the point that there is a direct and vital relationship between the personal conduct of lawyers and the stability of the law. This is especially true when we fall victim to the “success” philosophy which measures all men in terms of annual income. I have known many a promising attorney who started sacrificing minor principles to get ahead, only to wind up selling the loopholes in the Constitution to keep himself in tuxedoes. There is a point at which the earning of money and the upholding of the Constitution are inconsistent and the patriot is the man who will not trade a dot or a dash in the Constitution for a dollar sign on the ledger.

    You can’t get away from it—the American lawyer is the custodian and exponent of the system of laws which the people of this country call freedom. He is thrust into a position of moral and patriotic leadership which he cannot shirk whether he likes it or not. He has an obligation to be wherever freedom’s vital pulse is beating—at the public meetings, the meetings of the local governmental bodies, the budget hearing and all the other places where the processes of free government depend on the watchful eye of an intelligent public. Wherever those processes are slowed or broken down, we’ve been yelling, “There ought to be a law!” The truth is, there ought to be a lawyer.

    Freedom cannot long endure where the practitioners of the law are not its self-appointed guardians. Lawyers wrote the instruments of our liberty and guided this country through its infancy. They did this, even in a day when the issues of life were far simpler than now. The first Americans were people with an ability to separate the false from the true, the important from the unimportant . . . people with the kind of honesty and simplicity that sees through the subterfuges of demagogues and quacks in high places . . . people who were too wise to be fooled, too good to be corrupted, too proud to be abased and too strong to be misgoverned.

    But today’s world is complex and the undercurrents are subtle and hidden. People become confused and discouraged at their inability to understand. Confusion gives way to apathy and apathy to indifference. Unless there are lights along the way, freedom dies.

    Freedom dies in the path over which men and women no longer walk to the polls. It dies on the courthouse lawns where they no longer go to political rallies. It perishes on the concrete steps of the school house where the feet of grown people no longer tread.

    Freedom expires in the dust that collects on church pews that are never filled and in homes where half the family is just sitting around waiting for the other half to get back with the car. It dies of cold feet wherever public officials are afraid to get into hot water. It dies of apathy wherever men and women get into public office through pull and then stop pulling. And it dies wherever lawyers try to get to the top by climbing instead of growing and wherever they are so concerned with the pro and the con that they forget the right and the wrong.

    Am I just a nostalgic dreamer or wasn’t there a time when a client could walk into a lawyers’ office and get action without a fee being discussed first? Wasn’t there a time when an attorney, without stopping to check his minimum fee schedule, grabbed his hat and said, “Let’s go”? Wasn’t there a generation of lawyers who got a gleam in their eye when they talked about the law instead of about their rich clients?

    That’s the kind of lawyer I aspired to be when I was a youngster. There were no lawyers in my family. Nobody talked me into being one. Nobody told me it was lucrative—and sure enough, it wasn’t. But somebody, sometime, caught my mind’s eye with the idea that the preservation of our Democracy is and ought to be primarily the responsibility of those who are trained in the law.

    I used to read of Daniel Webster fighting injustice and dedicating his life to the cause of freedom through constitutional law. I heard of statesmen expounding from a law book the vast, imponderable principles that moved armies to clash on battlefields. And I read of Justice Holmes, dissenting time and again to the point of looking ridiculous—unwilling to prostitute the law or compromise his integrity. And I am not ashamed that I went through law school on a shoestring, a prayer and the hope that I too, in taking up a noble profession, might serve my fellow men and honor my calling.

    This nation is badly in need of idealist lawyers. We will need them as long as there are closed doors in public office, public meetings held in secret and public files marked ‘Confidential’. We need them as long as there are antiquated, harmful laws on that statute books, remaining there only because they suit somebody’s political or financial convenience—and as long as there are loopholes in the law, left there by lawyer-legislators for the benefit of their private practice.

    We need idealists as long as live under big, bloated governments feeding on the lassitude of a citizenry that wants everybody to have a benefit at everybody else’s expense. We need them as long as this nation is trying to live high on money borrowed from our children’s unborn children. We need idealistic, courageous lawyers as long as we have judges who cannot or will not lay aside their politics when they put on the judicial robes.

    I don’t know what it means to you to be a member of the legal profession, but to me it means that I may have some small part of keeping our country the kind of place where every mother’s son is a future president—where the size of a man is not measured from his feet to his head, but from his head to the sky. I like to believe that because I am a lawyer, I can have a part in bringing up a new generation of Americans to believe that it is better to be right than be rich . . . better to be fair than be famous . . . better to honest than be exalted . . . better to be good than be clever . . . better to be free than be secure and better to die on their feet than see their fellow Americans living on their knees.

    The law is a powerful force—a means to obtain gold, or fame or power. Rightly used, it gives us liberty. But wrongly used, it cannot obtain for us the priceless intangibles that are beyond its dominion. No man can open a law book and establish his title to an Oklahoma sunrise. No man can secure by litigation the look of trust and innocence in a child’s eyes. No man can go before a court of law and be awarded the companionship of a true friend or the love and devotion of a faithful wife. And there is no court so high that it can fabricate by decree the sound of a mother’s lullaby or the laughter of a free man.

    No, we have not mastered the law and the Constitution of this might nation, nor are we worthy to be its keepers nor advocates of its God-given freedoms until we have learned these simple laws of liberty:

    Freedom is old, not young, yet it is born anew in the first cry of a free man’s son;
    It is not a living thing, yet it dies if we do not love it;
    It is not weak, but strong; yet it must be defended;
    It is light, yet it weighs heavy on him who is without it;
    It is without price, yet it dearly costs the one who sells it;
    It is not small, but great; yet once lost, it is never, never found again.
    Yes, to be born free is an accident;
    To live free is a responsibility;
    But to die free is an obligation.

    [Note: The views expressed in this speech were those of John Ben Shepperd, and do not necessarily represent the views of the John Ben Shepperd Public Leadership Institute or the University of Texas Permian Basin.]

  31. John Ben Shepperd: National Association of Attorneys General

    Leave a Comment

    June 26, 1957

    National Association of Attorneys General (Sun Valley, Idaho)

     

    Thank you President Wyman for that kind introduction. Seldom have I seen such an important subject handled so well and with such masterful self-restraint and understatement.

    I imagine Lou found himself in the same predicament as the Master of Ceremonies who got up and said, “Our next speaker needs no introduction.  Even if I reminded you who he is, you still wouldn’t remember him.”

    Let me say at the beginning that I’d like to talk all night about the outstanding record I made as Attorney General of Texas and President of this Association because I like to speak on the subjects whenever there is the slightest interest in them. And frankly, you have shown this slightest interest of any group I have ever appeared before.

    I’m very flattered that you have allowed me to come back and mingle with you socially now that I’m only an ex-politician.  I do miss the old life—the charged atmosphere, the great challenges, the bold decisions, the agonizing reappraisals and the hasty apologies.

    Actually, it’s an advantage to be able to talk to you as an ex-Attorney General because I’ve had time as a private citizen to re-examine all the preaching I did as a public official and I’m happy to say that I have not yet changed my tune or eaten any of my words.

    As a matter of fact, since I left public office I haven’t eaten. I’m convinced that the best reason for entering public service is not the call of the people, but the howl of the creditors.

    I used to sit in my office in Austin, contemplating my election and thank the Lord for the wisdom of the people. Now I thank Him for the depletion allowance.

    Another nice thing about getting out of the Attorney General’s office is that you can mingle with your children without a formal introduction. They soon get accustomed to seeing you are the house even though they can’t figure out exactly where you fit into the picture.

    It’s good to be able to finish a meal without being interrupted by the telephone and it’s nice to pick up a morning newspaper and enjoy the latest calamity in the state government along with your coffee without having to dictate a statement denying everything that’s happened in the last 24 hours.

    There’s not much change in the number of phone calls you get in the middle or the night. When you’re in office, it’s usually a “cussin’ call” from somebody you’re trying to put in jail and after you leave office, it’s generally a friend who wants you to get him out.

    But I guess the best thing about being a civilian again is getting away from disgruntled constituents. In Texas all the states officials are issued license plates on which the number is preceded by the letters “SO”, standing for State Official. I just presumed it was a disgruntled constituent with a paint brush who added a large “B” on mine.

    There are other definite advantages to quiet civilian life. In the state capital you’re just another official, but in a small city in West Texas you’re a big shot. I used to walk down the street in Austin and people would say, “There’s that little squirt”. Now I walk down the streets in Odessa and people say, “There’s that big drip”.

    But I didn’t come here to talk about myself—entirely. I want to say a few words about a subject close to everyone’s heart—a subject that competes with Mother, Home and Country for our first allegiance—Texas. I know you’d like to hear a few reverent remarks on that subject because whenever I go outside my native state and announce that I’m going to talk about Texas, everybody says, “Oh, please!”  Some get so emotional they have to get up and leave.

    Actually, we Texans don’t enjoy bragging about Texas as much as you think we do. It’s just that everybody expects it of us. And we are too polite not fulfill our obligations.

    If Elvis Presley were here, you’d expect him to wiggle and talk about hound dogs. Well, the only difference is that when we Texans talk about ourselves, we don’t wiggle.

    Most of you have heard me speak on this topic before and you’ll have to admit that I give you nothing but straight bragging, without editorializing. There are a few degenerates, I admit, who don’t stick to the truth and they give us a bad name. But there aren’t very many of them. Statistically, if all the no-good, lying Texans were piled aboard one train and deported from the state, by golly, I’d have that whole big state to myself!

    You have to realize that there’s something about Texas that make Texas people the way they are. People say we have a nasal quality of speech. If we talk through our noses, it’s because don’t like to stop breathing that Texas air while we talk.

    But it’s mostly our statistical situation that gives us our warm, magnetic personalities. In Texas there are 141,000 more bachelors than there are single women, which enables the girls to be rather choosey. On the other hand, widows outnumber widowers two to one, which makes the widows rather friendly. Whatever else you say about Texas, you have to admit we’ve got friendly widows.

    I know that you will be delighted to know that since I reported to you in Phoenix last year, Texans have drilled 25,000 oil wells; they are now running 292,000 farms and 11,500 factories, carrying 14 billion dollars in life insurance, keeping 2.5 billion on deposit in their 985 banks and getting a substantial part of the 500 million embezzled in the U.S. annually—of course some would have you believe we have been getting all of it.

    They’ve managed to stay pretty busy too. They are running about 70,000 corporations and 121,000 business establishments, including 154 Independent shoe-shine parlors, 58 turkish baths, 20 detective agencies, 31 diaper services and an unknown number of uranium sitting ditches. They have sent more than 3,000 dogs’ heads to the State Health Department to be examined for rabies. They have committed 350,000 major and minor crimes—over 9600 are in the state penitentiary, 4700 in jail and those of us who were lucky enough to stay out have paid over $300,000 in fines.

    They call Texas the land of the big rich and I guess they’re right. If all the minerals, crops and livestock in a given year were divided up among us we’d each get 7/8th’s of a cow, 1/4th of a hog, 4 pounds of pecans, 104 barrels of oil and 1/80th of a jackass.

    There’s a lot of oil in Texas—one producing well for every 64 persons. If all the lucky people who get royalties from oil in Texas were laid end to end, I’d still be standing up.

    I know you will be interested in this: for the first time in our history there are more people in Texas than there are cattle—and that includes bulls.

    Only about one Texan out of 50 in the labor force is unemployed and for every Texan out of work there are 8 unemployed Californians, 16 New Yorkers and 9 Pennsylvanians. But these 3 states exceed Texas in the number of registered automobiles which shows that a lot of Texans are walking to work while a lot of other people I could name are driving to the poorhouse.

    The federal government now owns 1.5% of all the land area of Texas and 754,000 acres of it is devoted to wild life refuges while offices for federal employees have been crowded onto a mere 227 acres. This proves that the bureaucrats are giving this country to the birds.

    The stork is making more stops in Texas than he used to—may be too wet to fly over. He’s making about 120 stops out of every possible 1,000 eligible homes and, of course, a few that ain’t eligible.

    You’ll be glad to know too, that it’s raining in Texas after seven years of drouth. The rain started shortly after the President came to Texas on his drouth area inspection trip—of course, opinions on any connection between the two events depend entirely on your politics.

    Everybody had forgotten where the rivers were and built their homes in the creek bottoms. Then along came the rainiest spring in history and now we have a new leisure class houseboating in the Gulf of Mexico.

    It’s good to see that water coming down out of the sky. Ordinarily when we get water in Texas we have thank God and New Mexico, but not necessarily in that order.

    The water situation has really changed in a few months. When the Legislature convened in January, the first order of business was a bill to let in the wetbacks just to get the moisture. Then they wound up passing maritime laws for the high plains.

    I suppose I ought to say something good about Idaho and the Great Northwest. Since I had never heard anything good about it, I turned to the encyclopedia and the Britannica confirmed my suspicion that it’s too far from Texas to amount to much.

    On Page 59 of Volume 12 it says the Snake River enters Idaho and goes as far as Lewiston where it turns abruptly and leaves the state. I can’t say I blame it. Lewiston was the meeting place of the first Legislature.

    I had hoped to see famed “Hells’ Canyon” while I was here so I could personally look over the thing that had given both parties such a hulluva good campaign issue.

    The Book also talks about how clumsy and slow-moving Idaho is. It says, “Idaho is a big lumber state.”

    As an example to this, I found an instance in history where it said gold was discovered in Idaho in 1860 which started a stampede into the virgin Idaho territory from Walla Walla, Washington. By May of 1861 there were 1,000 men in the new town of Pierce City and four months later—the book says—county officials began functioning there. I must say that if 1,000 men from Washington suddenly turned up in Odessa, Texas, our county officials would get off their fannies a little quicker or we’d get new ones.

    Well that just shows why Texas is such a great state—it’s the inmate modesty of the people. We try to give other states their just due. Live and let live is our motto. That’s why Texans are born four times as fast as they die and we are able to export 40 or 50 thousand a year.

    There are 430,000 eloquent Texans in California which accounts for the fact that we are all well acquainted with the virtues of California. Every year we also export about 65,000 Texans to the Great Beyond which may account for the fact that we know so much more about Hades than about Heaven.

    I’ve been amazed at the number of former Texans I’ve found up here. Every few minutes one of them has sidled up to me and whispered his secret. It’s been so long since he could tell anybody that he keeps coming back.

    Actually, I know there are a lot of displaced Texans in this part of the country and I’d like to tell them collectively, that I talked with the Governor just before I left Paradise and he said you can all come home. You’ve suffered enough and he’ll give you a pardon.

    But I’m sure you wouldn’t recommend a pardon for me unless I move along.

    It is an honor to be here with so many men of important position. I choose my words carefully when I say “of important position” rather than “Important Men”, out of respect for your maturity and experience.

    You see, when I served in my first public office as a County Commissioner, I felt pretty important. But it wasn’t long until my father, who had held the office before me, told me something that he the thought I had failed to realize—namely, that other men had preceded me in that office and other men would follow me and in that process of change the world would not stagger one inch off its axis.

    I found this disturbing at the time, but when I as elected Attorney General I was grateful for having learned, as you have, that it is not the man who is important, but the job.

    The job of the State Attorney General is the most important job in the national scheme of things at this juncture in our history. There is nothing in our governmental arrangement more basic than the division of powers between the federal and state governments. Our system of federated, delegated and retained powers, which has existed from the beginning, is now undergoing a shakedown trial. We are in the midst of a cold civil war on the legal plane, testing whether that system shall stand or whether America, too, will go the way of all noble experiments in freedom, winding up over-centralized, over-patronized, over-taxed and over-governed.

    There’s nothing wrong with centralized, socialistic government as long as it does not undermine the citizen’s character, rob him of his liberties or take away his ability to govern himself. But that’s like saying it’s all right to indulge in a little temptation as long as you don’t get embroiled in sin.

    Centralized government has its advantages. In some ways it is more efficient and it eliminates some of the legal and other barriers imposed by state lines.

    But my chief objection to the federal government under both parties in the last 35 years is not the money spent, but the fact that it has tended to destroy the moral fiber of the people. It has fostered the belief that we can look for benefits at the end of somebody else’s arm . . . that it isn’t necessary to work and save because the government will take care of us . . . that we will have no obligation to dear old Mom and Dad because the government will look after them . . . and that we can forever get by with spending the money of our children’s unborn children.

    It encourages the working man to spit on his boss instead of his hands. It treats private enterprise like a temporary, necessary evil. It teaches, not by precept but by practice, that there is nothing on the moral or spiritual plane that is worth as much as a higher material standard of living. The federal government has stopped merely patronizing and has started pandering to the whims of a fictitious “average citizen” who purportedly wants everything on a silver platter. If this goes on, we are going to produce a nation of people without purpose or backbone, who will try to vote for prosperity instead of working for it.

    I am of the sincere and studied opinion that these things would not and could not happen if a proper system of checks and balances were maintained between the federal and state governments. Proponents of centralization know this because history is replete with precedents of inescapable authority where peoples have had to tread again and again the group of great issues, comparable the great issues confronting us today.

    Sometimes it means being a busybody and other time being stubborn—having a strong will and a strong won’t. Now and then it means getting mad and very often it means standing alone in the belief that you are right and the crow is wrong. It means being a wet blanket and sacrificing your personal popularity on the altar of self-respect.

    It isn’t easy to be a good public official and a real leader when every issue has two sides with good people standing on both of them. It gets even tougher at election time when there are two sides to every office—inside and outside. There is no problem too small for your critics to turn into a crisis and you have to be everywhere at once with your eyes open, like a chaperone at a Senior Prom on a warm spring night. A politician has a lot in common with a girl who is careful of her complexion. Both have to apply a lot of oil to save their face and both sooner or later wind up in a mud pack.

    It isn’t easy to be an Attorney General’s wife, either. About the time her husband gets all his law books bought and paid for, he gets into office where he has a whole library at his disposal and all his personal books are dumped in the living room at home—and there they sit, like salt in the wound, representing the Lord only knows how many new dresses that were never bought and new hats that could never be afforded.

    She sits at the breakfast table with him, staring at the want ads on the back of his newspaper, finally brushes the paper aside and confronts him to say, “We’ve got to decide which college Junior is going to.” He bends his faraway gaze on her and replies, “Yes, by golly, you’re right. We should file that lawsuit and I’ll get the boys to work on a brief right away”.

    Everybody in his office knows his itinerary for the next three weeks, but his wife doesn’t know whether he’ll be home for dinner Friday night until she calls and drags it out of his secretary.

    Other families save up for a vacation, but her family saves up for a campaign and the fortunes of the whole family are subject to the vicissitudes of public opinion. Little Junior comes in to breakfast in the morning and says, “Mother, do you think I can wear my glasses on the school ground today?” And his mother says, “Wait a minute and let’s see what the morning paper says about your father.”

    I’ve often wondered who has the toughest time—the Attorney General, his family or his assistants. His assistants do all the work. If it turns out well, he gets the credit and if it doesn’t, they get the blame. They do everything from walking the Attorney General’s dog to writing his speeches—then they have to sit in the audience and laugh at their own jokes.

    Nor is the fact that this struggle for the preservation of our system of dual-sovereignty is taking place in our legal and judiciary systems new. Proponents of centralization in many countries have furthered their cause by making law the tool of the state to further the objectives of government.

    It does, however, increase not only the importance but the work of those who are the chief legal officers of the various states.

    The Attorney General of a state is the anchor-man of our basic liberties. He is the keeper of the only gate through which government by the people, at home, can pass into the hands of nebulous, faceless bureaucrats a thousand miles away. The great treasonable crime of the Twentieth Century is the removal of the people’s government from the vicinity of the people.

    When a federal action, whether by a federal bureaucratic seizure of power, a political decision of a federal court by judges steeped in radical social theory and self-trained in the art of masquerading theory as law, or an unwarranted act of Congress, threatens a state and its laws, whether it be in the field of education; conservation of natural resources; regulation of insurance companies; enforcement of anti-subversive legislation; control of intrastate water; the procedure of state courts; the unjustified review of hundreds of state court convictions; jeopardizing trial by jury; the opening of the prosecution’s files in the investigation of criminal cases; the regulation of violence; mass unrestrained picketing and unlawful boycotts by labor; the power of a state to tax; the power to regulate the use of highways and roads—it is the duty of the Attorney General to protest against that threat at the top of his lungs and to the limit of his ability and budget.

    Every Attorney General is well aware that there are many things the states cannot do and some believe that the federal government ought to be allowed to move in. By the same reasoning, if your wife is not perfect, you should call in your mother-in-law.

    The Attorney General of a state is the product and then servant of state and local governments, bound by all moral and ethical constraints to preserve those governments from destruction. His duty is clearly laid out before him. He is either a very important man or a miserably insignificant man, depending on whether he is doing that duty.

    It isn’t easy to be an Attorney General. It means doing everything for the good of others, which often amounts to doing it in spite of them. Sometimes it means you have to be a sponge and absorb a lot of insult and ingratitude. It means knowing how to face opposition and stiffen your spine instead of arching your back.

    No doubt about it, public service takes a little extra sacrifice, a little extra devotion, and a little extra personal pride in doing an important job.

    I’ve often asked myself what a good Attorney General is like and what factors contribute toward making him that way. From my personal contacts with you and my observations as a member of this great Association—here is the way he looks to me.

    A good Attorney General thinks personal success as an individual depends not on how the world treats him, but on how he treat the world. He thinks the only thing he can take with him is what he has given to others and that the only awards and trophies he can call his own are the sacrifices he has laid down for the cause. He thinks the only way he can come up in the world is to keep his feet on the ground and stay on the level and that as long has he does, he can be as proud of his enemies as he is of his friends.

    A good Attorney General is so unsophisticated that he still believes in the old ideals that made his country great. He is naive enough to believe that it’s better to be right than be rich . . . better to fair than be famous . . . better to be honest than be exalted . . . better to be good than be clever . . . better to be free than be secure . . . better for people to run their own government than to beg from it . . . and better to be a good lawyer and a patriot than to be a good politician.

    A good Attorney General is not genius. He can’t solve the problems of his state by sitting in an air-conditioned office and drifting into the cool stratosphere of abstract thought. He has to put his shoulder to the wheel, his hand in God’s hand and pray like a lost sinner while he totes the barges and lifts the bales. And he has found out by experience that an ounce of sweat carries more weight with God than a bucket of tears.

    And what does a good Attorney General do? Therein lies the simplest question and the hardest job. A good Attorney General defends the Constitution he is sworn to uphold.

    He defends it against political crooks and demagogues who creep into local government to pull down the wool curtain of secrecy, close the open doors of public office and steal away the people’s liberties.

    He defends it against public apathy and indolence by searching out the ways in which local and state governments can do for themselves what ought to be done at home. He helps to put courage into local government, to stimulate local enterprise, and to assure business and industry that they can go forward without fear of being investigated, harassed and accused out of existence.

    He defends the Constitution against the encroachments of big, bloated government with veracious appetites for power and against starry-eyed political judges who arrogantly assert what they think the law ought to be instead of interpreting what the law is. He helps the Attorneys General of his sister states in their struggles against the theft and seizure of their rightful and unrelinquished powers.

    Yes, a good Attorney General stands boldly and courageously—thinking of the legal issues involved and not about the next election—as freedom’s advocate in defiance of corruption, social decay, public degeneracy and the rise of arbitrary power.

    And at the end of it all, his reward is not great by the world’s standards. All he has is the comfortable realization that he did what he could to build his community, his state, his nation. He can say with solemn pride that while others stayed in the background, he came forward and threw down the gauntlet to all the problems and injustices that hung over his countrymen. He can say that while others were following the crowd, he followed his conscience. He was working to keep every dot and dash in the Constitution while others were concerned only with putting feathers in their cap.

    It should be enough for a man if he can say, after a couple of terms in office or after a whole lifetime, that he has done what he could to keep this country the kind of place where every mother’s son is a future president . . . where men and women are free to work and enjoy the fruits of their labor . . . Where the fulfillment of our dreams is in the helping hand at the end of our own right arm.  Where opportunity is unlimited and the size of a man is not measured from his head to his feet, but from his head to the sky . . . where men can walk upright, take off a hat to nobody and serve their own God.

    And these things are possible only where there is a constitutional form of government with an independent judiciary and legal profession. Because the law is a powerful force and he that holds a law book in his hand—backed by the resources and prestige of his state—holds the most sacred trust that man can bestow upon man. The law rightly used gives and preserves our liberties. But it is equally important to always in mind that wrongly used, it cannot obtain the priceless intangibles that are beyond its dominion. No Attorney General can open a law book and establish title to a sunrise over his state; no Attorney General can secure by litigation the look of trust and innocence in a child’s eyes—nor the respect of the people of his state; no Attorney General can go before a court of law and be awarded the companionship of a true friend or the love and devotion of a faithful wife. And there is no court so high that it can fabricate by decree the sound of a mother’s lullaby or the laughter of a free man.

    No, you have not mastered the law nor have you done your part in preserving and improving man’s noblest Instrument of self-government—our Constitution—nor are you worthy to be its keepers nor advocates of its God-given freedom until you have impressed in your heart and soul these simple laws of liberty:

    Freedom is old, not young; yet it is born anew in the first cry of a free man’s son;
    It is not a living thing, yet it dies if we do not love it;
    It is not weak, but strong; yet it must be defended;
    It is light, yet it weighs heavy on him is without it;
    It is without price, yet it dearly costs the one who sells it;
    It is not small, but great; yet once lost, it is never, never found again.
    Yes, to be born free is an accident;
    To live free is a responsibility;
    But to die free is an obligation.

    [Note: The views expressed in this speech were those of John Ben Shepperd, and do not necessarily represent the views of the John Ben Shepperd Public Leadership Institute or the University of Texas Permian Basin.]

  32. John Ben Shepperd: Joint Civic Club Luncheon

    Leave a Comment

    July 2, 1957

    Joint Civic Club Luncheon on the occasion of millionth person visiting the Crimemobile (Mineral Wells, Texas)

     

    Every year in our country forty or fifty peace officers lay down their lives in the line of duty.

    Many thousands of others go on about the dangerous and thankless job of guarding our homes, our lives, our property and our peace of mind. While we play, they work. They patrol the streets while we sleep. Day in and day out they take it upon themselves to deal with the world’s anger and viciousness and greed and sorrow. They are daily witnesses to human misery and they are well acquainted with violence and bloodshed.

    They work year in and year out for low salaries, without glamour, without fame, and usually without recognition.

    They ask no special rewards. They don’t ask for praise, and they don’t ask for sympathy. They ask for only one small thing—the one thing they should not have to ask for. They want understanding and intelligent cooperation from the public they serve—and they are not getting it. Their biggest obstacle as they go about their almost impossible job is the apathy and unconcern of the public.

    Because citizens are unconcerned, law enforcement officers are badly equipped with the tools and facilities of crime fighting. They are hampered by ancient criminal laws that should have been amended and re-codified thirty years ago, and they are impeded by financial appropriations that are absurdly inadequate for the task.

    There, in a nutshell, you have the reason for the existence for the Texas Law Enforcement Foundation, which is something new in crime fighting. It is a national pioneer in the field. There is no other organization like it in the world.

    The primary purpose of TLEF is to make the citizens of Texas aware of their part in law enforcement—to help them understand the law. The purpose and the goals of the TLEF are lofty and vast. They can best be described in a simple story of bravery that happened in Texas last year.

    In a little Texas community a fine, respected citizen suddenly went berserk. He had a gun and was threatening to kill the first person who came within range. The sheriff of that Texas county had been seriously wounded the year before by another ordinary citizen whose mind had suddenly snapped, and the man who had held the job of sheriff before him had been blinded by still another deranged person with a gun. Nobody was going to take any chances with this man—they would shoot him if they had too.

    A Texas Ranger, named Lewis Rigler, arrived on the scene, and if any man ever had could courage, Rigler did. He threw away both his guns, began talking to the man, stepped into his line of fire in spite of the man’s warning that he was going to shoot, and walked right up to him and talked him into laying his gun down. It is one thing to face and intelligent criminal who is able to reason, and it is another thing to walk unarmed up to an excited maniac who wants to kill. When Lewis Rigler was commended for a job well done, his only reply was that he did exactly what he had been trained to do, nothing more.

    The purpose of the Texas Law Enforcement Foundation is to gain public support and cooperation for men like Lewis Rigler—to keep such men their jobs, give them a living wage, to furnish them the tools of their profession, and to train many law enforcement officers to do their duty with such courage, such devotion, such personal dedication.

    It is not the purpose of the Texas Law Enforcement Foundation to criticize, to supervise or to prod the men who enforce the law. Lewis Rigler did not a crime committee to look over his shoulder and tell him how to approach a dangerous man, or to goad him into action with the pitchfork of criticism. The purpose of the TLEF is to help, not hinder or harass.

    A great deal has been said about purpose—but what about the accomplishment of the TLEF? What, specifically, is it doing that makes it a new frontier, a second front, in the war on crime? Its activities are as vast as its goals, and there is time here to name only a few.

    Its most familiar and well-known undertaking is the Crimemobile, a crime-detection laboratory on wheels that travels thousands of miles a year and has been visited, since it was a launched in 1956, by one million Texans. The Crimemobile goes anywhere in the state by invitation from schools and civic clubs, to impress young people, particularly, with the fact that crime does not pay and that modern justice is inescapable. More than that, it familiarizes the public with the techniques of crime fighting, and gains support for bigger, better law enforcement efforts.

    No less significant than the Crimemobile in its long-range effectiveness is the Foundation’s work toward establishing four year college courses in criminology for those who want to make crime fighting a life’s work. You can go to any good college or university and get a degree in English, drama, physical education or real estate. Is fighting crime less important than speaking good English, being athletic or selling houses and lots? Crime costs Americans about twenty billion dollars a year. It costs Texans one billion every twelve months—more than is spent in this state for all the schools, highways and public institutions combined—more than for entire state government. It costs every Texas family about $500 annually. Worse than that, a murder, manslaughter, rape or assault is committed every four minutes, and a major crime every twelve seconds. This is the price we pay for being unconcerned.

    The Foundation believes in education. It is dedicated to education. Besides working for the inclusion of crime-fighting in college curricula, the TLEF:

    • Administers the scholarships awarded every year to the children of officers who have lost their lives in the line of duty;
    • Aids in financing a Police Training Academy conducted by the Southwestern Legal Foundation of Southern Methodist University;
    • Co-sponsors numerous conferences and training courses for police officers and prosecutors in cooperation with the Texas Department of Public Safety, Attorney General’s Office, State Bar and Texas University;
    • Publishes the TLEF Bulletin, which provides important information on court decisions, new techniques, and late developments in crime fighting to more than 25,000 peace officers, agencies, judges, prosecutors, schools and interested citizens throughout Texas;
    • Provides the Texas Police Association with training films for use by police agencies;
    • Publishes the “Peace Officer’s Handbook” which sums up for the law enforcement officer the legal authority for his actions and points out the limits beyond which he cannot go;
    • Is working to establish a Criminology Libraries containing a minimum of $150 worth of books in every county in Texas (this vitally important project is making especially great headway);
    • Sponsors “Law Enforcement Appreciation Week” and makes awards for outstanding service to district and county attorneys, sheriffs, Justices of the Peace, Constables, and others.

    But education is only one part, one aspect, of the Foundation’s work. It also takes a direct part in the actual war on crime. It maintains a $3,000 revolving fund for the use of Texas narcotics agents in the expensive process of “buying” evidence—that is, narcotics—from the peddlers and pushers who sell drugs illegally. Officers, otherwise, have to bear this expense personally until reimbursed by a tedious process of requisition and red tape.

    There are other expenses, too, that peace officers often have to bear out of their own pockets, and the Foundation is working to relieve them of that burden. Many Texas counties have radio equipment in the Sheriff’s Office only because the sheriff was willing to pay for it out of his salary. TLEF conducts a continuing survey of sheriff’s communications system, and since this project started, thirty counties have acquired radio equipment for the first time. There are still many deficiencies to overcome.

    Not least among its many activities, the Foundation is making detailed studies in vast and neglected fields of law enforcement—the administration of criminal justice, personnel, salaries, equipment, criminology—with the object of getting improvements in the process of justice from the making of a law down to the incarceration and rehabilitation of the lawbreaker. TLEF is working with appropriate agencies to bring about more accurate and more extensive reporting of the number and types of crime in Texas, and intends to enter every field and batter down every barrier in order to see the number of crimes in Texas diminish year by year until Texas is a model state in the efficiency of law enforcement.

    Among the Foundation’s proudest and most pleasant activities is its operation of one of the finest organizations in America—the JETS—made up of thousands of children who have earned their membership on the Junior Enforcement Team by visiting their local law enforcement agencies or courts, by taking part in law enforcement activities at school, by talking with their parents about obeying the law, and by taking a pledge to cooperate with law enforcement officers in every way they can. The value of this kind of citizen recruitment will be measured when a new generation of Texans has grown up with deeper respect for the law and a better appreciation of law enforcement.

    So you see, the Foundation’s goals and activities are indeed broad. They range from putting dope peddlers in jail to putting orphans through school—from running police training academies to operating a law enforcement team for children. And this is only the beginning. There is no limit to what nine million Texans can do for better law enforcement if they get behind such an organization.

    How did all this get started? Who decided that peace officers should not be forced to fight crime and public indifference too? Who came to the conclusion that the public is responsible for good or bad enforcement, and that only the public can rectify the national disgrace of crime?

    The idea began when as Attorney General, I observed that Texas justice had gone about as far is it could go unless Texas citizens were awakened to their responsibilities. Officers attending one of the annual Attorney General’s Law Enforcement Conference agreed, and said, “The next forward step in law enforcement must come from the people”.

    Texas businessmen and industrial concerns were quick to recognize the value of the idea. TLEF was chartered in 1955 as an educational, non-profit organization, and its beginning was financially underwritten by business, industry, and the professions. Ninety prominent businessmen now comprise the Board of Directors, and Colonel Homer Garrison, Jr., Director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, heads a fifteen-member Advisory Council of professional law enforcement officers who take part in developing all of TLEF’s major policies. Erle Stanley Gardner, internationally famous author, attorney and criminologist, has served as special advisor to the TLEF since it was started. In the directorship of the organization peace officers work shoulder to shoulder with doctors, lawyers, bankers, oilmen, ranchers and citizens of all walks of life. Their actions are constructive and positive, their aims are ambitious, and their horizons are unlimited. The Foundation’s idea is simple but revolutionary, and its potentialities are beyond the imagination.

    A remarkable fact about this growing Texas organization is that instead of asking for government help, its primary purpose is to help government. This is the way Americans work to meet the needs of modern society without increasing taxation, extending governmental authority over their lives, or expecting agencies and bureaus to accomplish for them what ought to be come accomplished with the heads, hearts and hands of the people. There is an example here for the citizens of all America, and a warning, there is also a prayer that the human misery and suffering wrought by crime might be lessened because citizens’ hands are stretched out to each other in cooperation for the common good of all.

    [Note: The views expressed in this speech were those of John Ben Shepperd, and do not necessarily represent the views of the John Ben Shepperd Public Leadership Institute or the University of Texas Permian Basin.]

  33. John Ben Shepperd: Desk and Derrick Employers Appreciation Banquet

    Leave a Comment

    May 10, 1957

    Desk and Derrick Employers Appreciation Banquet (Odessa, Texas)

     

    . . . But I had better get to moving faster or you will be plugging me for a dry hole.

    It is always with feelings of trepidation when I stand before an audience composed primarily of women, especially those who are smart enough to make their bosses feel like this is their night and maybe even feel like they are running their own businesses. I learned a long time ago that no one can size up a man the way a woman can and I have a profound respect for womanhood. As the poet put it: “The weaker sex is understood to mean the whole of womanhood, but I have yet to find the man who knows whom it is weaker than.”

    People have always been fond of making up stories and repeating sayings about the ways of women. It is a well-known fact that men in general have a habit for repeating the stories. They like to refer to women as “weaker vessels” or “nature’s agreeable blunders”. They delight in groaning that the advice of a woman is worthless, but woe to the man who does not take it. Men would have you believe that women are like the weather—unpredictable, inescapable and irrestible.

    There wouldn’t be so much talk about the fairer sex if women weren’t a pretty important subject. For a number of centuries now they have been building nations, causing wars and changing the course of history. There is one old saying that I believe is true—that while there is a world, a woman will govern it.

    Down through history women have always been a source of trouble. The face of Helen launched a thousand ships and caused the destruction of Troy. Pandora opened the lid of a box and let out all the evils of the world. But in spite of these things, I want you to know I am not in favor of doing away with women.

    It’s actually a woman’s world—at least they own and control most of it financially. Women own a majority of the stock in railroads, bus lines, utilities, steel and 44% of oil.

    Women buy 90% of men’s neckties. Women spend 7 ½ out over 10 consumer dollars in this country and they have proved they can spend money more wisely than men with maybe one exception—last year women spent over $69 million on lipsticks.

    They should have credit of course for the amount that rubbed off on men. You notice I didn’t say bosses.

    Women spent $132 million on shampoos; $88 million on home permanents; $26.5 million on rinses, tints and dyes. Incidentally, more women are using these to become blondes—I suppose they have heard that gentlemen prefer—but then that’s another subject.

    Last year women spent $66 million for cleansing cream; $52.8 million on make-up bases and a mere $8.8 million on eye make-up. This doesn’t include an additional $2.8 billion spent in beauty shops. But then girls will be girls or do their darndest to be.

    Someone raised a very pertinent issue before this meeting started as to why I was selected to make this talk tonight when I had been associated with the oil business for such a short time.  There are three very good reasons. The first one is that I usually make a speech when I am asked; second, I know so little about the oil business that my speech could neither become belabored or hindered with facts; and last, but actually the controlling factor, I do it for nothing—or to be even more frank than that, Peggy Underwood got Mr. Noel to tell me to do it—so here I am.

    I’m very happy for this chance to talk to some of the real reasons for the greatness of the oil industry. Everywhere I go the first thing I look for is the unsung heroines which includes practically all the women in the vicinity. I haven’t been in the petroleum branch of the oil business very long, but I was in politics for several years where we dealt in oil of a different kind. That’s why I figured I’d better start off with a little flattery—they say if a speaker doesn’t strike oil in the first few minutes’, he’d better stop boring.

    I want you members of the Desk and Derrick to understand right off that I’m very grateful to you for helping me get started in the oil business. When I came out here to join Mr. Rodman and Mr. Noel, I seized an opportunity to attend a luncheon of the Desk and Derrick Club in Austin, hoping to pick up some of the basic terminology of the oil field. It got pretty basic a couple of times. Some of those girls belong up on a derrick. Some of them are built like a derrick too, but that’s beside the point.

    Actually, there were very helpful to me although I misconstrued some of their terminology. I heard them use the terms, “wildcat”, “operator”, “crude”, “stripper”, ”gusher” and “blow-off” several times before I realized they were talking about one of the other members.

    I can say with all seriousness that I’ve developed a great respect for the women of the oil business and allied industries as I see them here and t her working either for, with or on an oilman. Nature has given women so much power that I’m not surprised the law gives them so little. A lot of big oilmen would be out on a limb if they didn’t have their office girls, women assistants and partners to do the paper work, fill out the forms and do the figuring. I understand that a girl can belong to the Desk and Derrick Club if she gets as much as 50% of her income from the oil business. The ones I’ve seen are getting just about that percentage of what they’re worth.

    But of course, I realize that your greatest compensations have nothing to do with your salary. You’re privileged to work in the romantic, fascinating oil business where you can hear Cadillacs purr and smell the expensive cigars. There’s nothing more fascinating than having expensive cigar smoke blown in your face.

    It should give you some pride, however, to realize that you are working for a breed of men that is increasing in number and prestige. Statistically, if all the Texas oilmen now in business were laid end to end, it would meet with the unanimous approval of the Desk and Derrick Club.

    Another reason why I was invited to be here on this occasion when you are honoring your bosses could be that I have been very successful in reducing the number of my bosses, which is worth considering at any time. This time last year I had over 8 ½ million bosses—all the people in Texas. Now I only have three: Mr. Rodman, Mr. Noel and my wife.

    I suppose we are going to have to say something about the bosses since you have gotten them out here.

    There is actually something very fascinating about people in the oil business and those work with them in the allied servicing industries. There are those who are unkind enough to say that people in the oil business—your bosses—don’t have a very high regard for the truth. But the fact is they value it very highly; that is why they are so economical with it. Remember though, there is one sure way tell if oil man is lying—if his mouth is open, he is lying.

    Now that we have paid this tribute to bosses, I think we should go back to women. One of the most important events in the history of the oil business was the coming of women into the business. Historians are unable to say when the first woman was given a job in the oil industry, but we do know that as far back as the days of the Roman empire, Cleopatra anointed and massaged both Caesar and Mark Anthony with oil, so we can say that she was at least the first woman to make a living from the industry.

    We have come a long way since Cleopatra’s time. Women have taken their rightful place beside men in the oil business and their contributions have been enormous. We spend a lot of time admiring the long-suffering pioneer women of Texas who not only had to put up with pioneering, but also with the pioneers, but we don’t stop often to pay tribute to the girl in the office who has to take dictation from a man with a cigar in his mouth, run interference for him in the outer office and keep the crackpots away, remind the boss to send flowers to his wife and take his pill at 3 o’clock, sit and listen sympathetically when he starts airing his troubles and turn smiles of adulation on him when he brags about his triumphs. They say the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world and all the little boys are not in the nursery.

    So I guess it’s true that as long as there’s a world, women will run it. Men found out a long time ago that it doesn’t help much to be full of the old drive if you haven’t got a woman around to tell you where to go.

    I have also been impressed by the fact that the Desk and Derrick is the only woman’s organization in the oil industry. I know of your fine work here in Odessa, of the educational programs that you have, your work with the Oil Show, the beautiful floats that have consistently won first place in the Oil Show Parade, your cooperation with the Oil Information Committee, your participation in the poll-tax drive and the very constructive seminar sponsored at Odessa College last year, at which time you brought in outstanding authorities on the oil industry to speak to your regional group.

    I think it is imperative that this organization together with all segments of the oil industry stand united in meeting the present challenge on the part of misguided bureaucrats and power-hungry demagogues to take over the oil industry, lock, stock and barrel, and make it a socialistic pawn to buy votes, appease minorities and juggle from pillar to post.

    The whole oil industry is slowly but surely moving under the complete control and domination of the federal government.  The gas industry is already there; the oil industry is on its way unless we are able to mobilize the thinking people of this nation to leave the development of this valuable natural resource in the hands of private enterprise and initiative, the very forces that have enabled it to make such a great contribution to our country. The new Harris Gas Bill is such a watered-down piece of legislation that very little, if any, relief would be afforded by its passage and adding insult to injury, the Eisenhower administration this week proposed two more crippling amendments that would weaken it even further.

    Yes, you are in the oil business and the oil business is in politics. There is no more closely regulated, more heavily taxed industry in the state or the nation and you are a part of it. When it becomes socialized, don’t think you won’t be effected. Just talk to people in other countries who work for a socialized industry. Observe their long faces and blank expression. They are told when and where, how and with whom to work, where to live and they can’t even quit without government consent.

    Yes, this is your fight. We long ago got rid of the idea that a woman’s place is only in the home and it is about time we got rid of the idea that a woman’s place is only behind a desk or in front of a filing cabinet. She belongs wherever her talents and abilities can be used and that includes the field of public affairs and the molding of public opinion.

    And don’t say you don’t know anything about public affairs. Any girl who can sit filing her fingernails, chewing gum, chatting on the phone, typing a personal letter, reading the dress ads, listening to the office gossip out of one ear and look busy all at the same time can also stay abreast of public affairs.

    How do you mold public opinion to preserve your job, preserve your industry, preserve America’s free enterprise system? You become active in civic affairs. You get in a position to make your voice heard and respected in your community.

    And don’t say you can’t do this. Any girl who can run out to a 1 cent sale, read a fashion magazine in the little girls’ room, collect money for an office party or gift, go to the beauty shop on her lunch hour, take two coffee breaks, repair her snagged hose, fix her face three or four times and still get her work done would be a whirlwind on a civic committee.

    Public affairs shouldn’t be a problem to a woman. Any girl who can work for three or four different bosses, none of whom is as smart as she is, and keep them all happy owes it to her country to be active in public affairs.

    And as for her bosses—a lot of oilmen are sitting around private offices who belong in public service. They say that most of the men who have brains enough to run a government also have brains enough to stay out of it. But that isn’t the kind we need. We need men and women who are dumb enough to think that they can achieve good government themselves by rolling up a sleeve and going to work.

    Psychologists are changing their theories nowadays about whether the brain is really the seat of all mental processes. They’ve about decided that the spinal cord has a great deal to do with over-all intelligence. My tobacco-spitting grandfather could have told you that much. He used to say that citizen without a backbone might as well not have a head either for all the good he could do.

    It takes a lot of backbone to do the little things that citizens have to do to preserve the liberties we enjoy under a Constitution and a system of private enterprise. It isn’t easy to drag yourself out of a plush-bottom chair and go to a meeting of the city council. It isn’t easy for a girl in the office to tell her boss he ought to be reading the editorials along with the sports page. It isn’t easy to grin and go when you get a summons to serve on the jury—and when the boss has spent a couple of weeks in the jury box, he usually feels that his service justifies getting his employees excused.

    After a rough day at the office, it’s hard to put your shoes back on your aching feet and walk down the precinct convention and it isn’t easy to get up for church on Sunday morning after working till midnight Saturday. But if you think you’re going to keep your state and country free by tipping your hat to the church on your way to the club, you’ve flipped your lid.

    Freedom was born in the little business houses of Philadelphia and Boston and it lives in the tall buildings that house the office of our great industries, chiefly oil, the backbone of our political and economic system.

    But where does freedom die? It dies in the swanky offices where an oilman is sitting around waiting for the governor to drop in with an appointment to a state board, while the local school board and civic committee are crying for qualified member. It dies on the downtown sidewalk over which men and women no longer walk to the polls because they don’t want to leave an air-conditioned building. It dies in the public squares where people no longer attend political rallies and on the steps of the school house where mothers and fathers never set foot because they’re too busy.

    Freedom expires in church pews that are never filled and in the empty seats of the meetings of the Desk and Derrick Club of Odessa. It dies in homes where half the family just hangs around waiting for the other half to get back with the car. It perishes wherever people are too stiff-necked to bow their heads and too weak-kneed to walk the straight line of responsibility.

    What can we do? As citizens and oilmen and women we can work to put more responsible people in our government—individuals who appreciate the value of freedom, free enterprise and the tax dollar. Men and women who can and will execute policies consistent with our basic beliefs of economy, efficiency and integrity—office holders dedicated to the fundamental concept of getting and keeping government out of business and undertaking only those services that government should perform, leaving other things to individual and private initiatives.

    Get in public office yourself if you have to do it to protect your country. Doing things for good government takes a lot of qualities that women have in abundance. Any girl on a reception desk who can tell a visitor the boss is out of town when his loud voice is clearly audible in the background has the essential assets of a politician. Any girl who can be happy working a fifty hour week while her boss takes a sixty-five hour week-end has the stickibility of a bureaucrat.

    There is not a woman working in the oil business who wouldn’t be right at home in the state or national capitol. If you have ever viewed an office girl wheedling a little special service out of the janitor, postman, the building manager or the office supply salesman, you have seen a master lobbyist at work and if you have ever seen an office girl on the telephone, you have seen a filibuster.

    We must remember too that the oil industry was made great by rugged individualists—by men and women who weren’t afraid or ashamed to sweat, to cry, to pray and to cuss if necessary, and sometimes when it wasn’t necessary, and we have an obligation to carry on that heritage.

    The bosses here tonight are entitled to employees with courage and vision—who won’t become so concerned with extra benefits and guaranteed income that they lose sight of the value to excel on their own.

    This country would be a lot better off too, if more people were spitting on their hands instead of on their bosses.

    The greatest fault of the American people is our materialism and lack of real concern for good government. Half of us are trying to buy all the good things in life with money and the other half is trying to vote them into existence.

    But who can open up a safety deposit box and file away a title to the West Texas sunset? Who can lay gold on the counter and buy the look of trust and innocence in a child’s eyes? Can anybody dig into his pocketbook and buy a good conscience or a lifetime of proud accomplishment? No man can trade hard cash for the companionship of a true friend or purchase at any price the love and devotion of a good woman or good man. And all the money in all the treasuries of the world is not worth the sound of a mother’s lullaby or the laughter of a free man.

    Because freedom is old, not young;
    yet it is born anew in the first cry of a free man’s son;
    It is not a living thing, yet it dies if we do not love it;
    It is not weak, but strong; yet it must be defended:
    It is light, yet it weighs heavy on him who is without it;
    It is without price, yet it dearly costs the one who sells it;
    It is not small, but great; yet once lost, it is never, never found again.
    Yes, to be born free is an accident;
    To live free is a responsibility;
    To die free is an obligation.

    [Note: The views expressed in this speech were those of John Ben Shepperd, and do not necessarily represent the views of the John Ben Shepperd Public Leadership Institute or the University of Texas Permian Basin.]

  34. John Ben Shepperd: National Federation of Press Women

    Leave a Comment

    April 19, 1957

    National Federation of Press Women (San Antonio, Texas)

     

    Thank you for that very flattering and truthful introduction. It’s been a long time since I’ve heard anything I enjoyed so much or agreed with so completely.

    However, she probably found herself in the same predicament as the Mistress of Ceremonies who had to introduce another obscure character from a small Texas town by saying, “Our next speaker needs no introduction; even if I told you who he is, you still wouldn’t know him.”

    It falls my happy duty tonight to welcome you in behalf of the great state of Texas.

    I was selected for this honor for three reasons: First, I am one of the few successful politicians in Texas—I quit; second, I’m a rare Texan because I have an inferiority complex about Texas; third, and actually the controlling factor—I do it for nothing.

    It is, of course, customary on such an occasion to say a few words about the host state. I’ll talk about Texas whenever there is the slightest interest in that noble subject and frankly, you have indicated the slightest interest in the subject of any group I have talked to recently.

    Yes, I want to extend a very warm and cordial welcome to those of you who are from outside the Lone Star State. Let me reassure you at the outset that we don’t blame you for being born somewhere else. You’re still welcome in the great and bountiful State of Texas. We trust that you will be able to stay here long enough to become thoroughly inTexicated.

    It would be helpful though if you brought your own water. The drouth is so bad we’ve started letting in wetbacks just to get the moisture.

    We’re getting smarter in Texas though as you no doubt have already discovered. We finally are learning that it’s easier to pick a tourist—particularly a convention tourist—than it is to pick cotton. And it’s a lot more fun too. I’ve tried both and I know. We’re doing well at it too. Last year we just picked four million bales of cotton but we picked eight and one-half million Yankee tourists for a total of $379,000,000.

    I guess you wonder when I’m going to get around to bragging about Texas.  We Texans actually don’t enjoy that sort of thing, but it has come to be expected of us and were to polite not to fulfill our obligations.

    When you come right down to it, there aren’t actually many Texans who brag. If all the bragging Texans were laid end to end—it would meet with the unanimous approval of the rest of the country.

    You out-of-staters think we don’t have a very high regard for the truth, but the fact is we value it very highly and that’s why we’re so economical with it. Remember though, there’s a one sure way to tell if a Texan is lying—if his mouth is open, he’s lying.

    While you’re here, you’ll find that Texas is the healthiest place in the world. We have to go across the state line to get sick. Texans are not only healthier but they live longer too. Texas is so much like heaven they don’t see the point in moving on. Besides, there’s always the element of doubt as to which way they’d go.

    Texans are accused of having a nasal quality of speech. If we talk through our noses, it is because we don’t want to stop breathing Texas air while we talk.

    Eighty percent of Texans are native born. More than two million citizens have moved here from other parts of the country. Many of them are from your home states. Many are your relatives and friends.  We call them refugees. If I were a typical Fourth of July orator, I’d tell you what a great contribution they have made to our State—what fine citizens they are—how much we love them. But we since I am out of politics, I’ll be perfectly honest. You can have them back any time you want them.

    Actually we’re glad to have these refugees. We’re working hard to get more people; in fact, every sixteenth child born in the United States is a Texan and Texans are born four times as fast as they die. That’s pretty discouraging to the rest of the country.

    Just remember while you’re in Texas, that of all these eight and one-half million laughing, bragging, hard-working, God-Fearing Texans with their feet on the ground and their heads in the sky, 9,500 are in the penitentiary, 29,000 are under indictment, 19,000 are out on bond, 2,500 are in jail and the rest have been assessed fines totaling $398,000 already this year. I tell you this because these figured will be popular with your friends back home.

    But I had better get on or you will want me to stop.  My wife and I have four children, two of whom are twin girls. When my wife went to the hospital before they were born, my oldest son, Skippy, kept saying he hoped Mommy had a girl. So I told him, “Son, why don’t you try praying for one?” The first night he prayed for a long time and came in the next day and said “I prayed last night and nothing has happened—I’m not going to pray any more”.  I said, “No, son, go back and try again”. The second night he went back and prayed very, very long and devoutly and he came in the next day to say, “I prayed twice and I’m through”. Some time later we went down to the hospital and there was his mother with Marianne in one arm and Suzanne in the other arm. Bursting with pride on the arrival of his twin sisters, I walked across the room, patted him on the head and said, “Son, aren’t you glad you prayed?” He said, “Yes, and ain’t you glad I stopped?”

    Texas is proud and honored to be host to this meeting of the National Federation of Press Women. We are proud of the objectivity and impartiality of the press of Texas. It has made a commendable record and a large part of its success has been due to its women members. We have more than our quota of woman publishers, editors, reporters, correspondents and employees. We have many other papers that men think they run—but that are actually run by women.

    In fact, there is one thing that even our bitterest critics have to admit about Texas. Here, men are men and women are women and I defy you to improve on a situation like that. Or as the old maid said, “Who wants to improve on it? I just want to get in on it”.

    Yes, we are a far-cry from the days of the “sob-sisters”. Women are not only established in the news fraternity but they have been, in a large measure, responsible for our free press that has been a mainstay to our nation.

    Does America need a free, unfettered press? Yes, more than ever before in our history.

    We need a free press—with the talent, curiosity, penetrating vision and the ability to judge character that only women possess guiding it—as long as there are closed doors in public office, public meetings held in secret and public files marked “Confidential”.

    We need it as long as there are antiquated, harmful laws on the statute books, remaining there only because they suit somebody’s political or financial convenience and as long as there are loopholes in the law, left there by lawyer-legislators for the benefit of their private practice.

    We need a free press as long as we have officeholders who refuse to forsake hypocrisy and put in its place fundamental honesty; as long as we have an officeholder who lets constitutional government die of cold feet because he is afraid to get into hot water or who is so concerned with the left and right that he forgets the above and below;

    We need it as long as we have American citizens who do not have the ability or desire to separate the false from the true, the important from the unimportant—citizens who cannot see through the subterfuges of demagogues and quacks in high places;

    As long as we live under big, bloated governments feeding on the lassitude of a citizenry that wants everybody to have a benefit at everybody else’s expense; as long as this nation is trying to live high on money borrowed from our children’s unborn children; as long as we have judges who cannot or will not lay aside their politics when they put on their judicial robes;

    And as long as there is one little face prematurely bruised by the hard knocks from which irresponsible parents were unwilling to shield it, one child deprived of health, learning, love, sympathy and spiritual guidance or one young American denied the chance to rise to whatever heights God will lead him and by his strength to strengthen others—there is plenty of work for a free press.

    Yes, unless there are lights along the way—cast there by a free press—freedom dies.

    Because freedom is old, not young; yet it is born anew in the first cry of a free man’s son;
    It is not a living thing, yet it dies if we do not love it;
    It is not weak, but strong; yet it must be defended;
    It is light, yet it weighs heavy on him who is without it;
    It is without price, yet it dearly costs the one who sells it;
    It is not small, but great; yet once lost, it is never, never found again.
    Yes, to be born free is an accident;
    To live free is a responsibility
    But to die free is an obligation.

    [Note: The views expressed in this speech were those of John Ben Shepperd, and do not necessarily represent the views of the John Ben Shepperd Public Leadership Institute or the University of Texas Permian Basin.]

  35. John Ben Shepperd: First Model Library of Criminology in the State of Texas

    Leave a Comment

    September 23, 1957

    First Model Library of Criminology in the State of Texas (Abilene, Texas)

     

    When prehistoric man first conceived the idea of law enforcement, the process was not complicated. Those who performed this function did not need to know about the law of evidence, the psychological processes of criminals, or the use of the polygraph. They did not worry about their public relations. They didn’t have to. All this primitive law enforcement agent needed to know was that his club was bigger than that of his opponent, and that he could swing it harder than his opponent could.

    Since that time, however, our demands for ability in those who enforce the law have become as elaborate as one of Einstein’s mathematical formulas. Our modern law enforcement official may be called upon for knowledge of everything from handling explosives to identification of jewelry—from court room demeanor to chemical tests for intoxication—from medico-legal autopsy to psychiatric motivations of juvenile offenders.

    He needs to be part lawyer, part social scientist, part psychiatrist, part laboratory technician, and part Sherlock Holmes.

    This is not an academic demand we make on the profession—it is an everyday demand which is continually growing.

    Many people will never experience a burglary, a race riot, or other situation involving violence. But if during their lives such an emergency arises, there will be an urgent cry for instantaneous and efficient help from law enforcement agencies. These are the people who furnish us our property “assurance” and perhaps our life “assurance”.

    Where do we get the kind of people who are qualified to give us this service? Even a recruit who is willing to learn is hard to come by. Dallas, for example, has been under-strength of some time, and a recent recruiting campaign in an area of unemployment in Texas was totally unsuccessful.

    Fortunately, however, a few people are willing to make law enforcement their life’s work—willing to learn and willing to accept the responsibility and sacrifice. These are the people who need our help before they can help us. They need a system by which they can acquire the complicated skills and comprehensive knowledge necessary to deal effectively with those who understand no law, only superior strength and intelligence.

    How is the law enforcement official to acquire this status? First of all, he may acquire it through a lifetime of experience, a slow and expensive process. He may also attend some of the few training schools in Texas—if and when he can get away from his job, and if he can afford it.

    The Foundation is working to bring about more training schools on a regional basis as well as a four-year college course in criminology. The Department of Public Safety frequently offers excellent courses, and the Institute of Law Enforcement in Dallas offers bright promise of making a tremendous contribution to law enforcement in this state. However, training afforded by all of these falls far, far below the demand.

    Such schools are invaluable and will be increased, but they can touch only a small minority of those who have already chosen law enforcement as an occupation and who are sadly in need of further training. Added to this spotty picture of law enforcement training is the fact that for certain specialized training it is still necessary to travel as far as 800 miles out of the state. In short, training schools are of extreme importance, but they alone can do only a small part of the job.

    A final method whereby the law enforcement official can learn what he needs to know—or have it available at his fingertips—is through the knowledge and experience of law enforcement accumulated since the beginning of history and boiled down into readable, fact-studied books.

    Thus we have the problem, the solution, and our reason for being here today.

    The importance of this gathering is focused on these facts: this is the first time anyone has thoroughly appreciated the need, arrived at a realistic solution, and put this solution into effect.

    This is the first model criminology library to be established in this manner in Texas. Others will follow, for this is one of the most important projects of the Texas Law Enforcement Foundation. Eventually, carrying out the Foundation theme of citizen support for good law enforcement, the project will be complete with such a library located in every county of the State.

    The library itself is carefully chosen. Each of the 25 volumes has been selected so as to be complete, yet not too technical, for use by the policeman, prosecutor, sheriff, and all other law enforcement personnel.

    The man on the street perhaps would not realize the significance of this occasion. He might understand it better upon getting an ineffective response from his law enforcement agencies to his call in distress. Then, he might ask himself why he did not get the caliber of aid he needed. And, if he did not kid himself, he might realize that as a citizen he had some responsibility for anticipating his needs and that he had failed in that responsibility. He might appreciate that through his government he had provided for someone to do the job, but had not provided the tools or necessary training.

    Fortunately, the man on the street may never understand this because he may never be placed in the urgent position which would prompt him to ask about it. He may not face this situation because of the foresight of others who helped solve his problem in advance.

    This man on the street may never have occasion to thank those who anticipated his need and provided a method whereby his help came a little quicker, a little surer, and with a little more professional ability and competence.

    So it is entirely appropriate that on behalf of the man on the street as well as our own behalf we are here today to express thanks to those who are responsible . . . Texas Law Enforcement Foundation Directors of Abilene . . . J. E. Connally, Morgan Jones, Jr., and French Robertson.

    At this time, I would like to call upon Chief of Police, Warren Dodson, for the presentation.

    Chief Dodson, on behalf of the Texas Law Enforcement Foundation and its local directors, I am placing this first Model Criminology Library in the State of Texas in your custody to be kept at an appropriate location in Abilene so that it will be available for the maximum intended use.

    [Note: The views expressed in this speech were those of John Ben Shepperd, and do not necessarily represent the views of the John Ben Shepperd Public Leadership Institute or the University of Texas Permian Basin.]

  36. John Ben Shepperd: Eastern New Mexico and South Plains Peace Officers Association

    Leave a Comment

    April 18, 1957

    Eastern New Mexico and South Plains Peace Officers Association (Lamesa, Texas)

     

    When I received the invitation to talk to you this morning, I began to think of the many improvements, both large and small, that have taken place in the last few years in the area covered by the Easter New Mexico and South Plains Peace Officers Association. I have been very pleased to see a number of law enforcement agencies over the area acquire valuable new equipment and I’m happy that salary schedules have loosened up to some extent.

    Among the less tangible improvements has been a decrease in the number of frivolous habeas corpus petitions that hamper the work of prosecutors and often undo the hard work of peace officers. I have talked to our peace officers on numerous occasions about the necessity of documenting cases more thoroughly be keeping more complete records on arrests, booking procedures, defendants statements and behavior and many other routine things which often make a big difference in whether or not a criminal can sell a judge a bill of goods and go free on the grounds that constitutional rights were violated.

    I’m happy to see, too, that it isn’t as easy as it has been for some misbegotten thug to sit in jail and write a letter on a piece of scratch paper, charging the jailer and the local peace officers with mistreatment and violation of his civil rights and thereby to precipitate a federal investigation of local officers.

    Several months ago an irresponsible prisoner was convicted in a Federal court in Dallas for making false statements to the F.B.I. about his alleged mistreatment by local peace officers and it is a welcome innovation. It should serve to deter a lot of crooks in the future and it certainly serves as an encouragement to local law enforcement officers that their integrity is not going to be repeatedly aspersed, as it has been in the past, by federal investigations of every frivolous complaint filed by a troublemaker.

    Peace officers are grateful to the F.B.I. for following through on this case and letting the blame fall where it actually lay. We are grateful also to the United States District Attorney for prosecuting the case. Such cases are important to States’ Rights and I presume that this conviction may be taken as an assurance that the F.B.I. in the future will continue to follow every case to its conclusion, out of fairness to state and local officers who are so often wrongly charged.

    We ought to keep in mind that F.B.I. is not the policy-maker in such investigations. It merely carries out its orders as a part of the Department of Justice under the Attorney General and the Attorney General is appointed by the President. The policy is made by the Administration in office—although such policies can be carried over temporarily from one Administration to another.

    House Bill 165 that passed the Texas House of Representatives on April 4th might also give us further relief. This Bill among other things makes it a misdemeanor for any person “to make or file a false, misleading or unfounded report to any governmental agency for the purpose of interfering with the operation of such government agency or with the intent to mislead or malign any officer of such agency. . . .” If this Bill passes, it might give us some relief in the State Courts. Yet, in spite of many improvements there is still a back-log of problems confronting law enforcement officials. Our courts are over-crowded. On January 1st of this year we had more than 22,500 criminal cases untried even though peace officers and prosecutors gathered enough evidence in each case for information and indictment.

    There is hardly a prosecutor in the state with enough paid help and it is very discouraging to peace officers to arrest an offender five or six times on separate chargers before an overworked and understaffed D.A. can get him to trial on the first charge.

    We are still hindered by old laws and probably will be until that happy day at the end of the rainbow when our ancient code of criminal procedure is revamped.  Our Penal Code is still preposterously outmoded and hundreds of crimes are committed every year for which nobody can be convicted because of horse-and-buggy technicalities.

    But the greatest problem facing law enforcement today is not crime or the criminal, nor what Shakespeare called the law’s delays, nor even the loopholes and deficiencies in the criminal statutes. Our greatest problem—the great obstacle to good law enforcement in Texas—is the decent, law abiding public. Until we recognize this, the significance of our many operational and technological gains is seriously reduced.

    We may as well face—we have to live with public apathy and misunderstanding. The public cannot possibly understand your problems as well as you do because the public cannot sit in your position, do your job, live on your salary, experience your frustrations, share your personal pride in your organization or know how it feels to be responsible for protecting the lives and property of all the people and treating every citizen with complete impartiality.

    Nor can you blame the public for having, sometimes, only a fuzzy conception of what the law enforcement picture really is. The crime gets a bigger headline than the conviction, because crime is bigger news than punishment. Citizens who obey the law and seldom see the inside of a courtroom are not acutely  aware of the fact that the law is often a stone wall protecting the accused, literally  forcing the prosecutor to look for loopholes that permit prosecution.

    The people have no way of knowing how too-willing criticism of their peace officers almost forces those peace officers to become competitive for public approval instead of being cooperative for the sake of efficiency. Law enforcement agencies are the first to get the blame for any failure, even when they are not at fault. They are trapped in a situation in which the failure to catch a criminal at all is not much worse than letting some other agency get the credit for catching him.

    The big job of law enforcement authorities, therefore, is not merely to catch the thief and the killer, but to capture the public—to win its understanding and support.

    The hardest task, possibly, is to sell law enforcement to a public which wants it but doesn’t want to pay for it. Somehow we must convince the people that public safety is not on sale in the bargain basement. If there is no other way, we must have sheriffs and police chiefs who are not afraid to speak out for larger appropriations, even at the risk of being scolded by city councils and commissioners courts for being noisy.

    You know the old saying:
    He who has a thing to sell
    And goes and whispers in a well
    Is not so apt to get the dollars
    As he who climbs a tree and hollers.

    I am just as aware as you are that the minute a police department or sheriff’s office starts yelling for more money, local officials are likely to get mad and start yelling about inefficiency. But no law enforcement agency can fulfill its duty by meekly accepting whatever the city or county fathers choose to hand out if it isn’t enough. They, like you, are subject to public criticism and are willing to appropriate adequate funds for law enforcement only if they can look back over their shoulders and get a nod of approval from the voters who put them in office. It is up to you and me to prepare the public to give that nod of approval.

    That, of course, is one of the primary objectives of the Texas Law Enforcement Foundation—to enlist the support of the public in getting the things our law enforcement officers need to do their job instead of criticizing, hindering and ignoring them. No sheriff, police chief or other agency head should have to go before an appropriating body and beg for money. They should do it if they have to, but the public ought to do it for them. It’s the public that suffers when syndicated criminals moving across the state lines and in and out of local police jurisdiction with the greatest of ease are able to thumb their noses at law enforcement officers who are compelled, in the figurative sense, to chase them on bicycles, fire at them with pop-guns and communicate with each other by smoke signal.

    But how can you, as peace officers, enlist public support and assistance? How can you help to get good law enforcement bought and paid for by a taxpayer who is already shoveling 33% of his hard-earned income into bloated bureaucracies on the state and federal level, as well as local governments which are prevented by worn-out state laws from spending a tax dollar in an efficient manner?

    Being only human, I’m not prepared to answer so broad a question, but maybe you will allow me a few random suggestions. I won’t bore you with a lot of advice, however, because I remember how my youngest son, Johnny, once summed up a profound truth unconsciously. He was doing his homework and wrote” “Socrates was a Greek philosopher who traveled around giving people good advice.  He was poisoned.”

    Somebody once said that it helps us more to look at one idiot than to listen to a hundred wise men. I’m convinced that the same applies in the realm of public instruction—that it does more good to show the public the real crime picture than to gloss it over in the silly hope that people will support law enforcement because it apparently functions so efficiently. Law enforcement agencies ought to encourage newspapers to run a daily or weekly tally of offenses, arrests, persons killed, amount of money or property stolen and many other things in exactly the same place and at regular intervals.

    For a long time I have been preaching to officeholders on all levels of government that there is no place for secrecy in a Democracy;  no place for closed meetings, executive sessions or confidential files, except in very special circumstances. As the most important of our public institutions, law enforcement is no exception to this rule. The public is not going to give its support to an institution which does not display its record frankly or which is hypersensitive to public criticism. Let the people see the record. If it is a poor one, tell them why. If it is your fault, don’t hesitate to say so. The more honest you are with the public, the more fairly the public will treat you in your efforts to do a job you can be proud of and receive the compensations and credit you deserve.

    It is just as important to be honest with yourself and with each other—to give credit where credit is due. I believe a lot of good could be done in this world if nobody worried about who’s going to get the credit. When all of you work as a team, the whole team and everybody in it will reap the glory, if it is glory you want.

    Bear in mind, too, that the public is more intelligent than they cynics give it credit for and will appreciate its law enforcement officers in proportion to the real quality of their service. Therefore you cannot afford to delude yourselves into thinking you are doing the best you can just because you have a high batting average. During the past two years, Texas grand juries returned 32,700 indictments, 24,265 of which were brought to trial, resulting in 19,420 convictions, the assessment of $219,000 in fines and the imposition of over 60,500 years in prison sentence.

    That is a good batting average indeed, but the people of Texas cannot look at it and determine whether their peace officers and prosecutors are going out after crooks with political connections, racketeers and syndicated criminals or whether they are concentration on the stumble-bums that can always be picked up down in the back streets. From the batting average nobody can tell what methods you are using to enforce the law or whether you are enforcing some laws and ignoring others. Statistics can be used to show a good record or to conceal a bad one. It’s your job to let the public have enough information to enable the people to know the difference. The most tragic thing that could happen in Texas law enforcement furthermore, would be for peace officers to become heartless in their effort to be impartial—or to become indifferent to the problems of individuals in order to reduce human beings to statistics and keep the batting average high.

    The public’s pride and confidence in its law enforcement officers can never be higher than your pride in yourselves and your confidence in the efficiency of your law enforcement team. Self-Respect is the one quality that no man can hide and no man can feign. It is visible or lacking in your every work and action, whether you speak as one man or a team, and the public puts its confidence in the team that has it.

    The most important thing you can do for the law enforcement happens to be also the most abstract and often to most difficult. The enforcement of the law cannot be separated from the larger issues of maintaining the integrity of the Constitution under which all our laws are made. This is the concern of every law enforcement official. If I may refer back to the question of habeas corpus petitions, there lies the classic example of how the everyday actions of peace officers and prosecutors on the local level help to preserve states’ rights and constitutional government by establishing the validity and fairness of State Court convictions and preventing Federal Courts from infringing on their jurisdictions in an unjust and unnecessary manner. The manner in which you perform your duty, the methods you use, the attitude you take and the very spirit in which you enforce the law all have direct and traceable influence upon the permanence and stability of the free government under which we live.

    I like to think that the daily acts of devotion, loyalty and bravery of our peace officers are like the bricks that go one by one into an indestructible wall that will protect our way of life in the future so that our children and our children’s children can enjoy it. It would be tragic if we, through neglect or unconcern, became like the little community which maintained an ambulance at the bottom of the cliff instead of building a fence around the top and justified its lassitude by saying “Aren’t we picking up the bodies as fast as they hit the ground?” Only by taking the trouble to do the little things that count, to do them in the right spirit and to do the best we can and stand or fall on our record—only then will we be working toward that promised time when human law will be working toward that promised time when human law with all its imperfections will be supplanted with that Divine Law which needs no enforcement and whose dominion will be forever.

    Law enforcement does indeed have a problem—a problem that only you can solve by doing your dead-level best in the job you have undertaken.  In the words of Walt Mason:

    There’s a man in the world who is never turned down
    Wherever he chances to stray;
    He gets the glad hand in the populous town
    Or out where the farmers make hay;
    He’s greeted with pleasure on deserts of sand
    And deep in the aisles of the woods;
    Wherever he goes there’s a welcoming hand;
    He’s the man who deliver the goods.

    [Note: The views expressed in this speech were those of John Ben Shepperd, and do not necessarily represent the views of the John Ben Shepperd Public Leadership Institute or the University of Texas Permian Basin.]

  37. John Ben Shepperd: Texas Sheriff’s Association

    Leave a Comment

    July 22, 1957

    Texas Sheriff’s Association and Crime Seminar (Houston, Texas)

     

    This is the first time I have had the opportunity of appearing before you as a private citizen and not as a fellow Law Enforcement officer.

    I’m very flattered that you have allowed me to come back and mingle with you socially, now that I’m only an ex Law Enforcement officer. I do miss the old life—the charged atmosphere, the great challenges, the bold decisions, the agonizing reappraisals, the hasty apologies.

    Actually, it’s an advantage to be able to talk to you as an ex Law Enforcement officer because I’ve had time as a private citizen to reexamine all the preaching I did as a public official and I’m happy to say that I have not yet changed my tune or eaten any of my words.

    As a matter of fact, since I left public office I haven’t eaten. I’m convinced that the best reason for entering public service is not the call of the people but the howl of the creditors.

    I used to sit back in my office in Austin, contemplating my election, and thank the Lord for the wisdom of the people. Now I thank Him for the depletion allowance.

    Another nice thing about getting out of public office is that you can mingle with your children without a formal introduction. They soon get accustomed to see you around the house even though they can’t figure out exactly where you fit into the picture.

    It’s good to be able to finish a meal without being interrupted by the telephone and it’s nice to pick up a morning paper and enjoy the latest calamity in the state government along with your coffee without having to dictate a statement denying everything that’s happened in the last 24 hours.

    There’s not much change in the number of phone calls you get in the middle of the night. When you’re in office, it’s usually a “cussin’ call” from somebody you’re trying to put in jail and after you leave office, it’s generally a friend who wants you to get him out.

    But I guess the best thing about being a civilian again is getting away from disgruntled constituents. In Austin all the state officials are issued license plates on which they number is preceded by the letters “SO”, standing for state official. I just presumed it was a disgruntled constituent with a paint brush who added a large “B” on mine.

    There are other definite advantages to quiet civilian life. In the state capital you’re just another official, but in a small city in West Texas, you’re a big shot. I used to walk down the street in Austin and people would say, “There’s that little squirt”. Now I walk down the street in Odessa and people say, “There’s that big drip”.

    In any event I understand and appreciate your problems. This business of being a sheriff is not an easy one. A sheriff has to have the eye of an Indian Scout so he can follow the trail of public opinion, avoid being ambushed along the way and cover his tracks.

    His life is never an easy one.  If he doesn’t make an arrest, he’s derelict in his duty and if he does, he’s just doing it to get public attention. In the event the case is lost, he’s a bad sheriff and if it’s won, it’s because he has good deputies and an easy court.

    He has to stand on his own record while his opponent is jumping on it and if he doesn’t brag about his record, people think he got into office through pull and then stopped pulling. If he stays in hot water, he’s accused of being a hot-head and if he doesn’t, he’s got cold feet.

    He works under more pressure than a deep-sea diver and takes more criticism than a poor man with an ambitious mother-in-law. He suffers greater temptations than a shoplifter in Fort Knox and he’s expected to be everywhere at once with his eyes open, like a chaperone at a Senior Prom on a warm spring night.

    Despite the fact that you now have four years terms, election time is almost here again and the usual tension and high feeling are building up. This isn’t because there are two sides to every question but because there are two sides to every office—inside and outside. When you have a situation like that, there’s no problem too small to be turned in to a crisis. A crisis, by the way, is something you create to justify your next move or that somebody else created to justify your removal. Politicians, particularly those out of office, are finding things that haven’t even been stolen and spotting crimes that haven’t even been committed.

    There’s no doubt about it, politics keeps you on your toes. Otherwise, you’d be caught flat-footed.

    I am afraid we are going to be caught flat-footed in another respect too as a result of a series of far reaching cases by the United States Supreme Court. This Court has been snapping up powers from state and local enforcement officials with reckless abandon. It has superimposed its own political theory over our Constitutional law and unless something is done, state and county lines will soon be erased.

    In the Jencks case the Supreme Court held that files of the F.B.I. must be opened to fishing expeditions by defense lawyers in criminal cases. I need not remind you of the serious effect an extension of this doctrine to the procedures of state courts would have upon your job as sheriffs. It would dry up your sources of information; it would change your methods of investigation of cases; it would give defendants a decided advantage over the state in the trial of cases—this in the face of an almost insurmountable wall that you have to climb in order to get a conviction in Texas now.

    In the Mallory case the Supreme Court set free a convicted rapist by invalidating his conviction on the ground that there was “unnecessary delay in arraigning him after his arrest”. The decision in this case places an almost impossible handicap upon Law Enforcement by making it doubtful if you can even question a criminal suspect.

    In the field of Communism we find that through a series of cases, not only state but federal controls of Communism and subversive activities have been erased from the law. Communism is now a political theory and its doctrine of forceable [sic] overthrow of our government can now be taught and advocated just as long as those so teaching or advocating do not take part in the forceable [sic] overthrow of our government or directly incite others to do so. It does not take a fertile imagination to see the nefarious doctrine of these cases extended to the point of permitting the operation of a school or the open advocacy of teaching citizens to become dope addicts, burglars, rapists, murderers or what have you.

    There is no doubt but these decisions have done a great deal to destroy the confidence of our people in Law Enforcement and recent decisions of our own Texas Court of Criminal Appeals in the Duval, Veterans Land and other cases have done even more to break down the respect of the layman for the law and for Law Enforcement generally.

    Of course our best defense against a lamentable situation of this sort is an offense—the offense of doing our duty, performing the job we have before us, seeing that the rights of all people are protected in our state and local courts and resisting, through every official and personal action, federal encroachment into the business of local Law Enforcement.

    We should resolve ourselves that the new system of probation and parole set up by the last session of our Legislature will work and that we are going to do all within our power to make it work. This must also be true of the other new laws dealing with Law Enforcement passed by the recent Legislature.

    We must work with our prosecutors to clear up over-crowded dockets—on January 1 of this year there were more than 22,500 criminal cases untried even though peace officers and prosecutors had gathered enough evidence in each case for information and indictment. There is hardly a prosecutor in the state with enough paid help and it is very discouraging to sheriffs to arrest an offender five or six times on separate charges before an overworked and understaffed District Attorney can get him to trial on the first charge.

    We are still hindered by old laws and possibly will be until that happy day at the end of the rainbow when our ancient code of criminal procedure is revamped. Our Penal Code is preposterously outmoded and hundreds of crimes are committed every year for which nobody can be convicted because of horse and buggy technicalities.

    On top of all these things, the greatest obstacle to good Law Enforcement in Texas is the decent, law-abiding public.

    The public cannot possibly understand your problems as well as you do because the public cannot sit in your position, do your job, live on your salary, experience your frustrations, share your personal pride in your organization or know how it feels to be responsible for protecting the lives and property of all the people and treating every citizen with complete impartiality.

    Nor can you blame the public for having sometimes only a fuzzy conception of what the Law Enforcement picture really is. The crime gets a bigger headline than the conviction because crime is bigger news than punishment. Citizens who obey the law and seldom see the inside of a courtroom are not acutely aware of the fact that the law is often a stone wall protecting the  accused, literally forcing the prosecutor to look for loopholes that permit prosecution.

    The people have no way of knowing how too-willing criticism of their peace officers almost forces those peace officers to become competitive for public approval instead of being cooperative for the sake of efficiency. Law Enforcement agencies are the first to get the blame for any failure even when they are not at fault. They are trapped in a situation in which the failure to catch a criminal at all is not much worse than letting some other agency get the credit for catching him.

    The big job of Law Enforcement authorities, therefore, is not merely to catch the thief and the killer, but to capture the public—to win its understanding and support.

    That is the job that the Texas Law Enforcement Foundation is dedicated to helping you remedy. The primary purpose of TLEF is to make citizens of Texas aware of their part in Law Enforcement—to help them understand the law, gain public support and cooperation for Law Enforcement officials, keep competent, courageous men in the Law Enforcement jobs, help them receive a living wage, furnish them the tools of their profession and assist in the training of Law Enforcement officers dedicated to do their duty.

    It is not the purpose of TLEF to criticize, supervise or prod the men who enforce the law. Our purpose is to help, not hinder, not harass.

    Ninety prominent businessmen now comprise the Board of Directors of this organization and within its framework, peace officers work shoulder to shoulder with doctors, lawyers, bankers, oil men, ranchers and citizens of all walks of life. Their actions are constructive and positive; their aims are ambitious; their horizons are unlimited. The Foundation’s idea is simple but revolutionary and its potentialities are beyond the imagination.

    A remarkable fact about this growing Texas organization is that instead of asking for government help, its primary purpose is to help government. This is the way Americans help to meet the  needs of modern society without increasing taxation, extending governmental authority over their lives or expecting agencies and bureaus to accomplish form them what ought to be accomplished with the heads, hearts and hands of the people. There is an example here for the citizens of all America and a warning for all who live by crime. And in that example and warning, there is also a prayer that the human misery and suffering wrought by crime might be lessened because citizens’ hands are stretched out to each other in cooperation for the common good of all.

    [Note: The views expressed in this speech were those of John Ben Shepperd, and do not necessarily represent the views of the John Ben Shepperd Public Leadership Institute or the University of Texas Permian Basin.]

  38. John Ben Shepperd: The Sign on the Door

    Leave a Comment

    May 28, 1957

    Commencement Exercises of Knox City High School (Knox City, Texas)

    The Sign on the Door

     

    I have frequently observed that on the day of their graduation from high school, seniors don’t know whether they are coming or going. When I graduated, the commencement speaker noticed me in the audience and pausing in his address, he remarked that the flat hats worn by graduating students appear to by symbolic of what lies under them.

    But on this occasion, it is indeed hard to know whether you are coming or going because you have come to one of those doorways in life that are marked with two signs, one saying “Exit” and the other saying “Entrance”. When you cross this threshold, you are both going out and coming in. You are leaving a period of life that you will always look back on with pleasure and happy memories and you are entering a phase of life that you have looked forward to with eagerness.

    Although it is not my purpose or intention to preach a sermon, I’d like to pose a verse of Scripture over this doorway in your career. In the 121st Psalm, Verse 8, we read:

    “The Lord shall preserve thy going
    out and thy coming in, from this
    time forth and forevermore.”

    I hope you will remember this when you are surrounded with the responsibilities of citizenship and locked in the struggle to maintain the freedom that is yours by inheritance.

    There are two kinds of country you could have been born in. You could have lived in a totalitarian country where people are governed by dictators—where everything that isn’t forbidden is compulsory and where the individual is unimportant, having no freedom of choice or of opportunity.

    Or, you can grow up in a country and a state like ours, where we still place a premium on individualism and where we govern ourselves on the premise that every individual ought to be as free and unrestricted as possible. This can only happen when the high schools of our country graduate young men and women of moral character who will govern themselves instead of having to be governed—who will assume the responsibilities of good citizenship.

    Here in the United States, and especially in Texas, we believe in the right of every graduating senior to go out and find a job, a college, a husband or wife, and a place to live, a career to follow, a church to worship in, and a purpose for living, without being told how or where to do it.

    I hope that in your studies of science, mathematics, government, history, English and all the other subjects you have mastered, you have not been given the impression that a head full of facts constitutes an education. I trust you have not been fitted with a pair of rose-colored glasses and led to believe that the world will respect your right to exist and to be free just because you have learned to recite from Wordsworth, take shorthand and work Algebra.

    I am confident that your teachers, your parents, your school administrators, the members of your school board, the Parent-Teacher Association, and the sponsors of your high school clubs and organizations have all worked together to teach you the real facts of life—that it is better to be right than to be rich; better to be fair than be famous; better to be honest than to be exalted; better to be good than be clever; better to be free than be secure; and better to die on your feet than to live on your knees.

    But above all, I hope and trust that you have been taught to stand on your own two feet, like a Texan—to do your own thinking and act on your own convictions. A wise man once said that an educated person is one who can sit in a room, alone, for one hour and not be bored. But I believe a person truly educated in heart, mind and backbone is the one who can worship his own God, cast his own ballot, carry his own load and look for a helping hand at the end of his own arm.

    I could talk for a long time about the wonderful opportunities awaiting you in this growing state of ours, with its new industries, increasing population and growing wealth. I could talk about the good jobs, the chances for advanced education, the prospects of long life, the new frontiers to be conquered, and the unlimited horizons that offer you great challenge and promise you great happiness.

    But I must tell you the truth. Your happiness does not depend on these things. It does not depend on how the world treats you, but on how you treat the world. The only achievements that will bring you respect and love are the things you do for others; the only things you can take with you through life, and beyond it, are the things you have given away.

    And the only way you can remain free is to turn your own government by taking a personal part in it. An educated citizen is not one who can solve great problems by sitting in a swanky office and drifting into the cool stratosphere of abstract thought, but the one who has sense enough to put his hand in God’s hand and pray like a lost sinner while he totes the barges and lifts the bales.

    We need you young people. We need you to build homes in which the family Bible is in as much demand as the family car. We need you in business and the professions, wherever people are less concerned about the dots and dashes in the Constitution than they are about the dollar signs on the ledger.

    But most of all we need you in politics and public affairs, because men are making laws today which attempt to do for us what we ought to do for ourselves—they’re trying to give everybody a benefit at everybody else’s expense; trying to live high on money borrowed from our children’s unborn children; expanding the Federal Government in an effort to erase state lines, nullify state laws, and not only to bring us into subjection to strong, centralized authority contrary to the Constitution, but also to impose upon us a national conscience to replace our individual beliefs and principles.

    You probably do not fully understand this yet; but you will, because your generation will have to right the wrongs, or pay the penalties. When the time comes for you to do this, you may not remember my words, but I believe you will remember what you have been taught, what your fathers and forefathers have stood for, and what Texas stands for.

    It is time for you to prepare for your responsibilities, because we need you. We need you at every precinct and county convention, at every political rally, at every meeting of the Commissioners Court, the School Board and the City Council.  We need young people of character in public office on the local, state and national level, where constitutional government is dying of cold feet because public officials are afraid to get in hot water. We need you at the polls, where great principles are suffocated under the weight of the ballots that are never cast and where people are voting their prejudice instead of their principles.

    And don’t think that I am talking to you young men any more than young women. Women are especially equipped for the job of public leadership. Any Home Economics major who learns to can a jar of pickles and hold it up to the light to see if it is leaking air and is going to spoil in a few months can do the same to a politician. A girl who can keep three or four boys on the string at the same time, and make each one think he’s her favorite, would make a good politician herself. If you’ve ever seen a girl wrangling with her father for a new dress, you’ve seen a soft-soaping lobbyist at work; and if you’ve ever seen a teenage girl on the telephone, you’ve seen a filibuster.

    This is a very important occasion for all of you. This is a door though which you will never pass again. Here are your friends, some of whom you may be seeing for the last time. Here are your teachers, whom you cannot appreciate enough and can never repay for giving you a part of themselves to take with you through life. For many of you, this is goodbye.

    But it is also a time for promises. You should pledge to each other that someday when you sit in such a place as this as parents and teachers yourselves, watching your own children graduate, you will have handed them a heritage of freedom un-soiled by lethargy and compromise. You should promise one another that you will keep this country the kind of place where men and women will rise high by staying on the level, and get to the top not by climbing, but by growing—where anyone who is willing to stay on his toes can reach for the stars.

    Someday when you are weighted down with two-fold responsibility of earning a living and preserving the only successful Democracy ever established by man, your lives will seem to be dominated by those two things—gold and government. That is the time when you must remember that the truly good things of life have to be lived for—they cannot be voted into existence nor paid for with money.

    Nobody can go down to the bank, open a safe deposit box and file away a title to a Texas sunset or the memory of happy days in high school.  Nobody can lay gold on the counter and buy the bitter-sweet pangs of first live.  Nobody can write a check for the companionship of a true friend, or trade hard cash for the devotion and sacrifices of a kind mother and father, or purchase at any price the love and loyalty of a good wife or husband.

    And in every life there comes a time when all the dazzling wealth of the Universe if not half so precious as the sound of a mother’s lullaby or the laughter of a strong, free man.

    Freedom is old, not young,  yet it is born anew in the first cry of a free man’s son;
    It is not a living thing; yet it dies if we do not love it;
    It is not weak; yet it must be defended;
    It is light, yet it weighs heavy on him who, is without it;
    It is without price, yet it dearly costs the one who sells it;
    It is not small, but great; yet once lost, it is never, never found again.

    May the lord preserve thy going out and thy coming in, from this time forth and forevermore.

    [Note: The views expressed in this speech were those of John Ben Shepperd, and do not necessarily represent the views of the John Ben Shepperd Public Leadership Institute or the University of Texas Permian Basin.]

  39. John Ben Shepperd: Odessa College Commencement 1957

    Leave a Comment

    May 30, 1957

    Odessa College Commencement (Odessa, Texas)

     

    When Dr. Fly called me in January about being with you tonight, I began worrying about my subject. I thought I would talk to about some of things you should have learned here and will need as you go out in life.

    I suppose that on such occasion as this, a man should endeavor to appear as learned as possible by speaking in erudite phrases to convince those who are responsible for his being here that no mistake has been made. But I believe it is too late for my part of the night’s program to be cancelled so I will assume my natural stance and speak in phrases which that immortal Californian, Bret Harts, would probably have included under the heading “Plain language from truthful James”.

    An amazing volume of commentary is available on the subject of education. Like sin, most men are secretly for it. Education, it would seem, is not the same and does not serve the same purposes in all times and places. There was a time when education consisted almost altogether of Latin grammar and Greek mythology. Its main purpose was to elevate the gentleman further above the peasant and to amuse the stuffed shirts of the drawing room. As Richard Steele put it in 1709, “The great end of education is to raise ourselves above the vulgar.” It was the mark of the lace-collared nobleman who sniffled snuff from his fingertips. The genuine scholars of the day referred to this practice of stuffing superficial learning in the heads of noblemen as “casting false pearls before real swine”.

    But as time went on and politics changed the face of society, education began to seep downward toward the common people. In time popular education became an absolute necessity as a stanchion to support that noble impertinent of 1776, the Declaration of Independence. Thomas Jefferson wrote in 1788 that “The tax for education will be only a thousandth party of what we will pay to kings and noble will rise up among us if we leave the people in ignorance.” Thus education for pleasure gave way to education for a purpose and that purpose was to “secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity”. We wanted to know the truth so that the truth could make us free.

    Education is now truly “popular” in the sense of being public. It is a commodity on the market. What is this project that is dispensed from thousands of institutions of higher learning throughout the country? The popular definition would say that education is the training of the mind. That definition may be satisfy the Russian, the Pole or the Hottentot, but it will not do for an American who holds in his hand the reins of his own government.

    Among self-governing people education has to be the training of the whole individual and a whole individual comprises many more things that a mind. Sometimes, looking at college freshmen, it seems that an individual may comprise everything but a mind. Men are not yet fully rational beings; our actions are often motivated by emotional or physiological impulses. A doctor of philosophy is not incapable of a hatchet murder and a psychology professor cannot always explain his impulse to outrun the traffic cop.

    The object of education therefore is wisdom—the wisdom to live happily and govern oneself; it is a question of educating not only the mind, but also the heart and the backbone. What is wisdom, but character? And what is character but good citizenship?

    That is why young Americans must receive more than an educated mind. If any educated mind is not accompanied by an educated soul, it is like a dynamo unharnessed; it will rack itself to pieces.

    Therefore, it is imperative that our colleges educated the whole individual. The common fault of most college and universities today is that while they refuse a sheepskin to the student who cannot write a theme, they graduate a Cum Laude many a mental giant who cannot or will not mark a ballot. While they would never graduate a man or woman who couldn’t spell, they heap diplomas upon people who cannot or will not read an editorial. They flunk the student who cannot understand Chaucer, but pass the one who professes to by mystified by politics.

    But I don’t lay it all on the poor student. The philosopher, George Santaya, said that the great difficulty in education today is to get experience out of ideas. We all know what it means to sit at the feet of a professor full of theory and precept but devoid of example. Many a student who doesn’t care for Spencerian poetry is ejected from the classroom, yet there are thousands of university professors in the nation who recoil at all thought of participation in public affairs.

    I know from personal observation and experience that in many colleges and universities there is a pervading attitude of contempt for all things public and ”plebeian”, fostered by the pseudo-intellectualism of professors who sit in the ivory tower and deplore the bad grammar and ape-like antics of politicians and businessmen. But how long will freedom tarry in the halls of learning if our most learned citizens let it die of intellectual aloofness and scorn?  How long will we be free if our educated people sit reading books while tyrants forge their chains?

    I am proudly conscious of the fact that I am addressing these remarks to a college to which they are not applicable. Odessa College has never been guilty of intellectual snobbery or failure to look to the education of the entire personality. This institution has a broader curriculum and finer faculty than many of our four year colleges. It is located in a progressive, wealthy community that believes in doing everything possible to make its educational system second to none.

    Odessa College is fortunate to be headed by so able an administrator and so capable a scholar as Dr. Murray Fly.

    Even though the faculty and student of Odessa College, through research and projective education, are constantly pushing beyond the limits of present knowledge, the college is also dedicated to answering the more urgent educational need of the day—that need, said Supreme Court Chief Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, “is not investigation of the obscure, but education in the obvious”.

    No man, though he has pushed outward to the obscure limits of science, can call himself educated if he cannot recite, without faltering, his obvious rights granted under the Constitution of the United States. No man, though he may have five degrees, can call himself better educated than the most ignorant of his countrymen if he cannot cast a better ballot, give better counsel to his congressman, make better laws, dispense better justice from a jury box and elect a better president. Show me a country in which the cream of the ivied hall does not gravitate to the city hall and I’ll show you a nation that is on its way out.

    Thomas Mann, in his Ten Commandments for Educators, says that we must avoid the idea that a college degree by itself mean anything. And I am reminded that a college graduate, decked out on Commencement Day in gown and mortar board, has his body robed with dignity, but topped with a flat head.

    But with all due respect to Thomas Mann, I believe that a degree from Odessa College does mean something. It means that there is still at least one spire of learning that points upward to God . . . at least one spire in whose shadow men and women still seek the knowledge for which no diploma is offered . . . where no sham or pretense would say that learning can stand alone, but where the threads of knowledge are woven, without seam, into the moral fiber of the man and woman—where the commencement robe is a seamless garment that clothes the whole individual, not for an hour, but for life.

    For happy is the man that findeth wisdom and the man that getteth understanding; she is more precious than rubies . . . her ways are ways of pleasantness and all her paths are peace.

    [Note: The views expressed in this speech were those of John Ben Shepperd, and do not necessarily represent the views of the John Ben Shepperd Public Leadership Institute or the University of Texas Permian Basin.]

  40. John Ben Shepperd: The Sin of Silence

    Leave a Comment

    August 21, 1957

    Sul Ross State College Summer Commencement (Alpine, Texas)

    The Sin of Silence

     

    I suppose that on such occasion as this, the Commencement speaker should make every effort to recall all of the learning that he was once exposed to under similar circumstances in order to show the graduates and the onlooking faculty that he is at least as clever, if not as learned, as those to whom he presumes to give advice.

    But on looking back, I find that in the intervening years the professors have altered the facts of life and what was once called learning is now disproven theory. I hesitate to expose my accumulation of it to a body of men and women who have just finished acquiring better and more recent theory.

    I used the word “theory” advisedly. What you have learned here is still theory to you until you have applied it and found out whether it is really true. Furthermore, all higher learning is inclined to by hypothetical. For example, I’m sure most of you have studied economics and since about 70% of you are either in the teaching profession or will be, you must have observed with interest that anything a college professor says about money is almost certain to be theoretical. It has to be with the salaries the state pays them.

    I understand that 60% of this graduating class is taking the Master’s Degree. What does it mean to receive an M.A.? Most educators agree that it means at least one thing—that the holder of the M.A. has mastered the first and thirteenth letters of the alphabet.

    But one of the most learned men of modern letters, Thomas Nann, says in his Ten Commandments for Educators that we must avoid the idea that a college degree, by itself, means anything at all. And indeed, I have noticed that a college graduate, decked out on Commencement Day in his gown and mortar board, has his body robed with dignity but topped with a flat head.

    It is not without reason that I stand here making light of education as if it were over-rated. Actually, very few things in the world are more important. But I am sure Sul Ross College would not want anyone graduated from its hall under the misapprehension that the time you have spent in college was intended to give you learning. On the contrary, its purpose was to discipline your minds and to show you the means by which learning is acquired.

    Just as the Constitution of the United States guarantees to every citizen the right to pursue happiness, but cannot guarantee happiness itself, a college degree is a guarantee that you have been equipped to become educated by your own future diligence. As someone has said, “it’s all right for a person to get a college education if he doesn’t mind learning a little something afterwards.”

    The purpose of education is not to help you earn a living, but to teach you what to do with a living after you earn it. Is it enough that we should use our brains to keep our stomachs full? Or to provide ourselves a softer couch to lie on? Or to purchase luxury? Or to buy entertainment in order to escape the burden of thought? If there is no higher purpose for education, it is not only worthless, it is a curse to those who have it.

    The was a time in the not-so-distant past when our fathers chose to lay down their living, and not their living only, but their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor, to gain liberty. The highest purpose of education, among free men, is to preserve freedom. As Thomas Jefferson said, “The tax for education will be only a thousandth part of what we will pay to kings and nobles who will rise up among us if we leave the people in ignorance.” To Thomas Jefferson, the purpose of education was “to secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity”.

    Sometimes I wonder whether our fathers would have spoken so proudly of their posterity if they had known that we were going to be it. We have departed from their ways. By some perverse evolution, many of the fundamentals which they wrote into the Constitution even before their Revolutionary wounds had stopped aching have become distorted beyond recognition.

    We are not as free as our fathers were, nor as free as they intended we should be. And the cause of this is not that we are more populous or crowded, or that our society is more complex, or that we are circumscribed by a greater number of necessary laws. I will admit that the body of law which surrounds us constitutes a considerable restriction. Nowadays everything that isn’t compulsory is forbidden. It has been proposed that Congress and the State Legislatures should confine their efforts to passing laws telling us what we can do instead of what we can’t.

    But the reason that we are less free than our fathers is that we are less independent. And because we are less independent, we want the federal government to reach down the long arm of patronage. But what it patronizes it must also control so it takes our small liberties and our privileges away.

    It becomes an entity separate from the people and beings to do our thinking for us. Every little desire of our hearts it endeavors to provide. The pursuit of happiness is not enough for it to guarantee; it wants to make us happy. It is not enough that God created us equal; the government wants to improve upon that creation. It is not enough to guarantee the citizen a fair shake; the government will see to it that every citizen gets the same shake, even if he doesn’t want it.

    And our government—the creation of our own hands, which is our own responsibility—will accomplish these miracles by acting upon certain theories which we actively propagate among ourselves through wishful thinking and the desire to escape responsibility.

    You have heard the expression “double-think”, a process by which political dialecticians convince us that black is white. Consider a few examples of our own double-thinking. Consider them well, for these are the principles upon which our country is largely being governed: the way to establish prosperity is to discourage thrift; the way to help the poor is to destroy the rich; the way to help the wage earner is to tear down the wage payer; the way to make all men free is to make all men just alike; we can keep out of depression by constantly spending more than we earn; we can maintain prosperity by overtaxing the people and shipping the surplus money out of the country; we can build character and courage by taking away man’s initiative and independence and by doing for him all the things he ought to do for himself—the quickest way to divest the population of its initiative is to convince half the people they need not work because the other half will support them and to convinced the other half that work is useless because someone else will reap the fruits of their labor.

    There is nothing wrong, I suppose, with centralized, socialized government as long as it does not undermine the citizen’s character, rob him of his liberties or take away his ability to govern himself. But that is like saying it’s all right to play around with temptation as long as you don’t get embroiled in sin.

    My chief objection to the centralization of government is not the expenditure of money but the destruction of the moral fiber of the people. Big government teaches the working man to spit on his boss instead of his hands. It treats private enterprise like a temporary, necessary evil. It teaches by precept and practice that there is nothing on the moral or spiritual plane that is worth as much as a higher material standard of living. It deludes the citizen into thinking that he can vote for prosperity instead of working for it.

    More than half the 138 students being graduated here have prepared themselves for the teaching professions. Many of you have teaching experience. How will you answer those who come into your classes for learning and guidance when they look searchingly into your face and ask you for truthful answers to these questions: Now that I am in school, who decides what I must learn—my father and mother or a government bureau? When I grow up, will I be allowed to be myself or will I be a number in a government file? When I get sick, whose doctor can I go to, my own or one assigned by the government? When I am able to afford a home, will I be able to build one as good as I can make it or will it be a government-built house, worth only part of what the government taxed me for housing? And when I go to work, may I choose my own job or will I have to get a work permit from the government and take what they give me? If I have criticized the government, will they even give me a work permit?

    Perhaps you think these questions are farfetched. Something out of a book on Communism, you say. Then let me give you some questions that even now are being asked, or should be asked, in every classroom.

    Is it still true that a man can pick his own job or occupation and work in it wherever he wants to? No. This is a theory we teach our children but it is now disproven. Under federal law a man may be compelled to join a private organization—a labor union—and to support its political ideologies and social actions and contribute to its treasury in order to obtain or keep his job. State laws to the contrary—the so-called-right-to-work laws—are being struck down by the courts and men are no longer free to work or not to work, to join or not to join.

    Is the freedom of the press still sacred? Is the right of the people to know the truth still involated? This, too, is a theory. Even now, under the ludicrous title of “Civil Rights”, a bill pending in Congress would imprison any newspaper reporter who publishes or reveals information about what goes on behind the closed doors of federal agencies dealing with the administration of the civil rights law. The right of the people to know what goes on in their government has been violated for years by closed doors, executive sessions and classified information.

    If I had a thousand hands and counted on each finger, I could use them all to enumerate the federal laws and court decrees of the last decade alone which blow the bottom right out of the Constitution of the United States. And every one of them is a foundation on which worse evils are built.

    But I know of no evil half so deadly as that which, at the present time, takes one-third of the average citizen’s income and spreads it around at home and abroad with such reckless abandon that our federal government now spends more money than all of our state and local governments put together. Already, from the purely economic standpoint, the United States government is out-socializing the most completely socialized economies in the world. As a matter of fact, it is supporting most them with forty-cent dollars. Our money is so inflated that telling a woman she looks like a million dollars is no longer a compliment.

    And how is this possible? Americans, historically, have been the most antagonistic of all people toward the philosophy of high taxation. It is primarily an abdication of personal responsibility—wanting the government to do everything for us which our fathers did for themselves. Americans want to grow nothing but cotton and wear nothing but silk. We have mastered the art of being prosperous though broke and safe though insecure.

    But there is a more present, more acute reason for the spiral of taxation and inflation which today is wiping out the collected savings of millions by eating up the value of the dollar faster than it collects interest. That reason is fear—fear of many things. Fear of old age, insecurity, failure, social inferiority, sickness and many other facts of life. But most of all and most reprehensible of all, we are afraid of Communism.

    The fear of Communism is making cowards of us all and for fear of the Kremlin we are spending ourselves into bankruptcy, just as Lenin predicted in 1920. For fear of Communism we are still trying to buy friendship around the world and failing more dismally year by year, billion by billion. We maintain gigantic bases overseas. Every way we turn, the specter of Communism jumps up to frighten us into pouring more money into the federal treasury.

    We are fretfully conscious of what the Communists will say about us if we don’t do this or that. Our every move, domestic or foreign, is calculated on the basis of whether the Communists will make propaganda hay out of it. For fear of Communism we are destroying the Constitution. The government feels that it has to out-socialize the master socialists, otherwise the other countries of the world will not like us. The danger of Communism is only this—that it forces who fear it to imitate it.

    It is time for Americans to utter a new Declaration of Independence. It is time for each of us to stand up and say, “I am not afraid of Communism. And for fear of Communism I will not lay down my basic American freedoms, nor will I suffer my fellow countrymen to be abused by hysterical politicians and bureaucrats, nor will I taxed into oblivion, nor will I be smothered to death with the kisses of the welfare state. I will not allow my country’s domestic affairs to be governed by considerations of what Communist propagandists may say about it. I will not permit my country to be made a fool in the embassies of the world for fear that other countries without honor or pride may consort with Communists if we do not buy them off. The pirates of Tripoli were men of better caliber. Billions for defense, if necessary, but not one cent for tribute to Communism.

    My intention is not to mar this occasion with gloom, but rather to stir you with a challenge—to show you who are teachers that there is something for you to teach which will not be found in a textbook—to show all of you that education must have purpose above and beyond the material benefits it can bring to its possessor. If I do not say these things and if you do not, in good conscience, make the safety of your country the primary object of your teaching skill or your actions as a citizen—then you and I alike are guilty of the sin of silence at a time when silence is unforgivable.

    He was a great geographer who said the world’s most unemployed region is just north of the ears. It is a common fault of human beings to avoid thinking. But you are trained to think. And does your thinking not tell you that even now, as in the 1770’s and the 1860’s, our country needs a new Bill of Rights and a new birth of freedom. Are these the “blessings of liberty” that you will secure to yourselves and your posterity—taxes, inflation, socialism and fear? Will you leave your children the national debt? Will they enjoy paying for the good times we’ve had?

    And who will teach our children and our children’s children what it means to be free? How will they taste of freedom if they do not know of responsibility and self-reliance? And how will they know of it unless you, their fathers, mothers and teachers, tell them and show them?

    I’ll tell you what kind of graduates we need pouring out of our institutions of higher learning.  We need crazy, mixed-up students who get everything backwards under present-day thinking and have their own kind of double-thinking—who think personal happiness depends not on how the world treats you, but on how you treat the world, who know the only thing you can take out of this world is what you have given to others and who believe the only way to rise in the world is to keep your feet on the ground and stay on the level.

    We need graduates with a bad sense of proportion, who think there is no job too big for them and there is no job of citizenship so small that they are too big for it. We need superstitious young people who believe in luck and who know the harder you work the more of it you have. We need weak, helpless graduates who have to depend on God for help and who have learned than an ounce of sweat carries more weight with God than a bucket of tears.

    How shall we teach our children that freedom is as mortal as man? Is it enough to show them Bunker Hill or the Alamo and say, “This is where men died and freedom was born?” Isn’t it better to show them where freedom dies?

    Freedom dies in the path over which men and women no longer walk to the polls. It perishes on the courthouse lawn where they no longer congregate to hear a man in shirt sleeves campaign for public office. It withers on the steps of the schoolhouse where the feet of fathers and mothers never tread.

    Freedom dies in church pews that are never filled and in homes where half the family is standing around waiting for the other half to get back with the car—or where mom and dad have sent the kids out for the evening so they can have the house to themselves. Freedom dies wherever people are looking for reward without effort, life without pain, happiness without pursuit and a helping hand at the end of somebody else’s arm.

    Some of you are teachers and some of you are not. All of you will have unlimited opportunity to teach or to demonstrate the truth about freedom. Do not be guilty of the sin of silence. Do not apologize for teaching or speaking the old-fashioned, unsophisticated, homely truths which today’s world is trying hard to ignore. Do not be ashamed to assert that it is better to be right than be rich . . . better to be fair than be famous . . . better to be good than be clever . . . better to be honest than be exalted . . . better to be free than be secure . . . better to run your government than to beg from it . . . better to die on your feet then live on your knees.

    If you do these things, your reward will not be great by the world’s standards. All you will have is the comfortable realization that you have done all you can to build your community, state and nation. You can say with solemn pride that while others stayed in the background, you came forward and threw down the gauntlet to all the problems and injustices that hung over your countrymen. You can say that while others followed the crowd, you followed your conscience and that you were working to keep every dot and dash in the Constitution while others were slaving to get dollar signs on the ledger and feathers in their caps.

    No, you won’t get much of a reward. All you will get is freedom. You’ll get the kind of country where every mother’s son is a future president . . . where men and women are free to work and enjoy the fruits of their labor . . . where opportunity is unlimited and the size of a man is not measured from his feet to his head, but from his head to the sky . . . where men and women can walk with their heads up, take off a hat to nobody and serve their own God.

    It is a terrible and dangerous thing to use an education—or a government—for no better purpose than to fill our stomachs and enrich our pocketbooks. We cannot buy the blessings of liberty, nor can we vote them into existence. No one can open up a safety deposit box and file away a title to a Texas sunset. Nobody can lay gold on the counter and buy the look of trust and innocence in a child’s eyes. No man can trade a ballot or a negotiable check for the companionship of a true friend, for the bitter-sweet pangs of first love, for the satisfaction of personal accomplishment at the labor of his choice or for the love and devotion of a faithful wife. And all the money in all the treasuries of the world will not purchase the sound of a mother’s lullaby or the laughter of a free man.

    Are you really educated? If you have all the knowledge in the books, and have pushed outward to the obscure limits of science, and have mastered languages and equations and philosophies, you are still hopelessly ignorant unless you have also learned that:

    Freedom is old, not young, yet it is born anew in the first cry of a free man’s son;
    It is not a living thing, yet it dies if we do not love it;
    It is not weak, but strong; yet it must be defended;
    It is light, yet it weighs heavy on him who is without it;
    It is without price, yet it dearly costs the one who sells it;
    It is not small, but great; yet once lost, it is never, never found again.
    Yes, to be born free is an accident;
    To live free is a responsibility;
    But to die free is an obligation.

    [Note: The views expressed in this speech were those of John Ben Shepperd, and do not necessarily represent the views of the John Ben Shepperd Public Leadership Institute or the University of Texas Permian Basin.]

  41. John Ben Shepperd: Rapid City Chamber of Commerce

    Leave a Comment

    October 24, 1957

    Chamber of Commerce Annual Banquet (Rapid City, South Dakota)

     

    This afternoon I stood once again and viewed with overflowing heart that gratifying scene at the National Shrine of Democracy. As I studied the faces of Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt and Lincoln, my mind went back to their day in history, their contribution to the American way of life, and to the many things which they said and did in admonishing their posterity to preserve the fundamentals of freedom.

    Sometimes I wonder whether they and your fathers would have spoken so proudly of their posterity if they had known that we were going to be it. We have departed from their ways. By some perverse evolution, many of the fundamentals which they wrote into the Constitution, even before their revolutionary wounds had stopped aching, have become distorted beyond recognition.

    We are not as free as our fathers were, nor as free as they intended we should be. And the cause of this is not that we are more populous or crowded, or that our society is more complex, or that we are circumscribed by a greater number of necessary laws. I will admit that the body of law which surrounds us constitutes a considerable restriction. Nowadays everything that isn’t compulsory is forbidden. It has been proposed that Congress and the State Legislature should confine their efforts to passing laws telling us what we can do instead of what we can’t.

    But the reason that we are less free than our fathers is that we are less independent. And because we are less independent, we want the Federal Government to reach down the long arm of patronage. But what it patronizes it must also control, so it takes our small liberties and our privileges away. It became an entity separate from the people and begins to do our thinking for us. Every little desire of our hearts it endeavors to provide. The pursuit of happiness is not enough for it to guarantee; it wants to make us happy. It is not enough that God created us equal; the government wants to improve upon that creation. It is not enough to guarantee the citizen a fair shake; the government will see to it that every citizen a fair shake; the government will see to it that every citizen gets the same shake, even if he doesn’t want it.

    And our government—the creation of our hands, which is our own responsibility—will accomplish these miracles by acting upon certain theories which we actively propagate among ourselves through wishful thinking and the desire to escape responsibility.

    You have heard the expression “Double-think”, a process by which political dialecticians convince us that black is white. Consider a few examples of our own double thinking. Consider them well, for these are the principles upon which our country is largely being governed. The way to establish prosperity is to discourage thrift.  The way to help the poor is to destroy the rich. The way to help the wage earner is to tear down the wage payer. The way to make all men free is to make all men just alike. We can keep out of depression by constantly spending more than we earn. We can maintain prosperity by overtaxing the people and shipping the surplus money out of the country. We can build character and courage by taking away man’s initiative and independence. And the quickest way to divest the population of its initiative is to convince half of the people they need not work because the other half will support them; and to convince the other half that work is useless because someone else will reap the fruit of their labor.

    There is nothing wrong, I suppose, with centralized, socialized government as long as it does not undermine the citizen’s character, rob him of his liberties or take away his ability to govern himself. But that is like saying it’s all right to play around with temptation as long as you don’t get embroiled in sin.

    My chief objection to the centralization of government is not the expenditure of money but the destruction of the moral fiber of the people. Big government teaches the working man to spit on his boss instead of his hands. It treats private enterprise like a temporary, necessary evil. It teaches by precept and practice that there is nothing on the moral or spiritual plane that is worthy as much as higher material standard of living. It deludes the citizen into thinking that he can vote for prosperity instead of working for it.

    But I know of no evil half so deadly as that which, at the present time, takes one-third of the average citizen’s income and spreads it around at home and abroad with such reckless abandon that our Federal Government now spends more money than all of our state and local governments put together. Already from the purely economic standpoint, the United States government is out-socializing the most completely socialized economies in the world. As a matter of fact, it is supporting most of them with forty-cent dollars. Our money is so inflated that telling a woman she looks like one million dollars is no longer a compliment.

    And how is this possible? Americans, historically, have been the most antagonistic of all people toward this philosophy of high taxation. It is primarily an abdication of personal responsibility. Americans want to grow nothing but cotton and wear nothing but silk.  We have mastered the art of being prosperous though broke, and safe though insecure.

    But there is a more present, more acute reason for the spiral of taxation and inflation which today is wiping out the collected savings of millions by eating up the value of the dollar faster than it collects interest. That reason is fear – fear of many things. Fear of old age, insecurity, failure, social inferiority, sickness and many other facts of life. But most of all and most reprehensible of all, we are afraid of Communism.

    We are fretfully conscious of what the Communists will say about us if we don’t do this or that. Our every move, domestic or foreign, is calculated on the basis of whether the Communists will make propaganda hay out of it. For fear of Communism, we are destroying the Constitution. The Government feels that it has to be out-socialize the master Socialists, otherwise the other countries of the world will not like us. The danger of Communism is only this – that it forces those who fear it to imitate it.

    It is time for Americans to utter a new Declaration of Independence. It is time for each of us to stand up and say, “I am not afraid of Communism and for fear of Communism, I will not lay down my basic American Freedoms, nor will I suffer my fellow countrymen to be abused by hysterical politicians and bureaucrats, nor will I be taxed into oblivion, nor will I be smothered to death with the kisses of the welfare state. I will not allow my country’s domestic affairs to be governed by considerations of what Communist propagandists may say about it. I will not permit my country to be made a fool in the embassies of the world for fear that other countries without honor or pride may consort with Communists if we do not buy them off.” The pirates of Tripoli were men of better caliber. Billions for defense, if necessary, but not one cent for tribute to Communism.

    But then you say “What have all these things got to do with the Rapid City Chamber of Commerce?” The primary reason is this. If we cannot stop the things that are happening in this country, Rapid City will be given a number and the last thing you will need is a Chamber of Commerce. In America, we must once again rededicate ourselves to the fundamental principles of thinking local and living local. Community leaders must put courage in the local government by serving in offices and executing policies consistent with our basic beliefs. Bankers must give loans to young people who are just getting a start so that they won’t have to turn to the Federal Government.

    Businessmen must use their heads to stimulate local enterprise and thereby keep people from having to depend on the help of a high level of government to develop local resources and finance local improvements. Local governments must cease to be afraid to undertake local projects without a guarantee of Federal aid. We must always keep this fundamental in mind, and that is: When leadership on the local level breaks down, the people are forced into the position of having to vote for prosperity instead of working for it.

    You members of the Rapid City Chamber of Commerce are forced into the leadership of your community by the very nature of your position as business and professional men, executives and members of an organization that speaks out for private enterprise in your city.

    Why should there be such an organization anyway? Why should there be a voice to speak out for private enterprise?

    Private enterprise and constitutional government are as dependent upon each other as the two ends of a seesaw. The big factory, the little shop, the County Courthouse, the City Hall and the Constitution of the United States will all stand or fall together. A silent voice in the ranks of private enterprise is a shout for Socialism or worse. A negative business man is almost as bad as a positive Communist.

    But I’m not talking to you so much as members of the Chamber of Commerce—rather as individual Americans who are able to provide personal leadership consistent with your positions in your community. I’m talking about lending your time, talents and resources to your local government. It is your job to build up attendance at meetings of your local government bodies—to get out the vote—to give the city council the benefit of your advice and experience—to give advertising space to explanations of local issues or to call attention to legal problems—to support your candidates for office after election as well as before, and to serve on civic committees in public office yourself when qualified and when called upon.

    Too many so-called leaders are sitting around waiting for their country’s call in the form of a big dollar-a-year appointment on a presidential committee and ignoring the call of the school board and the P-TA. Too many are willing to lead only with the safe boundaries of non-partisan and non-controversial fields. Too many are unwilling to get mixed up in politics because they think it will hurt business. I feel sorry for this kind—their business is already lost. Show me a man with no identifiable stand on a public issue and I’ll show you a man with no identifiable character, patriotism and business stability.

    By no means would I exclude women. Women are peculiarly equipped for the job of leadership.  Any woman who can keep an eye on the stove, the ironing board, the T.V. set, the Mixmaster and the kids in the yard, and talk to a neighbor on the phone all at the same time, can also keep up with public affairs.  Any woman who knows how to can a jar of pickles and hold it up to the light to see if it’s leaking air and is going to spoil in a few months can do the same to a politician.

    We found out in Texas that a man without a woman is only half of a man, and a government without women is only half a government.  In fact, we have boiled it down to a pretty simple formula—in Texas men are men and women are women, and I defy you to improve on a situation like that. Or as the old maid said, “Who’s trying to improve on it?  I just want to get in on it.”

    What does it take for a man or a woman to be a leader—to get done the kind of things that strengthen local governments and preserve the constitutional rights of the people within their own reach?

    Leadership means doing everything for the good of others, which often means doing it in spite of them. Or it sometimes means you have to be a sponge and absorb a lot of insult and ingratitude.  It means knowing how to face opposition and stiffen your spine instead of arching your back.

    Sometimes it means being stubborn—having a strong will and a stronger won’t. Now and then it means getting mad. The man or woman who never gets mad doesn’t give a hoot. Very often it means standing alone in the belief that you are right and the crowd is wrong. It means being a wet blanket and sacrificing your personal popularity on the altar of self-respect.

    It isn’t easy to be a leader when every issue has two sides, with good people standing on both of them. To be a leader you have to have the courage of David and the patience of Job, and if you make a mistake a dozen critics will stand up and say you’ve got a rock in your head, like Goliath.

    But more than anything, being a leader means doing a lot of little jobs without thought of reward or appreciation. Nobody does great things until he learns to do little things in a great way. When you leave a warm building on a cold day to go and cast a cool ballot in a hot election, you’ve done more than more Americans ever do. When you pack the car full of yelling kids on Sunday morning and drive to church, you’ve preached a great sermon to the neighborhood. But don’t call yourself religious unless you preach a sermon to somebody every day without opening your mouth.

    The crying need of the day is to produce good followers who will grow into good leaders—to create an atmosphere in which every mother’s son is a future president, and the size of a man is not measured from his feet to his head, but from his head to the sky—where men and women don’t get to the top by climbing, but by growing—where statesmen are tall enough to achieve the heights and still have their feet on the ground. We don’t need people who can stand on a platform; we need people who can stand on their own two feet and kneel on their own two knees. We need leaders who can be right and be president too.

    So as we sit here tonight, what is our greatest need in this country?

    We need men and women who follow their conscience and lead the crowd—who will not sacrifice a dot or a dash in the Constitution for a dollar sign on their personal ledger—and who can take the ups and downs of life and never become so concerned with the left and the right that they forget the above and below.

    We need men and women who would rather be right than rich; who’d rather be fair than be famous; who’d rather be honest than exalted; who’d rather be free than be secure; and who’d rather die on their feet than see their fellow Americans living on their knees.

    They say the best things in life are free. And this blessed fact should be a consolation to all of us who have ever stood before the National Shrine of Democracy and felt the winds of time and the rush of events sweeping past the old landmarks of tradition and seeming to write on the face of all our sacred institutions the message “This, too, shall pass away”.

    And as long as we remember what is good in life, no expanse of years can separate us from the ideals of our fore-fathers which transcend time. Their spirit will fill the air wherever men and women are gathered on a public square to hear a man in shirt sleeves campaign for better government. They will be revived in that moment when a busy man or woman stops to read an editorial. They will echo from the walls wherever men and women raise the voice of debate in a precinct convention. They will speak in majestic tones wherever a church organ plays and choir sings, and they will lie firmly at rest under the hearthstone of the family that kneels in prayer.

    For if we have learned anything from history, we have learned this.

    Freedom is old, not young; yet it is born anew in the first cry of a free man’s son;
    It is not weak, yet it must be defended;
    It is not a living thing, yet it dies if we do not love it;
    It is light, but it weighs heaving on him who is without it;
    It is without price, yet it dearly costs the one who sells it;
    It is not small, but great, but once lost never found again.
    Yes, to be born free is an accident;
    To live free is a responsibility;
    But to die free is an obligation.

    [Note: The views expressed in this speech were those of John Ben Shepperd, and do not necessarily represent the views of the John Ben Shepperd Public Leadership Institute or the University of Texas Permian Basin.]

  42. John Ben Shepperd: 1957 Arizona State Bar Convention

    Leave a Comment

    May 24, 1957

     1957 Arizona State Bar Convention

     

    Thank you President Quail for that very flattering and truthful introduction. It’s been a long time since I’ve heard anything I enjoyed so much or agreed with so completely.

    However, Keith probably found himself in the same predicament of the master of ceremonies who had to introduce another obscure character from a small Texas town. He said, “Our next speaker needs no introduction. Even if I told you who he is, you still wouldn’t know him.”

    I, of course, want to say a few word about my native state. I talk about Texas when there is the slightest indication of interest in the subject and frankly, you have indicated the slightest interest in Texas of any group I have ever appeared before. But if I came this far away from God’s country and didn’t talk about Texas, you’d think I had been ex-communicated, or was dead, or running for a national office or an unmitigated fraud. Besides I want to get back in when I go home.

    I think it’s time the truth was told about Texas. Some folks say Texans don’t have a very high regard for the truth, but actually we value it very highly and that’s why we are so economical with it.

    Being from Texas, I guess you want me to do a little bragging. We Texans don’t enjoy this sort of thing as much as you think we do, but it has come to be expected of us and we’re too polite not to fulfill our obligations.

    Actually, when you come right down to it, there aren’t many Texans who brag. As a matter of fact, if all the bragging Texans were laid end to end, it would meet with the unanimous consent of the rest of the country.

    Now that I’m out of politics, I’ll let you in on a secret. There’s one sure way to tell if a Texan is lying. If his mouth is open, he is lying.

    Another serious misconception needs to be cleared up about Texas. It is not true that all Texans are oil rich. In fact, if all the people getting rich on oil in Texas were suddenly taken up into heaven at the last trump—which within itself is an unlikely supposition—the state would still have left two janitors, three sharecroppers and a darn good former Attorney General.

    However, I modestly won’t deny the fact that Texas is the healthiest place in the world. We have to go across state line to get sick. An Arizona lawyer friend of mine advised a client to go to Texas for his health. He bought a ranch there. When he came, he was crippled and had a glass eye. They discovered oil on his ranch and now, he has not only stopped limping but can even see a little out of that glass eye.

    To top this, every sixteenth child born in the United States is a Texan and Texans are born four times as fast as they die which is pretty discouraging to the rest of the country.

    Another discouraging thing to “outsiders” is that Texans live longer too. Texas is so much like heaven, they don’t see the point in moving on. Besides, there’s always the element of doubt as to which they’d go.

    I know it won’t make you any happier to know that each Texan uses sixty-seven and one-half gallons of water per day for the domestic purposes and thank God, we’ve now got it to use. If you ever get that much water in Arizona, you’ll have to thank God and California, but not necessarily in that order.

    I don’t know how much of this gospel you want to hear. For example, I don’t know whether or not you would be interested in knowing that Texans are drilling 25,000 oil wells a year, running 292,000 farms and 11,000 factories, carrying 14 billion dollars in life insurance, keeping 2 and 1/4th billion on deposit in their 985 banks and getting a substantial part of the 500 million embezzled in the U.S. annually—some would have you believe we have been getting all of it.

    If all the money on deposit or in resources in our banks were divided, each Texan would get $2,000. If we lived in California, we’d get $1,750 and in Arizona only $1,100. New York, however, could give us $7,000. But wherever you live, you won’t find anybody giving it away.

    But we have a lot of fun in Texas. We catch 140 million pounds of fish every year, start 1800 forest fires, have about 1 million teeth pulled, pay 2 and ½ billion dollars in federal taxes and seriously injure a farm resident every half minute.

    We manage to stay pretty busy too.  We’re running about 70,000 corporations and 121,000 business establishments, including 154 independent shoe-shine parlors, 58 Turkish baths, 20 detective agencies, 31 diaper services and an unknown number of uranium sitting ditches.  On top of that we send more than 3,000 dogs’ heads to the State Health Department every year to be examined for rabies, indict some 15,000 fellow citizens, commit about 350,000 major and minor crimes, pluck more than 8 and ½ million Yankee tourists and pick about 4 million bales of cotton. It’s easier to pick a tourist then to pick cotton. More fun too.  I’ve tried both and I know. As a matter of fact, Texas is beginning to give Arizona some competition in the field of tourist plucking.

    They call Texas the land of the big rich and I guess they’re right.  If all the minerals, crops and livestock in a given year were divided up among us, we’d each get 7/8’s of a cow, 1/4 of a hog, 4 pounds of pecans, 104 barrels of oil and 1/80 of a jackass.

    The stork is making more stops in Texas than he used to—may be too wet to fly over—he’s making about 120 stops out of every possible 1,000 eligible homes and of course, a few that ain’t eligible.

    One-third of all our women over 14 are working nowadays, 10,000 of them in the state government, and they make up 36% of all the automobile drivers in the state. It seems more than that when you get on the highway.  Of those 1,388,000 women drivers, 118 are old ladies 85 years of age.  But if you think that’s something, 249 women have drivers licenses listed their ages as “over 85” and I can tell you from observation, that’s also their driving speed.

    The average married woman nowadays is three years younger than her husband and lives six years longer, so the average widowhood is nine years. There are about 150,000 bachelors in Texas and twice as many widows. All of which means that if you or I were a woman over 85 and head that kind of competition, we’d move pretty fast too.

    To boil this factual report on Texas down to a simple formula—in Texas, men are men and women are women and I defy you to improve on a situation like that! Or as the old maid said, “Who’s trying to improve on it, I just want to get in on it.”

    But let’s talk about Arizona. I honestly used to think it was too far away from Texas to amount to very much.

    I have been amazed at the number of former Texans who are living in Arizona. A good portion of this crowd has eased up to me and told me that they are originally from Texas. I bring good news today to all of you transplanted Texans—I talked to the governor before I left yesterday and he told me to tell all of you to come on home, that he felt you had suffered enough and he would give you a pardon.

    As a matter of fact, Arizona is in an analogous situation to Texas. If all the Texans were taken out of Arizona, it would collapse and if all the hot air was sucked out of Texas, it would collapse.

    But Arizona offers a very powerful lesson to the rest of the country. The federal government owns 72% of all the land area in Arizona and 99% of it is devoted to wild-life refuges while office for federal employees have been crowded into a mere 1%. This proves without a doubt that the bureaucrats are giving the country to the birds.

    Texans are grateful for the contribution by the citizens of Arizona by your annual donation to our economy and to our public education. Every year you send us over 75,000 tourists who are loaded with money. In addition to this, we have over 50,000 people who have moved permanently from Arizona to Texas—by choice, they claim. If I were a typical Fourth of July orator—or a politician—I’d stand up here and tell you what fine citizens they are and what great contributions they are making to our state. But I’ll be perfectly candid with you and say that you can have them back anytime you want them.

    I’m sure you are wondering by now how I got on this program and there are several possible reasons: first, I usually come when I’m asked; second, back in my bureaucratic days, I made your distinguished President, Keith Quail, and Don Phillips, your outstanding Executive Secretary, Special Assistant Attorneys General of Texas and they invited me out here before they knew I was going out of office, in hope of getting their salary; third and I’m sure the actual controlling factor, I do it for nothing. Or it could be that I am a rare bird—a Texan with an inferiority complex about Texas, as well as the only successful politician in Texas—I quit.

    Sometimes I miss politics—that great game where the issues are crowded with emotionalism. The candidates are lined up and the atmosphere is pervaded with a sort of nervous eagerness. Politicians are finding things that haven’t been lost yet and turning up crimes that haven’t even been committed.

    There’s no problem too small to be turned into a crisis and every blabbermouth politician has a solution. I remember the first year I was in politics. That was when I almost had a nervous breakdown. I had a beautiful solution but couldn’t find a problem to go with it.

    But it is a relief being out of politics. You know a politician has to take more criticism that the weather man, resist more pressure than a judge at a beauty contest and face greater temptations than a surgeon operating on his own mother-in-law.

    Politics helped me a lot though. Even my parents agree on that. Someone recently asked my dad, “Has John Ben’s being in politics been of any real value?” “Yes,” Dad replied, “it’s cured his mother of bragging about him.”

    [Note: The views expressed in this speech were those of John Ben Shepperd, and do not necessarily represent the views of the John Ben Shepperd Public Leadership Institute or the University of Texas Permian Basin.]

  43. John Ben Shepperd: Panhandle Plains Regional Meeting of the Natural Gasoline Association of America

    Leave a Comment

    November 22, 1957

    Panhandle Plains Regional Meeting of the Natural Gasoline Association of America (Amarillo, Texas)

     

    The oil and gas industry is today in the in forefront of the struggle between the states and the federal government to determine the seat of sovereignty of our American system of government.

    We are front-line soldiers in this battle of ideas and we are bearing the brunt of the enemy’s mental artillery. Because our industry is successful and widespread, a major victory would be attained if its complete regulation could be stolen from the various states—governmental sovereignties which, by the way, have done an outstanding job in the field of conservation.

    We are being attacked from two directions. A direct frontal assault by a power-greedy federal government plagues us through its use of bureaucratic edicts to snap up powers from the States with reckless abandon.

    But we are being balked even more by a sneak attack from the rear by the United States Supreme Court. The Court has slipped into the battle through the back door to sweep away powers from the states which even the federal government doesn’t want. And in doing so it has made mincemeat out of our system of checks and balances and compounded the felony of federal encroachment.

    Of these two assaults, the destruction of the constitutional rights of the states through the judicial fiat is the more dangerous. This is true because its method is noiseless, moving through our midst like a ghostly apparition.  The cold and clammy designing hand of judicial legislation is often recognized in its ravages only by lawyers and parties litigant in the cases concerned. But if the Court continues with its insidiously successful trend, the states of the Union can be divested of their autonomy before our people know what is happening.

    The oil and gas industry was victim of this judicial legislation particularly in the Philips and Tidelands cases. In the Phillips case, we saw the entire natural gas industry fall under federal regulation despite a clear expression by Congress and the Federal Power Commission that independent producers were to be exempt. With this ruling also went the power to regulate over thirty per cent of the oil business because that much oil is produced with casinghead gas.

    We have painfully re-learned the fundamental that what the federal government regulates, it also controls.

    And if the new proposed regulations by the Federal Power Commission go into effect, we will have to change our entire bookkeeping, reporting and accounting procedures in order to conform to federal standards. We are already making more reports than we did in the Army and we are afraid to go to the bathroom without submitting a written request in triplicate to the FPC.

    We are being submerged and asphyxiated in a run-around of bureaucratic red tape, not only in our paper work but in all phases of our industry. We are being standardized to fit a pattern that will be convenient for the filing cabinets in Washington bureaus.

    But when you standardize this great industry in such a fashion, you are destroying the initiative, ingenuity and rugged individualism that made it great. The oil and gas industry is symbolic of free enterprise at its best. Compare our tremendous progress, contributions to society and contributions to government—in the form of revenue and scientific know-how—to that of socialistic countries which own or completely control oil and gas. In that vast difference we find a dynamic answer to the pseudo-intellectuals who want the government to do everything.

    Yet knowing these things we have allowed our industry to be backed into a corner. We have adopted an apologetic, negative attitude; we don’t call attention to our contributions to America loudly and clearly . . . we whisper about them.

    It is not politically popular to be in the oil and gas business except during campaign contributing time. Politicians refuse to stand up and speak for us. In fact, most of them won’t even admit they know anybody in our business. Since the President of the United States placed a $2500 price tag on the integrity of the United States Senate, we apologize when we support the Harris Bill as weak as the present version is.

    Whispers circulate that we can’t afford to be active because somebody might do something to the depletion allowance. We tolerate and yes, even support mediocre political hacks because they supposedly help us preserve our 27 ½%.

    This failure to face our responsibilities to the industry and to ourselves, is like the preacher conducting the funeral of a ne’er-do-well. The preacher couldn’t think of anything good or constructive to say about the deceased so after hemming and hawing around he finally said, “Old Jim was a good hand at gutting a fish.”

    The fact is that the states are being pushed out of the field of preservation and conservation in favor of an onrushing tide of outright socialization of our natural resources. But we ignore these things, the real issues involved, and allow ourselves to be sold a bill of goods that maintains we should be careful, quiet and absent . . . and be content to hold what we have.

    This stand-pat attitude is most prevalent in regard to the depletion allowance, yet all the while we are having to struggle with increased costs, rising prices for steel and difficulty in making new discoveries. We are not bringing in big fields anymore and we are spending much more money to get wells that deplete faster than the oil fields in East Texas—the Yates field, the Wink field and so on.

    Gentlemen, we don’t have to take a back seat to anybody when we talk about our depletion allowance! In fact, when some the left-wing A.D.A.’ers introduce a bill to lower it, we should find someone with enough guts to introduce one to raise it!

    We are also back on the defense on the Tidelands issue. Either because of mental laziness or sublime faith in the Eisenhower Administration, many Texans believed the issue was finally settled in 1953 when Congress passed the bill rightfully restoring the Tidelands to the various states. This legislation gave the President power to fix the Tidelands boundaries of the states. He could have restored to Texas her rightful heritage of three leagues or ten and one-half miles—he could still do so—but instead of this, his Justice Department has filed a suit to cut us back to three miles. Texas is still struggling with people who follow the philosophy that state lines are on the map of the United States only for the purpose of offering a more pleasant color scheme.

    A national committee studying physical fitness recently reported our youth are more “soft”.  This isn’t confined to our youth nor to our bodies. We are more than a little “soft in the head” if we think we can remain free by letting the federal government take our freedoms and liberties away.

    It becomes an entity separate from the people and begins to do our thinking for us. Every little desire of our hearts it endeavors to provide. The pursuit of happiness is not enough for it guarantee; it wants to make us happy. It is not enough that God made created us equal; the government wants to improve upon that creation. It is not enough to guarantee the citizen a fair shake; the government will see to it that every citizen gets the same shake even if he doesn’t want it.

    And our government—the creation of our own hands, which is our own responsibility – will accomplish these miracles by acting upon certain theories which we actively propagate among ourselves through wishful thinking plus the desire to escape responsibility.

    You have heard the expression “double-think”, a process by which political dialecticians convince us that black is white. Consider a few examples of our own double thinking. Consider them well, for these are the principles upon which our country is largely being governed. The way to establish prosperity is to discourage thrift. The way to help the poor is to destroy the rich. The way to help the wage earner is to tear down the wage payer. The way to make all men free is to make all men just alike. We can keep out of depression by constantly spending more than we earn. We can maintain prosperity by overtaxing the people and shipping the surplus money out of the country. We can build character and courage by taking away man’s initiative and independence. And the quickest way to divest the population of its initiative is to convince half of the people they need not work because the other half will support them; and to convince the other half that work is useless because someone else will reap the fruit of their labor.

    There is nothing wrong, I suppose, with centralized, socialized government as long as it does not undermine the citizen’s character, rob him of his liberties or take away his ability to govern himself. But that is like saying it’s all right to play around with temptation as long as you don’t get embroiled in sin.

    My chief objection to the centralization of government is not the expenditure of money but the destruction of the moral fiber of the people. Big government teaches the working man to spit on his boss instead of his hands. It treats private enterprise like a temporary, necessary evil. It teaches by precept and practice that there is nothing on the moral or spiritual plane that is worthy as much as higher material standard of living.

    But I know of no evil half so deadly as that which, at the present time, takes one-third of the average citizen’s income and spreads it around at home and abroad with such reckless abandon that our Federal Government now spends more money than all of our state and local governments put together. Already from the purely economic standpoint, the United States government is out-socializing the most completely socialized economies in the world. As a matter of fact, it is supporting most of them with forty-cent dollars. Our money is so inflated that telling a woman she looks like a million dollars is no longer a compliment.

    And how is this possible? Americans, historically, have been the most antagonistic of all people toward this philosophy of high taxation. It is primarily an abdication of personal responsibility.  Americans want to grow nothing but cotton and wear nothing but silk. We have mastered the art of being prosperous though broke, and safe though insecure.

    But there is a more present, more acute reason for the spiral of taxation and inflation which today is wiping out the collected savings of millions by eating up the value of the dollar faster than it collects interest. That reason is fear—fear of many things. Fear of old age, insecurity, failure, social inferiority, sickness and many other facts of life. But most of all and most reprehensible of all, we are afraid of Communism.

    The fear of Communism is making cowards of us all and for fear of the Kremlin we are spending ourselves into bankruptcy, just as Lenin predicted in 1920.  For fear of Communism we are still trying to buy friendship around the world and failing more dismally year by year, billion by billion. Every way we turn, the specter of Communism jumps up to frighten us into pouring more money into the federal treasury.

    This year there was a slight trend toward economy in government—although it wasn’t very noticeable—but it all vanished like so much smoke when then Communists put their satellites up in the sky.

    Immediately the free spenders began running around in circles, just like Sputnik, calling for drastic increases in government expenditures without bothering to find out first if the money was even needed.

    They began pointing at the sky and asking “How Much Is That Doggie in the Window?” But this is no six-bit doggie they want to buy . . . his doghouse costs millions of dollars.

    We are fretfully conscious of what the Communists will say about us if we don’t do this or that.  Our every move, domestic or foreign, is calculated on the basis of whether the Communists will make propaganda hay out of it. For fear of Communism, we are destroying the Constitution. The Government feels that it has to be out-socialize the master Socialists, otherwise the other countries of the world will not like us. The danger of Communism is only this—that it forces those who fear it to imitate it.

    It is time for Americans to utter a new Declaration of Independence. It is time for each of up to stand up and say, “I am not afraid of Communism. And for fear of Communism, I will not lay down my basic American Freedoms, nor will I suffer my fellow countrymen to be abused by hysterical politicians and bureaucrats, nor will I be taxed into oblivion, nor will I be smothered to death with the kisses of the welfare state. I will not allow my country’s domestic affairs to be governed by considerations of what Communist propagandists may say about it. I will not permit my country to be made a fool in the embassies of the world for fear that other countries without honor or pride may consort with Communists if we do not buy them off. The pirates of Tripoli were men of better caliber. Billions for defense, if necessary, but not one cent for tribute to Communism.”

    [Note: The views expressed in this speech were those of John Ben Shepperd, and do not necessarily represent the views of the John Ben Shepperd Public Leadership Institute or the University of Texas Permian Basin.]

  44. Press Release: JBS Leadership Institute Names 2019 Outstanding Leaders

    Leave a Comment

    JBS Leadership Institute Names 2019 Outstanding Leaders

    by Tatum Guinn – Communications Manager | August 7, 2019

    The University of Texas Permian Basin is celebrating the winners of the John Ben Shepperd Leadership Institute’s highest honors during the Texas Leadership Forum in October.

    The John Ben Shepperd TLF is a state-wide public leadership conference that has brought together some of the best Texas leaders since 1985. Each year the conference honors Texans who are making a difference in their communities by naming an Outstanding Texas Leader, Outstanding Local Leader, Shepperd Pathfinder and Shepperd Trailblazer.

    This year’s Texas Leadership Forum honorees include: Chief Justice Kem Thompson Frost, Jim Woodcock, Dr. Jason Terrell and Vivienne Dragun.

    The public can attend the weekend event on October 4thand 5thin Austin.  It begins with a reception at the Bullock Texas State History Museum; includes the opportunity to attend a morning session inside the state capitol and concludes with the awards ceremony at the Sheraton Austin Hotel. For more information on sponsorships or tickets to the event contact the JBS Leadership Institute at (432) 552-2850 or email at jbs@utpb.edu.

     

    Honorees:

     

    The 2019 Outstanding Texas Leader is Chief Justice Kem Thompson Frost. Appointed to Texas’s Fourteenth Court of Appeals in 1999 by then-Governor George W. Bush and elevated to Chief Justice in 2013 by then-Governor Rick Perry, Kem Frost just marked two decades in the Texas judiciary. Before taking the bench, she enjoyed a fifteen-year civil trial and appellate practice with two large, Texas-based law firms. Kem Frost has received many honors and awards for her leadership and service on the bench and in the community, including a State Bar of Texas Presidential Commendation for “individual leadership in improving justice in Texas.”

     

     

     

    local-leader-jim-woodcock.jpgJim Woodcock is the 2019 Outstanding Local Leader. Jim Woodcock has led a life filled with love, philanthropy and many successes.  As proud Midlanders, Jim and Claire Woodcock have made the Permian Basin their home for over forty years. Jim purchased Hy-Bon Engineering in 1979. The company was an early adaptor of the environmental side of the oil and gas industry. This Midland-based company and its cutting-edge opportunities took him to many countries around the world. While there have been many more businesses and accomplishments during Jim’s career, which has spanned five decades and several continents, Jim also finds time to provide philanthropic insight and giving to his community.Jim serves on many community boards, including UT Permian Basin’s Development Board and College of Business Advisory Council. He is also the founder of the world’s cutting-edge, premiere water conference, the Permian Basin Water In Energy Conference. It is an almost all volunteer-run non-profit organization which has provided approximately $1M in positive economic impact to the Permian Basin and provided gifts to UT Permian Basin totaling over $110,000  to help grow, fund and fuel our local economy and future in just under two years.

     

    pathfinder-jason-terrell-md.jpg

    Dr. Jason Terrell is the 2019 Shepperd Pathfinder for his work in the fight against cancer. Dr. Terrell is the Chief Executive Officer of Austin-based Volition America and the Chief Medical Officer of the international parent company VolitionRx. Volition’s development of low-cost, easy-to-use, routine blood tests for cancer testing expects to save countless lives by improving cancer screening compliance and early detection. Dr. Terrell is the Non-Executive Chairman for Kiromic Biopharma in Houston. Kiromic is currently conducting multiple clinical trials and is developing the world’s first off-the-shelf immunotherapy pill to reprogram the patient’s immune system to defeat cancer. Dr. Terrell is the Chief Medical and Scientific Officer for Generex Biotechnology, an integrated healthcare holding company providing physicians, hospitals, and providers comprehensive solutions for patient centric care from rapid diagnosis through delivery of personalized therapies, streamlining care processes, minimizing expenses, and delivering transparency for payers. Dr. Terrell is a faculty member at the University of Texas at Austin Dell Medical School Department of Oncology where he serves as an industry and clinical expert for the Texas Health Catalyst Program supporting researchers, innovators, and entrepreneurs to accelerate the translation of ideas and innovations to health products.

     

    trailblazer-dragun.jpg

    Earning the 2019 Shepperd Trailblazer award is Trinity High School senior Vivienne Dragun. Dragun has a heart for
    serving her community. She is a thirteen-year member of the Girl Scouts of the Desert Southwest. Last year Dragun organized a Children’s Safety and Wellness Fair that brought together multiple agencies in an outreach effort to families of young children. Bike helmets, car safety seats, first aid kits, and books were given away by the Midland Police Department, Midland Fire Department, and the Midland County Public Library. Through scouts, school, and church she has been taught to set a good example and to help others.

  45. John Ben Shepperd: Chamber of Commerce Installation Benefit

    Leave a Comment

    May 14, 1957

    Chamber of Commerce Installation Benefit (Marshall, Texas)

     

    The Legislature has managed to find plenty of problems – and their share of solutions.  They are in their 127th day – the last seven days without pay.  The Session has cost over 1 1/4 million dollars or over $10,000 a day.  Each bill passed to date has cost the people $3,500, including the one to outlaw alligator hunting in Chambers County.

    The filibuster record was broken again by a group of Senators who placed a demagogic appeal to a misguided minority above the right of the local school districts of Texas to manage and settle their own problems.  A two day filibuster costs enough to pay a Senator’s salary for fourteen years.

    It always makes news when somebody filibusters, but in spite of all the publicity, there are still thousands of citizens who think a filibuster is a cowboy who breaks fillies.  But then these same characters think a lobbyist is a hotel bell-hop.

    The Legislature is considering a record-breaking spending bill of over 2 billion dollars.  We are now spending more than 2 million dollars a day, which in 1899 would have run the state government for a whole year.

    Water started out as the biggest problem facing the Legislature – is still is, only conditions have changed – at the beginning, we didn’t have any – now we have too much.

    The Legislature has given the Game and Fish Commission more control over fish and game but still has not provided effective controls of wild-cat insurance companies by passing a law providing for criminal penalties.

    The Legislature has passed a bill opening deer season in Duval County but they have only passed two of the fifteen bills that would “Open the door to good government in Texas”.  These bills were designed to prevent a reoccurrence of the sordid and sorry mess that existed in Duval County.  Among these bills was one to prevent secret meetings of governmental bodies; another provides for the removal of any public official who claimed the Fifth Amendment on any question pertaining to his official duties; another provides for full publication of proceedings and financial statements of governmental bodies.

    However, the Legislature did stop turkey shooting in Zapata County for five years so if we can’t look through the open door and watch our public officials, we can at least watch the turkeys – they also lay eggs.

    Actually I can’t be too critical of the Legislature, particularly the House of Representatives, because in my opinion, they would have had a worthwhile and fruitful session if they had done nothing else but pass the eight Segregation Bills that are designed to leave the affairs of local government in local hands.

    And right here, I would like to commend your very able Representative of this County, Reagan Huffman, for leading this fight.  Reagan has done a job on these bills that will forever be a monument to his statesmanship and sincerity of purpose.  Your State Senator, Wardlow Lane, has also ably handled the passage of one of the bills through the Senate and I feel sure will be successful in pushing through the others.

    But I didn’t come here tonight to talk about the Legislature.  I came to talk about the Chamber of Commerce.

    When we talk about the struggle that our Chambers of Commerce are having to build better and more progressive communities, there is another struggle going on in the courthouses and the state and national capitols that should concern you very much – the struggle to determine the seat of our sovereignty.

    Those of us who are still old-fashioned enough to believe in local autonomy and constitutional government as set forth by the founding fathers in 1787 are being plagued by a power-greedy Federal Government which, through bureaucratic edict is snapping up powers from the states with reckless abandon.  We are balked even more by a United States Supreme Court which takes powers from the states which even the Federal Government does not want.  We firmly believe that this Court has superimposed its own political theory over our constitutional law and that unless something is done, state lines will soon be erased.

    There is another area in which we are slowly but surely losing our freedom in this country and that is the field of government spending and taxing.  Governmental wise, Texas and the nation are in one of their most critical periods.  This year government will take 119 billion dollars from the pockets of tax-payers: the Federal Government 86 billion, state and local 33 billion.  Taxes in total have doubled in seven years.  Government is now taking one dollar out of each three of national income.  The 275 billion dollar federal debt equals the full assessed value of all the land, all the buildings, all the mines, all the machinery, all the factories, all the livestock – everything of tangible value in the United States of America.  In addition to this 27 billion dollar federal debt, the Federal Government now has 250 billion dollars in contingent liabilities, F.H.A. mortgages and such, which bring its primary and secondary obligations to the staggering total of 535 billion dollars.  On top of this the total debt of the forty-eight state governments is $12,890,000,000.

    What can we do about all this money?  I have been thinking for some time that we should turn the job of governing us – at least the financial end of it – over to the women of America.

    It’s actually a woman’s world – at least they own and control most of it financially.  Women own a majority of the stock in railroad, bus lines, utilities, steel and 44% of oil.  Women buy 90% of men’s neckties.  Women spend 7 ½ out of every 10 consumer dollars in this country, and they have proved they can spend money more wisely than men – with maybe one exception – last year women spent over 69 million dollars on lipstick – they should have credit of course for the amount that rubbed off on men.  They spent 132 million on shampoos; 88 million on home permanents; 26.5 million on rinses, tints and dyes – I suppose they have heard that gentleman prefer – but then that’s another subject.  They spent 66 million for cleansing cream; 52.8 million on make-up bases and a mere 8.8 million on eye make-up.  This doesn’t include an additional 2.8 billion dollars spent in beauty shops.  But then girls will be girls – or do their darndest to be.

    That’s a lot of money, of course, but I believe women have done more with it and gotten better results – at least it looks better – than our politicians have done spending our tax-money.  Yes, we must all be concerned with over-centralization of a government we can’t afford to support.

    And where do these things lead us?  Why right back to ourselves.  We know – if we would only be honest – that federal encroachment couldn’t gallop so fast if there were not considerable backing down the local level.  And that the Constitution wouldn’t be so badly abused in Washington if there weren’t so little use of it at home.  What do we need to get things back in proper proportion?

    We need leaders who will put courage into state and local governments by serving in office and executing policies consistent with our basic beliefs of integrity, efficiency and economy.  We need business men who can use their heads to find ways of developing local resources and financing local improvements without depending on the Federal Government for help.  When leadership in state and local government breaks down, the people are forced to try to vote for prosperity instead of working for it.

    Too many would-be leaders will assume leadership only within the safe boundaries of non-partisan and non-controversial fields and refuse to get mixed up in politics because they think it will hurt business or antagonize the boss or the union.  Show me a man with no identifiable stand on a clear-cut issue and I’ll show you a man with no identifiable character, patriotism or value to his community.

    We need men and women will speak out for private enterprise.  A silent voice in the ranks of business is a shout for socialism or worse and a negative business man is almost as bad as positive Communist.  We need bankers who will be quick to give loans to young people just getting started and we need young people who won’t be satisfied with extra benefits and guaranteed income, but who value the freedom to excel on their own. If more people today were spitting on their hands instead of their employers, the country would be a lot better off.

    And what about fellowship?  It takes a heap of living to make a house a home and it takes a heap of good citizenship to make freedom live.  But where does freedom die?

    Freedom dies in the path over which men and women no longer walk to the polls.  It dies when on the courthouse lawn where they no longer attend political rallies.  It expires on the concrete steps of the schoolhouse where the feet of grown people never tread.  It perishes in church pews that are never filled and in homes where half the family is just standing by the door waiting for the other half to get back with the car.  Freedom dies wherever people are too stiff-necked to bow their heads and too weak-kneed to walk the straight line of responsibility.

    We need a lot of men and women who are sold on basic American principles.  We need men and women who won’t sacrifice a dot or a dash in the Constitution to get a dollar sign on their personal ledger; who can take the ups and downs of life without becoming so concerned with left and the right that they forget the above and below.  We need men and women who’d rather be right than rich; who’d rather be fair than be famous; who’d rather be honest than be exalted; who’d rather be good than be clever; who’d rather be free then be secure; and who’d rather die on their feet than see their fellow citizens living on their knees.

    Are these old truisms too dreamy and idealistic?  Will they work in 1957?  Let’s stop and take stock and see if we need idealistic dreamers, who recognize the need for a knowledge, love and devotion of the past.  In my humble opinion, this nation needs such idealistic dreamers today more than ever before in our history!  We need them as long as there are closed doors in public office, public meetings held in secret and public files marked “Confidential”.  We need them as long as there are antiquated, harmful laws on the statute books, remaining there only because they suit somebody’s political or financial convenience – and as long as there are loopholes in the law, left there by lawyer-legislators for the benefit of their private practice.

    We need idealists as long as we live under big, bloated governments feeding on the lassitude of a citizenry that wants everybody to have a benefit at everybody else’s expense.  We need them as long as this nation is trying to live high on money borrowed from our children’s unborn children.  We need idealistic, courageous men and women as long as we have judges who cannot or will not lay aside their politics when they put up on the judicial robes.

    Yes, we need idealistic dreamers as long as we have people in this country who believe that the best things in life can either be bought with money or voted into existence.  We need idealistic dreamers to constantly remind other Americans that nobody can go down the bank and file way a title to an East Texas sunset.  Nobody can lay gold on the counter and purchase cherished friendships, nor can we purchase at any price the love and companionship of a loyal wife or husband.  And all the dazzling wealth of the universe is not half so beautiful as the sound of a mother’s lullaby or the laughter of a strong, free man because

    Freedom is old, not young, yet it;
    is born anew in the first cry of
    a free man’s son;
    It is not a living thing, yet it
    dies if we do not love it;
    It is not weak, yet it must be
    defended;
    It is light, yet it weighs heavy
    on him who is without it;
    It is without price, yet it dearly
    costs the one who sells it;
    It is not small, but great; yet
    once lost, it is never, never
    found again.
    Yes, to be born free is an accident;
    To live free is a responsibility;
    To die free is an obligation.

    [Note: The views expressed in this speech were those of John Ben Shepperd, and do not necessarily represent the views of the John Ben Shepperd Public Leadership Institute or the University of Texas Permian Basin.]

  46. George’s Last Ride

    Leave a Comment

    This poem, by an unknown author, celebrates the struggle against Duval County Sherriff George Parr, including the role played by then-Attorney General John Ben Shepperd and Texas Governor Allan Shivers

    George’s Last Ride – (We Hope)

     

    Listen, my friends, and you shall hear,
    Of the Duke of Duval and his reign of fear.
    On a cold dark night, this wise old smarty,
    Did spy on a meeting of the Freedom Party;
    He sat in his car, on Jim Wells land,
    And since has been known as the “Binocular Man.”
    Now for this man don’t shed any tear,
    For this folly led him to a twist of an ear.

    The very next morning, this warrior bold
    Walked into the courthouse, so it is told.
    Strutted into court with a chip on his shoulder,
    Never thinking he’d meet with a ranger much bolder.
    He answered “not guilty” when asked for his plea,
    Walked out in the hall and met ranger Allee!

    Then old George, and his nephew Archie,
    Had a manner both bold and starchy,
    Cussed the rangers and pulled a gun,
    Archie hit Bridges, and started the fun.
    In this melee some knuckles got dusted,
    And the bold, bad sheriff got his glasses busted!
    And oh! How the public did laugh and sneer,
    For the Great Duke George got a bloody ear!

    To Duval one day went our district attorney,
    He thought he was safe, on such a short journey.
    While drinking coffee at a wayside inn,
    This smart-alec lawyer at a ranger did grin.
    He should never have laughed as he did, with a sneer,
    For he got taken outside and kicked in the rear!

    Tales have been told of George and his bounty,
    Now we know he did it by robbing the county.
    He thought he was safe, this man and his booty,
    He could tell the judge just what was his duty.
    He ignored the people in all their fury;
    With the judge in his power, George picked the jury!

    Now comes the tale of this judge they call Woody,
    Whose reputation is now quite sooty.
    This smart little man had spots like a leopard,
    And all were brought out by John Ben Shepperd.
    The high court of Texas dug out the soot,
    Kicked him out of office and put in Broadfoot!

    This leaves poor George stirring in fury,
    He may come to trial and can’t pick the jury!
    I think that sometimes he must get the quivers,
    For Shepperd’s still after him, and so is A. Shivers!
    They’ve sworn they will get him, and Georgie will fall,
    They’ll run this Great State of Texas for the good of us all!

  47. John Ben Shepperd: “Young Man with a System”

    Leave a Comment

     

     July 26, 1957

     United States Junior Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors (Tulsa, Oklahoma)

    Young Man with a System

     

    Thank you for that kind introduction.  Seldom have I seen such an important subject handled so well and with such masterful self-restraint and understatement.

    I imagine President Shearer found himself in the same predicament as the Master of Ceremonies who got up and said, “Our next speaker needs no introduction.  Even if I reminded you who he is, you still wouldn’t remember him”.

    Seriously, I’m honored to be here at the beginning of President Charles Shearer’s administration.  I feel sorry for him, of course, because even working day and night and getting every conceivable break, he can never hope to become more than the second best President this organization ever had.

    I’m very flattered that you have allowed me to come back and mingle with you socially, now that I’m only an ex-Jaycee.  I do miss the old Jaycee life – the charged atmosphere, the great challenges, the bold decisions, the agonizing reappraisals, the hasty apologies.

    I’m supposed to talk about the value of Junior Chamber training after you get out.  I consider myself an excellent example.  When I was a Jaycee, I would walk down the street and people would say, “There’s that little squirt”.  Now I walk down the street and people say, “There’s that big drip”.

    An old uncle of mine put it this way.  “Son, I’m worried about your future.  You spent the first part of your life in the Junior Chamber of Commerce.  Then you went into politics and now you are in the oil and gas business.  You’re going to hell gradually; you ain’t going to know when you get there.”

    Speaking about politics – I could talk all afternoon about the brilliant and outstanding record I made in public office because I like to speak on this subject whenever there is the slightest interest in it.  And frankly, you have shown the slightest interest of any group I have ever appeared before.

    Of course Jaycee training helps in politics.  In fact, a Jaycee and a politician have many things in common.  To be a good Jaycee or politician you have to be as agile as a monkey because you spend most of your time out on a limb.  You need a big chin as you lead with it and a thick skin to ward off the stings of insult and ingratitude.

    You have to have strong knees so you can stand on your own two feet all day and still be limber enough to kneel at bedtime.  You’ve got to have a big mouth so you won’t choke when you put our foot in it and a good appetite so you can swallow your pride and eat your own words.  You need a deaf ear for flattery and a good ear for criticism and advice and sense enough not to get them mixed up.

    But most of all, you need a rubber neck because you’re expected to turn the other cheek, face reality, look backward at history and forward to the future, confront the issue and face the music all at the same time.

    Both Jaycees and politicians work under more pressure than a deep-sea diver, take more criticism than a poor man with an ambitious mother-in-law, suffer greater temptations than a shoplifter in Fort Knox and are expected to be everywhere at once with their eyes open, like a chaperone at a Senior Prom on a warm spring night.

    But getting out politics has its advantages – kinda like finishing a hard year as state president or a national officer of the Jaycees – you find that you can mingle with your children without a formal introduction.  They soon get accustomed to seeing you around the house even though they can’t figure out exactly where you fit into the picture.

    But I guess the best thing about being a civilian again is getting away from disgruntled constituents.  In Texas all the state officials are issued license plates on which the number is preceded by the letters “SO”, standing for State Official.  I just presumed it was a disgruntled constituent with a paint brush who added a large “B” on mine.

    Politics helped me a lot though.  Even my parents agree on that.  Someone recently asked my dad, “Has John Ben’s being in politics been of any real value?”  “Yes,” Dad replied, “It’s cured his mother of bragging about him”.

    But I didn’t come here to talk about myself – entirely.  I want to saw a few words about a subject close to everyone’s heart – a subject that competes with Mother, Home, Country, and the Jaycees for our first allegiance — Texas.  I know you’d like to hear a few reverent remarks on that subject because whenever I go outside my native state and announce that I’m going to talk about Texas, everyone says, “Oh please!”  Some get so emotional they have to get up and leave.

    Actually we Texans don’t enjoy bragging about Texas as much as you think we do.  It’s just that everyone expects it of us and we are too polite not to fulfill our obligations.

    As a matter of fact, if all the Texans who brag were laid end to end, it would meet with the unanimous approval of the rest of the country.

    I think it’s time the truth was told about Texas.  Some folks say Texans don’t have a very high regard for the truth, but actually we value it very highly and that’s why we are so economical with it.

    Some of you have heard me speak on this topic before and you’ll have to admit that I give you nothing but straight bragging without editorializing.  There are a few degenerates, I admit, who don’t stick to the truth and they give us a bad name.  But there aren’t very many of them.  Statistically, if all the no-good, lying Texans were piled aboard one train and departed from the state – by golly, I’d have that whole big state to myself!

    You have to realize that there’s something about Texas that makes Texas people the way they are.  Some say we have a nasal quality of speech.  If we talk through our noses, it’s because we don’t like to stop breathing that Texas air while we talk.

    Another serious misconception needs to be cleared up about Texas.  It is not true that all Texans are oil rich.  In fact, if all the people getting rich on oil in Texas were suddenly taken up into Heaven at the last trump – which within itself is an unlikely supposition – the state would still have left two janitors, three sharecroppers and a darn good former Jaycee President.

    To top this – every sixteenth child born in the United States is a Texan and Texans are born four times as fast as they die which is pretty discouraging to the rest of the country.

    Another discouraging thing to “outsiders” is that Texans live longer too.  Texas is so much like Heaven that they don’t see the point in moving on.  Besides, there’s always the element of doubt as to which way they’d go.

    I know that you are dying to know some facts and figures about Texas.  Texans drilled 25,000 oil wells last year; they are running 292,000 farms and 11,500 factories, carrying 14 billion dollars in life insurance, keeping 2 ½ billion on deposit in their 985 banks and getting a substantial part of the 500 million embezzled in the U.S. annually – of course, some would have you believe we have been getting all of it.

    But we have a lot of fun in Texas.  We catch 140 million pounds of fish every year, start 1800 forest fires, have about 1 million teeth pulled, pay 2 and ½ billion dollars in federal taxes and seriously injure a farm resident every half minute.

    We are running about 70,000 corporations and 121,000 business establishments, including 154 independent shoe-shine parlors, 58 Turkish baths, 20 detective agencies, 31 diaper services and an unknown number of uranium sitting ditches.  On top of that we send more than 3,000 dog heads to the State Health Department every year to be examined for rabies, indict some 15,000 fellow citizens, commit about 350,000 major and minor crimes, pluck more than 8 and ½ million bales of cotton.  It’s easier to pick a tourist than to pick cotton.  More fun, too.  I’ve tried both and I know.

    The federal government now owns 1.5% of all the land area of Texas and 754,000 acres of it is devoted to wildlife refuges, while offices for federal employees have been crowded onto a mere 227 acres.  This proves that the bureaucrats are giving the country to the birds.

    They call Texans the land of the big rich and I guess they’re right.  If all the minerals, crops and livestock in a given year were divided up among us, we’d each get 7/8th’s of a cow, 1/4th of a hog, 4 pounds of pecans, 104 barrels of oil and 1/80th of a jackass.

    The stork is making more stops in Texas than he used to – may be too wet to fly over.  He’s making about 120 stops out of every possible 1,000 eligible homes and, of course, a few that ain’t eligible.

    To boil this factual report on Texas down to a simple formula – in Texas, men are men and women are women and I defy you to improve on a situation like that!  Or as the old maid said, “Who’s trying to improve on it, I just want to get in on it.”

    In the first half of our century an organization was born which was destined to become one of the most vital and significant in the stream of American life.

    At 37 years of age that organization – the United States Junior Chamber of Commerce – is well on its way to the fulfillment of that destiny, the destiny that was not a matter of chance, but a matter of choice.  The Junior Chamber of Commerce taps a reservoir of energies and potentialities for good which no other organization has yet been able to utilize in such abundance – the idealistic, unselfish and unquenchable vitality of young manhood.

    Young manhood is not a time of life, but a phenomenon of human intelligence, vitality and genius – a moving force out of which come Napoleons, Alexanders, Lincolns, Einstein’s, Edison’s and Rockefeller’s.  Out of the reservoir of young American manhood has flowed a stream of energetic genius that has made our country the greatest and best the world has yet seen.

    They say young men are just little boys grown up.  That is at least partly true and I am thankful for it.  They are little boys insomuch as they are full of curiosity and energy.  They do not know that thing is impossible so they go ahead do it.  They are not yet blanketed with the snows of skepticism and have not traded the spirit of adventure for dusty sophistication and worldly wisdom.  Young men go forward where others fail because life is a moving force which responds to the law of action.

    The Junior Chamber of Commerce is an action organization with the object and purpose of producing leadership.  It doesn’t try to build communities.  It builds men and it is men and women who build cities, states and nations.  The Junior Chamber of Commerce is a training ground for young men who want to have a part in shaping the destiny of their communities and their country.

    The greatest strength of the Junior Chamber of Commerce is that its ideal is far outside itself.  Young men are not Jaycees for the sake of being Jaycees.  Jayceeism is not an end in itself, but a means to a much larger end, it is only a vehicle to help young men get where they are going – to help them achieve leadership.

    It doesn’t try to hold onto its members, but pushes them out at the age of 35, trained to lead in community affairs without the help of any parent organization.  It says goodbye to them at the age when they are just beginning to show their greatest value and capabilities.  It stays behind while they go onto whatever heights God will lead them.  It’s a very unselfish mother and its raises good boys.

    In the last few years I have had considerable experience as an employer of young men and I have had the new experience of looking at the Jaycees from the viewpoint of a boss whose “boys” were not available for an important conference at noon on some weekdays because they were with the Jaycees, either having lunch, rattling buckets on the street corner or planting trees on the grounds of the School for Retarded Children.  I know how it feels to need one of them at night, phone their home and have their wives tell me I’m out of luck because they’re out do-gooding with the Jaycees.  Yes, I have looked at the Jaycees in a different light since I stopped running with them and was forced to run after them.

    But it didn’t change my mind about them.  I have found that the men in the Jaycees make the most valuable employees.  I’ve seen many a transformation brought about by this organization.  Today a young man may be an obscure clerk; but after a while in the Jaycees, after getting into the bloodstream of the community affairs, he’s in a position to hire and fire clerks by the dozen.  Today he may be a follower; tomorrow he’ll be a leader.  But in the meantime he’ll spend time on committees or running around on cold nights helping on some kind of improvement project or standing on the street corner with a loud speaker telling people to give, and vote, and go, and come , and listen and be concerned.  He’ll start getting public recognition.  People he doesn’t know from Adam will call him by name on the street and he will be on speaking terms with hundreds he never knew before.  His boss will begin to realize that all this civic activity inspires the community’s confidence and appreciation and results in new business and he shouldn’t be surprised to find the community looking to his clerk, his salesman, his assistant or his employees for civic leadership.

    This leadership doesn’t stop at 36.  You can spot former Jaycees a mile off as they put into practice the things learned in this great organization.  They lead in business, the professions and civic affairs.  They know how to get the job done – they don’t mind working and they continue the feeling of compassion for their fellow man.

    Think back, each of you, of the fellows you know that have through this great training vehicle – aren’t they the leaders in your communities today?

    What is it about a Jaycee that makes him want to pay the price of leadership?  What kind of person is a Jaycee anyway?

    A Jaycee is a crazy, mixed-up kid who gets everything backwards.  He thinks personal happiness depends not on how the world treats you, but on how you treat the world. He thinks the only thing you can take with you in what you have given to others and the only way that you can rise in the world is to keep your feet on the ground and stay on the level.

    A Jaycee has a bad sense of proportion; there is no job too big for him and there’s no job so small that he thinks he is too big for it.  He’s also very superstitious.  He believes in luck and the harder he works, the more of it he seems to have.  He is so weak and helpless in the face of a really tough problem that he has to call on God for help and he thinks an ounce of sweat carries more weight with God than a bucket of tears.

    I have faith in the Jaycees.  I’ve seen them roll up a sleeve and get things done that others called impossible.  I’ve seen them wade in and solve a problem with muscle and elbow grease before older and wiser men could even get it outlined at the conference table.  I’ve seen them pump the breath of life into towns that were dead on their feet and slap the wind out of crooked demagogues and private interests that were holding whole cities in their grip.  But more than that, I’ve seen them turn pipsqueaks into men, pessimists into optimists and quitters into fighters.

    I’m sure that as members of the Junior Chamber of Commerce, you wonder at times what the public thinks of you as an organization.  In every town there are always a few cynics, generally nursing some personal inadequacy, who criticize the Jaycees for being eager beavers without the mature judgement of older men.

    I’ve heard them compared to the Irish – who don’t know what they want and are willing to fight for it.  And to the English – who admit being self-made and worship their creator.

    But since I was kicked out of the nest at 36, I have discovered that the majority of the public likes and respects the Jaycee because of the thing he does.

    To hundreds of poor children at Christmas-time he is the Santa Claus they didn’t believe in.  To thousands of citizens who see him sweating on a street corner by a traffic light, munching a sandwich for lunch, shaking a bucket and asking for pennies to give the little fellows in the polio wards a fighting chance; he looks like a pretty decent guy.  To millions of people who see him riding on a truck bed in the heat of the summer calling people to go and vote, he looks like Uncle Sam in a limp shirt.  And to the crooks and false leaders who creep into local government to pull down the curtain of secrecy, close the open doors of public office, lull the people into apathy and steal them blind, he looks like the hangman.

    You can be sure that your community respects you as an organization of young men who work together for the common good and nothing you do with a worthy motive will ever fail or be unappreciated.

    But are you everything that your community would like for you to be?  Are you everything your town needs? Is it enough to get out the vote, collect the money for a good cause, beautify the city, sponsor worthy projects and so on until you are 36?  Are you through when the awards are locked in the trophy case and the scrapbook is closed?  You’re training for leadership in your community.  What do people expect a leader to do?

    Leadership means doing everything for the good of others, which often means doing it at the sacrifice of personal popularity.  Very often it means standing alone in the belief that you are right and the crowd is wrong.  Sometimes it means being a busybody and other times being stubborn – having a strong will and a stronger won’t.  But sooner or later the community will follow the men who does what he knows is right, whether the crowd is with him or not, and in spite of the pressures of the self-interest and convenience.  The city you live in will respect you as long as you respect and follow your own civic conscience.  Such a man is never poor, never without friends.  There is no cabinet that will contain his trophies and no scrapbook can tell his deeds.

    There are too many so-called leaders, you know, who are not willing to serve their communities because they are waiting for the call of bigger things.  They want an appointment to a big national council, a regional presidency or a state board and don’t have time to head the call of the school board or the P.T.A.  They want to fight federal encroachment and preserve the good old Constitution.  They want to preserve private enterprise from the effects of creeping socialism.  But they don’t want to grab the bull by the horns where it will do the most good – down on the local level.  They want to change everything they don’t like just by changing the federal government.

    But it is high time we realize that Democracy does not give people the government they wish for, but the government they deserve.

    The towns and cities of the United States are begging the Jaycees to give them community leaders who will put courage into local government by serving in office and executing policies consistent with our basic beliefs of integrity, economy and efficiency.  We need business men who can use their heads to stimulate local enterprise and to keep people from having to depend on federal help to develop local resources and finance local improvements.

    We need bankers who will be quick to give loans to young people who are just getting started so they won’t have to go to the federal government for the money to build their homes and start their businesses.  We need local leaders who are not afraid to start local projects without a guarantee of federal aid which is also a guarantee of federal control.

    When leadership on the local level breaks down, the people are forced into the position of having to vote for prosperity instead of working for it.

    We seem to have an abundance of able men who want to be leaders, but who want to steer clear of controversial issues.  They refuse to get mixed up in politics or to tell how they stand because they think it will hurt business or antagonize the boss or the union.  Show me a man with no identifiable stand on a clear-cut issue and I’ll show you a man with no identifiable character or value to his community.  You can try so hard to stay away from the pro and the con that you become blind to the right and the wrong.

    Can the Jaycees give us this kind of leadership?  Can they put men in places of responsibility who will make their own record and stand on them instead of jumping on the other fellow’s?  We need men who won’t get to the top through pull and then stop pulling – who won’t let the American way of life die of cold feet because they were afraid to get into hot water.  We don’t need leaders who can sit on a podium or stand on a platform; we need men and women who can stand on their own two feet and kneel on their own two knees.  We need the kind who can be right and be president too.

    I don’t know what the Jaycees lapel pin means to you.   But to me it means that the man behind it, wherever he is, is trying to create an atmosphere in which every mother’s son is a future president – where the size of man is not measured from his feet to his head, but from his head to the sky … where men and women are free to work and enjoy the fruits of their labor … where people can walk with their heads up, take off a hat to nobody and choose their own God.  It means that in any community where there are plenty of young men like the Jaycees, the industries will hum and the markets will hustle, the sick will be cared for and the downtrodden will be lifted up; the children will laugh, the old people will smile and the women will sing.

    It is a common fallacy of young men to measure success in terms of prosperity and to fix their eyes on a horizon of gold.  We must always remember that the good things of life are not bought with money.  Nobody can open a safe deposit box and file away a title to an American sunset.  No one can lay gold on the counter and buy the look of trust and innocence in a child’s yes.  No man can trade hard cash for the companionship of a true friend or purchase at any price the love and devotion of a faithful wife.  And all the money in all the treasuries of the world is not worth the sound of a mother’s lullaby . . . or the laughter of a free man.

    Because freedom is old, not young;
    yet it is born anew in the first
    cry of a free man’s son;
    It is not a living thing, yet it
    dies if we do not love it;
    It is not weak, but strong; yet it
    must be defended;
    It is light, yet it weighs heavy
    on him who is without it;
    It is without price, yet it dearly
    costs the one who sells it;
    It is not small, but great; yet
    once lost, it is never, never
    found again.
    Yes, to be born free is an accident;
    To live free is a responsibility;
    But to die free is an obligation.

     

    [Note: The views expressed in this speech were those of John Ben Shepperd, and do not necessarily represent the views of the John Ben Shepperd Public Leadership Institute or the University of Texas Permian Basin.]

  48. George Herbert Walker Bush

    Leave a Comment

    ProfileGeorge H.W. Bush

    President of the United States: 1989-1993

    Born in Massachusetts in 1924, George Herbert Walker Bush went from high school directly into the Navy and became the youngest American naval pilot of World War II. He flew 58 combat missions in the Pacific and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. Bush graduated from Yale in 1948 and entered the oil business in Odessa, Texas; oil would take the Bushes to California, back to Midland, Texas, and eventually to Houston. Many years after George Bush moved away from this area he remembered, “At Odessa we became Texans, and proud of it.”

    In 1966, Bush was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives and later served as Ambassador to the United Nations, liaison to China, and Director of the CIA. In 1980, Bush was elected as Ronald Reagan’s vice president; in 1988, he won the presidency himself over Michael Dukakis, famously promising “Read my lips: No new taxes.”

    As communist governments began collapsing across Eastern Europe in 1989, President Bush responded with caution. He responded more forcefully to Panama’s declaration of war on the U.S. in 1989, and to Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990; American troops invaded Panama, removing dictator Manuel Noriega, and—as part of a 50-nation coalition—drove Iraqi troops out of Kuwait. Domestically, Bush oversaw a bailout of the savings and loan industry and, as part of a compromise with Congress, raised taxes in violation of his campaign promise. With the sudden apparent lack of international threats, the 1992 election focused on the economic issues, and Bush lost in a three-way election that saw only one state (Bill Clinton’s Arkansas) give any candidate a majority of its votes.

    Bush retired to Houston but continued to actively serve his country when called upon by subsequent presidents, regardless of party affiliation.

    George Bush died on November 30, 2018. Funeral services will be held in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, December 5, at 10:00 AM Central Time. Those wishing to watch the C-SPAN broadcast of the services are invited to gather in the library of the Presidential Archives at that time.

    As we remember George Bush, we are thankful for his example of what it means to be a Texan, to be an American, to be a son, a husband, and a father, to be a leader with honor, and to live a life of faithful service to others.

    Note: The Bush family’s home in Odessa is now owned by U.T. Permian Basin and located at the Presidential Archives, 4919 E. University, Odessa. The home is open 8:00-5:00, Monday through Friday.

  49. John Ben Shepperd: “Why We Are Here”

    Leave a Comment

    JBS at Medal of Honor Ceremony“Why We Are Here”

    On November 11, 1982, the Ector Country Independent School District held a ceremony in Odessa, Texas, honoring two district graduates—Alfred Wilson and Marvin Young—who had been posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for their service and sacrifice in Vietnam. Former Texas Attorney General John Ben Shepperd participated in the ceremony, reminding those in attendance of the reasons they had gathered on that day.

     

    We are here to honor the memory of two young Odessans whose superior courage was commemorated by the highest accolade a grateful country can bestow  . . .

    We are here to memorialize the other 57,690 brave men who gave their lives in Vietnam for a vital step in the preservation of mankind’s freedom . . .

    We are here to pay tribute to—and give our sacred assurance that we have not forgotten—the hundreds of thousands of other fine Americans who served the Colors in 10 wars . . .

    These are our heroes . . .

    . . . any civilization without heroes and respected leaders to look up to, will perish.

    We are here to commend the school board, our dynamic superintendent and his able staff for daring to add a unit of study on the significance of the Medal of Honor and Veterans Day.

    We are here to express our gratitude to these patriotic school officials—who pioneered and are leading the state in the teaching of American and Texas history . . . the cement that holds our society together. And for teaching free enterprise . . . the economic cornerstone of freedom . . . and for the teaching of responsible citizenship and patriotism . . . the greatest hope for our country is that our schools and communities will be so full of Americanism and patriotism . . . that there will be no room left for any other “’isms.”

    We are here to mark this Veterans Day by a re-dedication and re-affirmation to the great and unique principles for which those we honor fought . . . and too many gave their lives . . . and to shout from the housetops that because of men and women with the courage to honor, uphold and defend the American way of life . . . our individual and collective freedom is a monument to their sacrifices and everlasting glory.

    We are here to recognize that freedom is not free but must be earned anew by each generation and that our nation is founded on things that cannot be bought or sold . . . you cannot buy a family or friends . . . you can buy a house, but you can’t buy a home . . . hard cash will not purchase the proper upbringing and moral development of young Americans—like those here today who are the hope for our future . . . money can’t buy religion . . . free, stable, responsible government cannot be purchase.

    We are here to acknowledge our indebtedness to America’s Veterans because they bought insurance that has given us a free country

    . . . where we can live and work and enjoy the fruits of our labor . . .

    . . . where every Mother’s son or daughter is a future president . . .

    . . . where any young man or woman can start from scratch and become a millionaire . . .

    . . . where we are all free to rise to whatever heights God will lead us, and by our strength to strengthen others . . .

    Yes, we are here to assure our nation’s Veterans—here and gone—that because of what they did and the things they stood for . . . we understand

    . . .  that to be born a free American is an accident . . .

    . . . to live as a free American is a responsibility . . .

    . . . but to die a free American is an obligation . . . .

     

     

    [Note: The views expressed in this speech were those of John Ben Shepperd, and do not necessarily represent the views of the John Ben Shepperd Public Leadership Institute or the University of Texas Permian Basin.]