World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

John Tower

Article Id: WHEBN0000470063
Reproduction Date:

Title: John Tower  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Phil Gramm, Tower Commission, Barry Goldwater, John C. Stennis, Ralph Yarborough
Collection: 1925 Births, 1991 Deaths, Accidental Deaths in Georgia (U.S. State), Alumni of the London School of Economics, American Academics, American Memoirists, American Methodists, American Military Personnel of World War II, People from Beaumont, Texas, People from Dallas, Texas, People from Houston, Texas, People from Wichita Falls, Texas, Rejected or Withdrawn Nominees to the United States Executive Cabinet, Republican Party United States Senators, Southern Methodist University Alumni, Southwestern University Alumni, Sparkman-Hillcrest Memorial Park Cemetery Burials, Texas Republicans, United States Navy Personnel, United States Senators from Texas, Victims of Aviation Accidents or Incidents in the United States
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

John Tower

John Tower
Chairperson of the President's Intelligence Advisory Board
In office
Preceded by Anne Armstrong
Succeeded by Bobby Inman
Chairperson of the Senate Armed Services Committee
In office
January 3, 1981 – January 3, 1985
Preceded by John Stennis
Succeeded by Barry Goldwater
United States Senator
from Texas
In office
June 15, 1961 – January 3, 1985
Preceded by William Blakley
Succeeded by Phil Gramm
Personal details
Born John Goodwin Tower
(1925-09-29)September 29, 1925
Houston, Texas, U.S.
Died April 5, 1991(1991-04-05) (aged 65)
Political party Democratic (Before 1951)
Republican (1951–1991)
Spouse(s) Joza Lou Bullington (1952–1976)
Lilla Burt Cummings (1977–1987)
Children Penny
Alma mater Southwestern University
Southern Methodist University
London School of Economics
Religion United Methodism
Military service
Allegiance  United States
Service/branch  United States Navy
Years of service 1943–1989
Rank Master chief petty officer
Unit United States Navy Reserve
Battles/wars World War II
 • Pacific Theater

John Goodwin Tower (September 29, 1925 – April 5, 1991) was the first Secretary of Defense in 1989 but was rejected by the Senate, 53–47.


  • Early life, education, and military service 1
  • Family life in Wichita Falls, Texas 2
  • Rise to the Senate 3
  • United States Senate 4
  • Quarrels with conservatives 5
  • Subsequent elections 6
  • Post-senate career 7
  • Death 8
  • References 9
    • General 9.1
  • External links 10

Early life, education, and military service

Tower was born in Houston to Joe Z. Tower (1898–1970) and Beryl Tower (1898–1990). Joe Tower was a Methodist, later United Methodist, minister, and John traveled wherever his father was named by the denominational conference to pastor a church. He attended public schools in East Texas and graduated in Beaumont, the seat of Jefferson County, in southeast Texas in the spring of 1942.

Tower was active in politics as a child; at the age of thirteen, he passed out handbills for the campaign of Williamson County near Austin) that same year and met future U.S. President and political opponent Lyndon Johnson on a campus visit while Johnson was the local congressman.

Tower left college in the summer of 1943 to serve in the

Party political offices
Preceded by
Carlos Watson
Republican nominee for U.S. Senator from Texas
(Class 2)

1960, 1961, 1966, 1972, 1978
Succeeded by
Phil Gramm
Preceded by
George Murphy
Chairperson of the National Republican Senatorial Committee
Succeeded by
Peter Dominick
Preceded by
Gordon Allott
Chairperson of the Senate Republican Policy Committee
Succeeded by
William Armstrong
United States Senate
Preceded by
William Blakley
U.S. Senator (Class 2) from Texas
Served alongside: Ralph Yarborough, Lloyd Bentsen
Succeeded by
Phil Gramm
Preceded by
John Stennis
Chairperson of the Senate Armed Services Committee
Succeeded by
Barry Goldwater
Honorary titles
Preceded by
Anne Armstrong
Baby of the Senate
Succeeded by
Bobby Inman
Government offices
Preceded by
Frank Church
Chairperson of the President's Intelligence Advisory Board
Succeeded by
Maurice Murphy
  • John Tower at the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress Retrieved on 2008-02-08
  • Handbook of Texas article on John Tower
  • Oral History Interviews with John Tower, from the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library
  • Southwestern University and SMU's John G. Tower Digital Media Collection contains videos and audios by John Tower throughout his career.
  • , June 30, 1991.Consequences: John G. Tower, A Personal and Political Memoir interview with Roger Gittines on Booknotes
  • John G. Tower Papers – Official repository for John Tower's Senate and personal papers, Special Collections, Southwestern University.
  • Speech by John Tower given on November 11, 1970. Audio recording. From the University of Alabama's Emphasis Symposium on Contemporary Issues.
  • Brunswick, GA Commuter Plane Crash Kills John Tower, Sonny Carter, and 21 others, Apr 1991 Article at

External links


  1. ^ John G. Tower Award Winners, p14
  2. ^ Biographical Sketch of John Goodwin Tower, Southwestern University (retrieved on September 25, 2008)
  3. ^
  4. ^ Rupert Norval Richardson, Ernest Wallace, and Adrian N. Anderson, Texas: The Lone Star State (Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 1970) p. 369.
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ Billy Hathorn, "Mayor Ernest Angelo, Jr. of Midland and the 96-0 Reagan Sweep of Texas, May 1, 1976," West Texas Historical Association Yearbook Vol. 86 (2010), p. 85
  8. ^ Laredo Morning Times, May 2, 1976
  9. ^ Hathorn, "Mayor Ernest Angelo", pg. 86
  10. ^ "Convention Notes: No love lost between Texans, Betty Ford", Dallas Morning News, August 19, 1976, pg. 6A
  11. ^
  12. ^ John G. Tower, Consequendes: A Personal and Political Memoir, Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1990, pg. 208
  13. ^
  14. ^ a b c
  15. ^
  16. ^


On April 5, 1991, Tower and his middle daughter, Marian, and the propeller control failure. Tower and his daughter are buried together at the family plot of the Sparkman-Hillcrest Memorial Park Cemetery in Dallas. A cenotaph in Tower's honor was erected at the Texas State Cemetery in Austin. Tower's personal and political life are chronicled in his autobiography, Consequences: A Personal and Political Memoir, published a few months before his death. He donated his papers to his alma mater, Southwestern University.[16]

John Tower cenotaph at the Texas State Cemetery in Austin, Texas


After Tower's defeat, he was instead named chairman of the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board. Dick Cheney, then a Representative from Wyoming and the House Minority Whip, was later confirmed as Secretary of Defense.

In response to the alcohol allegations, Tower told The New York Times in 1990: "Have I ever drunk to excess? Yes. Am I alcohol-dependent? No. Have I always been a good boy? Of course not. But I've never done anything disqualifying. That's the point."[14]

As The New York Times reported in his obituary: "Mr. Tower's repudiation by his former colleagues, who rejected him as President Bush's nominee for Secretary of Defense after public allegations of womanizing and heavy drinking, left a bitterness that could not be assuaged. In the normally clubby Senate, Mr. Tower was regarded by some colleagues as a gut fighter who did not suffer fools gladly, and some lawmakers indicated that they were only too pleased to rebuke him."[14]

In 1989, Tower was President George H. W. Bush's choice to become Secretary of Defense. But in a stunning move — particularly given that Tower was himself a former Senate colleague — the United States Senate rejected his nomination. The largest factors were concern about possible conflicts of interest and Tower's personal life, in particular allegations of alcohol abuse and womanizing[13][14] The Senate vote was 47–53,[15] and it marked the first time that the Senate had rejected a Cabinet nominee of a newly elected president.

In November 1986, President Reagan asked Tower to chair the President's Special Review Board to study the action of the National Security Council and its staff during the Iran-Contra Affair. The board, which became known as the Tower Commission, issued its report on February 26, 1987. The report was highly critical of the Reagan administration and of the National Security Council's dealings with both Iran and the Nicaraguan Contras.

Tower retired from the Senate after nearly twenty-four years in office. He continued to be involved in national politics, advising the campaigns of Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush. Two weeks after his leaving office, Tower was named chief United States negotiator at the Strategic Arms Reduction Talks in Geneva, Switzerland. Tower resigned from this office in 1987, and for a time was a professor at Southern Methodist University. He became a consultant with Tower, Eggers, and Greene Consulting from 1987 until his death in 1991.

Tower delivers the Tower Report to President Reagan in the White House Cabinet Room, Edmund Muskie at right, 1987.

Post-senate career

In 1978, Tower ran in a close campaign. He edged out Democratic Congressman Robert Krueger of New Braunfels in Comal County in the Hill Country, 1,151,376 (50.3% of two-party vote) to 1,139,149 (49.7% of two-party vote). Tower's plurality over Krueger was 12,227 votes, but because there were another 22,015 votes cast for other nominal contenders, Tower prevailed with less than 50% of the total vote. This was the campaign in which Tower refused to shake Krueger's hand at a candidate forum on grounds that his opponent had spread untruths about Tower's personal life. (Krueger later served in the Senate on an interim appointment from Governor Ann Richards from January to June 1993.)

In 1974, Tower supported the Republican former mayor of Lubbock Jim Granberry for governor. Granberry had defeated "New Right" candidate Odell McBrayer in the party primary but was then crushed by incumbent Governor Dolph Briscoe. It was a disastrous Republican year, both nationally and in Texas.

In 1972, Tower defeated United States Attorney General Ramsey Clark, who donated $2,000 to the Sanders campaign."[12]

Tower was reelected three times – in 1966, 1972, and 1978, all of which were good years for Republican candidates. In 1966, Tower defeated Democratic Attorney General Waggoner Carr of Lubbock, 842,501 (56.7%) to 643,855 (43.3%). Despite the victory, Tower lost the majority of the state's rural districts. He won every county that cast more than 10,000 votes except for McLennan County (Waco) in central Texas. In numerous counties, the 1961 or the 1966 Tower election was the first in which that county had supported a Republican candidate. In 1968 and 1972, Tower recruited his friend and later business associate Paul Eggers of Wichita Falls as the Republican gubernatorial nominee. Despite energetic but underfunded campaigns, Eggers lost both races to the Democrat Preston Smith of Lubbock.

John Tower in 1983

Subsequent elections

Tower developed a close relationship with John McCain, who was then a Navy liaison to the Senate. Tower was instrumental in helping McCain win his first election to the U.S. House by raising money and obtaining support from Arizona Republicans.[11] However, the two were never Senate colleagues; Tower left the Senate two years before McCain entered the upper chamber.

By virtue of their primary defeat, the Texas Ford supporters were shut out of the national convention in Kansas City. Angelo recalls Tower as having "begged" for a delegate slot because he was a U.S. senator and was supposed to be the Ford floor leader at the convention. Angelo said that Tower could have been a delegate if he were to support Reagan, an impossible condition for Tower because of his early commitment to President Ford. Tower hence was not a delegate to the 1976 convention because Angelo was mindful that a close convention showdown could have been decided by a handful of delegate votes. Angelo said that he always personally liked and admired Tower though they disagreed on some issues: "John was the best extemporaneous speaker and solid as a rock on most issues." Tower had campaigned for Angelo in the latter's unsuccessful race in 1968 for the Texas State Senate. As time passed though, Tower alienated the conservative wing of his party with his support for legalised abortion and opposition to Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative.[9] Barbara Staff, the Reagan co-chairman for Dallas County and North Texas, recalls that Tower spent much of his time at the convention with the closely divided Mississippi delegation and did not address the phalanx of Reagan backers in his own state's delegation. Among the Reagan backers was Betty Andujar of Fort Worth, the first Republican woman to serve in the State Senate.[10]

Once considered a solid Wallace leaders, made a concerted and obviously successful effort to get the Wallace vote in the Republican primary. In addition, some section of Ford's defense and foreign policy alienated some voters who may otherwise have cast their ballot for the president."[8]

Tower quarreled with State Senator Henry Grover of Houston, the 1972 Republican gubernatorial nominee, to such an extent that the intraparty divisions may have contributed to Grover's 100,000-vote defeat by Democrat Dolph Briscoe of Uvalde, even as Tower was winning a third Senate term by nearly 311,000 votes.

Quarrels with conservatives

In the Senate, Tower was assigned to two major committees: the Labor and Public Welfare Committee and the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. Tower left the Labor and Public Welfare Committee in 1964, although in 1965 he was named to the Senate Armed Services Committee, in which he served until his retirement. He was chairman of the Armed Services Committee from 1981 to 1984. Tower also served on the Joint Committee on Defense Production from 1963 until 1977 and on the Senate Republican Policy Committee in 1962 and from 1969 until 1984. Tower served as chairman of the latter from 1973 until his retirement from the Senate. As a member and later chairman of the Armed Services Committee, Tower was a strong proponent of modernizing the armed forces. In the Banking and Currency Committee, he was a champion of small businesses and worked to improve the national infrastructure and financial institutions. Tower supported Texas economic interests, working to improve the business environment of the energy, agricultural, and fishing and maritime sectors.

During his first term, Tower was the only Republican Senator from the South until the defection in 1964 of Strom Thurmond of South Carolina. Tower was a leading opponent of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.[6]

United States Senate

The final total was 448,217 votes (50.6 percent) for Tower and 437,872 (49.4 percent) for Blakely, a margin of 10,343 ballots.

  • (1) The first Republican U.S. senator from Texas since Reconstruction
  • (2) The first Republican elected to any statewide office from Texas since Reconstruction
  • (3) The third Republican from the former Confederacy since Reconstruction
  • (4) The first Republican from a former Confederate state since Newell Sanders of Tennessee left office in 1913 (a gap of forty-eight years)
  • (5) The first Republican from the former Confederacy ever to win a Senate seat by popular election.

With help from his friend Peter O'Donnell, the Dallas County Republican chairman and later the state party chairman during most of the 1960s, Tower won the runoff election against Blakley. His election was historic:

In his second Senate campaign in a matter of months, Tower charged that the national Democratic Party, represented by Kennedy and Johnson, was far to the Left-wing politics of typical Texas Democrats. The initial round of voting in the special election gave Tower 327,308 votes (30.9 percent) to Blakely's 191,818 (18.1 percent). The other contenders were Democrats Jim Wright, a congressman from Fort Worth and a future U.S. House Speaker, 171,328 (16.2 percent), state Attorney General Will Wilson (who later became a Republican and served in the Nixon Justice Department), 121,961 (11.5 percent), former state representative and liberal lawyer Maury Maverick, Jr., of San Antonio, 104,922 (9.9 percent), and then state Senator (and future Congressman) Henry B. Gonzalez, also of San Antonio, 97,659 (9.2 percent). There were some sixty-five other candidates, enticed by a filing fee at the time of only $50 for special elections, who polled a total of 4.2 percent of the vote.

Johnson became Vice President, and Governor Price Daniel, Sr., appointed fellow Democrat William A. Blakley of Dallas to Johnson's Senate seat, pending a special election to be held in May 1961. Blakley, a conservative Democrat, had also been appointed by Daniel in 1957 to succeed Daniel in the Senate when Daniel was elected governor. Considerable numbers of liberal Texas Democrats opposed the conservative Blakely and did not vote. The conservative vote was divided. Texas conservatives, traditionally "yellow dog Democrats", had already voted for Republicans in the 1950s, when Democratic Governor Allan Shivers had aligned with Eisenhower, rather than the national Democratic candidate Adlai E. Stevenson, in a movement that was jokingly called "Shivercrats".

Johnson, the incumbent senator and famous nationwide as the Senate Majority Leader, won the election against Tower. As John F. Kennedy's running mate, Johnson was also seeking the vice presidency in the same election. Tower's campaign slogan was "double your pleasure, double your fun — vote against Johnson two times, not one."[5] Tower was supported by prominent Democratic former Governor Coke Stevenson of Junction in Kimble County, the loser by eighty-seven disputed votes to Johnson in the 1948 Democratic Senate primary runoff. Tower polled 927,653 votes (41.1 percent) to Johnson's 1,306,605 votes (58 percent), better than Republicans usually fared in Texas at that time.

Although raised as a Southern Democrat, Tower became a Republican in college about 1951. He rose quickly through the ranks of the Texas Republican Party; he was an unsuccessful candidate for representative to the Texas House of Representatives for the 81st district in 1954. He was a delegate to the 1956 Republican National Convention. In the 1956 presidential election, he was the campaign manager for Dwight D. Eisenhower in the 23rd Senatorial District. In 1960, he was chosen by the state convention held in McAllen in Hidalgo County in south Texas, as the Republican candidate for the United States Senate against Lyndon Johnson. Two other Republicans mentioned for the senatorial nomination, Thad Hutcheson, who had sought Texas's other Senate seat in a special election in 1957, and Bruce Alger, the only Republican congressman from Texas at the time, were both uninterested.[4]

Rise to the Senate

Following his divorce from Lou, who remained single for the rest of her life, Tower married Lilla Burt Cummings in 1977. The couple separated in 1985 and divorced on July 2, 1986.

During his time in Wichita Falls, Tower established his core political relationships, including Pierce Langford, III, a key figure in the financing of the British offshore pirate radio stations created between 1964 and 1967 by Don Pierson of Eastland, Texas. While at the London School of Economics, Tower put in an appearance at the offices of Swinging Radio England on Curzon Street.

John and Lou Tower had three children during their years in Wichita Falls born in three consecutive years: Penny (1954), Marian (1955–1991), and Jeanne (1956). The couple divorced in 1976.

Family life in Wichita Falls, Texas

In 1949, he moved to Dallas to take graduate courses at Orville Bullington, a Wichita Falls lawyer, was the unsuccessful Republican gubernatorial nominee in 1932 against former Governor Miriam Ferguson and a leader of the Robert A. Taft forces in Texas in 1952. Orville Bullington was also an uncle by marriage of the Midland Republican figure Frank Kell Cahoon, a Wichita Falls native who was the only Republican in the Texas House of Representatives in the 1965 legislative session. At that time, Cahoon and Tower were the only Republican legislators in the whole state of Texas.[3]

[2], northeast of Austin, during college and for some time afterward. Tower remained in the Naval Reserve and achieved the rank of Master Chief Petty Officer, having retired from the military in 1989.Taylor station in Country music announcer for a radio Tower worked as a [1]

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Hawaii eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.