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The University of Texas at Austin


Texas House Speakers Oral History Project -
Waggoner Carr

63rd Speaker

Waggoner Carr (official portrait). Carrie Frnka Estate Collection, Texas State Library and Archives Commission; #2002/130-.

Waggoner Carr (official portrait). Carrie Frnka Estate Collection, Texas State Library and Archives Commission; #2002/130-.

Presided over

The 55th Legislature's regular session, January 8 to May 23, 1957; the 55th Legislature's first called session, October 14 November 12, 1957; and the 55th Legislature's second called session, November 13 to December 3, 1957.

The 56th Legislature's regular session, January 13 to May 12, 1959; the 56th Legislature's first called session, May 18 to June 16, 1959; the 56th Legislature's second called session, June 17 to July 16, 1959; and the 56th Legislature's third called session, July 17 to August 6, 1959.

Born in the small town of Fairlie in Hunt County in 1918, Waggoner Carr moved with his family at age 14 to Lubbock, where the future state attorney general graduated from Lubbock High School and Texas Technical College. Carr served in the United States Army Air Corps during World War II and, following his military service, earned his law degree from the University of Texas at Austin.

In 1948, Carr became district attorney in Lubbock, and served as county attorney the following year. He was first elected to the state House of Representatives in 1950, winning election as speaker in 1957. He won a second term as speaker two years later.

His speakership saw passage of the Texas Water Development Board, authorized by the Legislature to issue up to $200 million in water development bonds to assist local water projects. Other measures passed during his speakership included a constitutional amendment authorizing creation of a state office to promote Texas tourism, a rewrite of the state's juvenile crime laws, and approval of a new code of ethics for legislators and lobbyists. A history buff, Carr also secured passage of legislation financing a new state Library and Archives building.

Carr failed in his first race for state attorney general in 1960, but won the office in 1962 and again in 1964. During his time as state attorney general, he conducted a state investigation of the November 22, 1963 assassination of President John Kennedy in Dallas, Texas.

Carr lost races for the United States Senate in 1966 and for Texas governor in 1968 and then retired from public office. Carr and his wife Ernestine Story Carr lived in Austin, where he practiced law with the firm of DeLeon & Boggins. He served on the Texas Tech Board of Regents from 1969 to 1972.

Carr was found not guilty of charges stemming from the Sharpstown bank bribery scandal in 1974 and subsequently wrote of his experiences in the 1977 book Waggoner Carr: Not Guilty! Carr also authored a political memoir Texas Politics in My Rearview Mirror, published in 1993. Carr was writing a book on the outlaw Jesse James and another on Texas attorney generals since 1875 when he died from cancer in 2004.

view annotated bibliography