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D in the Heart of Texas             

Jerry T. Dealey

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The Dallas "Citizens Council" (Part 1)

Early History of Texas
The Europeans and American Settlers
John Neely Bryan – And Other Early Founders
Some Wheeling-Dealing to Grow a City
George Bannerman Dealey
The Dallas Morning News is Born
The Great 1908 Flood
G. B. Promotes Other Early Dallas Growth
The "City of Hate"
Building the ‘Subway’, Triple Underpass, Dealey Plaza
The Other Buildings Around Dealey Plaza
The Elder G. B. Dealey
The Dallas "Citizens Council"
The ‘Right Wing’ Direction of Dallas - "City of Hate" Revisited
A ‘Turn-Around’ for the Dallas Morning News
The Pre-November ‘Hate’ Incidents
Dallas’ Law Enforcement
November 1963, Why Dallas?
Dealey Plaza Changes To-Date

The State of Texas was planning a “Centennial Exposition” in 1936, to celebrate the 100-year anniversary of the formation of the Republic of Texas. Dallas had hosted a State Fair each year, and they had actually hosted two of them in 1886. It seemed to the Dallas leaders that it would only be logical to host the Centennial, which would give a major boost to the city in tourism, and in spreading the name of Dallas as a modern large city. One individual, Robert L. Thornton, would be the loudest voice in this movement.

Robert L. Thornton, who would later be known as “Mr. Dallas”, was the head of one of the “big three” banks in Dallas, the Mercantile. This was one of the leading banks that had financed the independent oilmen in the 1930 Texas Oil boom. (The other two banks were the Republic National Bank and the First National Bank.) R. L. Thornton was fiercely independent and aggressive, and would become the major leader of Dallas. He was also strongly right-wing, and believed in doing things that made Dallas grow. He was not a strong supporter of ‘liberal social programs’, but believed in doing anything that would help business.

Thornton rallied the city council and his civic colleagues to put together a proposal to the State of Texas that totaled over $7,500,000. It was the largest and best organized proposal the state saw, and even though Dallas was not even a settlement during the Texas revolution in 1836, they were awarded the Centennial Exposition in September of 1934. G. B. Dealey was also one of the leaders who encouraged the idea.

Viewing the success of the Exposition planning and execution, Robert L. Thornton formed the “Dallas Citizens Council” (DCC). It was an organization that would effectively ‘rule’ Dallas for the next 4 decades, until it was dissolved in the 1970’s. Membership in the council was by invitation only. It’s members and invitees were the chief executives of a firm doing business in Dallas. Not any chief executive would do, as Thornton only wanted executives who could essentially make immediate decisions on behalf of their firms and the money the firm controlled, without the red tape of acquiring approval from any other party. If your decisions required the approval of your Board of Directors, or other controlling body, chances are you would not be invited to join. Thornton wanted “Yes or No Men” who could make decisions, and commit funds at a moments notice. It would consist of 100 of these executive leaders.

Thornton’s purpose of the Dallas Citizens Council was to promote Dallas’ profitability and increase the “Bottom Line” for the companies doing business there. The building blocks of these programs were: Social Programs were expensive and avoided whenever possible, Labor Unions were busted whenever possible and to sell Dallas to every company that they could. Basically, if it did not contribute to the ability to attract business and dollars to the city, they would not do it! Again, the city social welfare and arts of the city were left to the High Society women, and other “do-gooders”.

IE150-1.GIF - 6031 BytesD in the Heart of Texas - Table of Contents
03LEFT.JPG - 1910 Bytes The Elder G. B. Dealey
03RIGHT.JPG - 1880 Bytes The Dallas "Citizens Council" (Part 2)

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Last edited June 3, 2003