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Gerald Anthony "Jerry" Sadler
23rd Commissioner of the General Land Office

In office
1961–1971
Governor Price Daniel (1961-1963)

John B. Connally, Jr. (1963-1969) Preston E. Smith (1969-1971)

Preceded by Bill Alcorn
Succeeded by Robert L. Armstrong
Texas State Representative from Anderson County

In office
1955–1961
Preceded by James Paxton
Succeeded by Rayford Price
Texas Railroad Commissioner

In office
1939–1942
Preceded by Charles Vernon Terrell
Succeeded by Beauford Jester
Personal details
Born (1907-09-08)September 8, 1907
Near Palestine
Anderson County
Texas, USA
Died February 25, 1982(1982-02-25) (aged 74)
Resting place Texas State Cemetery in Austin, Texas
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Laura Jones Sadler
Residence Austin, Texas
Military service
Allegiance United States
Service/branch  United States Army
Years of service 1927-1929; 1942-1942
Rank Lieutenant colonel
Battles/wars World War II

Gerald Anthony Sadler, known as Jerry Sadler (September 8, 1907 – February 25, 1982), was a Democratic politician from the U.S. state of Texas. He was a member of the Texas House of Representatives from 1955 to 1961, the Texas Railroad Commission from 1938 to 1942, and the Commissioner of the General Land Office from 1961 to 1971.

Early years[]

Sadler was born near Palestine in Anderson County in East Texas. He served in the United States Army 12th Cavalry from 1927 to 1929 at Fort Brown in Brownsville in Cameron County, Texas.

Political career and wartime service[]

In 1938, Sadler was elected to the Texas Railroad Commission. One of his colleagues on the regulatory body was Ernest O. Thompson, the former mayor of Amarillo known as an expert on oil and natural gas policy. Sadler resigned from the commission in 1942 to enter the U.S. Army once again. He served during World War II in the Persian Gulf command and was honorably discharged in 1945 at the rank of lieutenant colonel.

After the war, Sadler returned to Anderson County. In the 1946 gubernatorial election, Sadler ran for the Democratic nomination, but was defeated by his successor on the Railroad Commission, Beauford H. Jester of Corsicana in Navarro County. He then was elected to the Texas House in 1954 (term 1/11/1955 - 1/8/1957). He was twice re-elected, serving to January 10, 1961.[1] In Spring 1957 Sadler was apprised by an employee of the University of Texas at Austin that a young black woman, Barbara Smith Conrad, had been cast to sing the role of Dido in Henry Purcell's "Dido and Aeneas" at UT Austin. At a legislator's breakfast, Mr. Sadler complained of the mixed-race casting, prompting another legislator, Joe Chapman, to telephone the president of the University, Logan Wilson, and threaten to withhold funding should Ms. Smith perform. Mr. Wilson had her removed from the cast, provoking protests and national news coverage. When interviewed by the Houston Post Mr. Sadler said of his breakfast remarks, "I mentioned appropriations and as a matter of fact [I] voted against those for the university because they have Negro undergraduates.” Ms. Smith graduated UT in 1959 and later gained international renown as an operatic star.[2]

After he represented Anderson County in the Texas House for six years, Sadler was elected in 1960 as the state Land Commissioner, a position that he held for a decade. In 1962, Sadler opposed Senator Ralph Yarborough’s plans to create a National Seashore at South Padre Island. Sadler claimed that a National Seashore that took over state-owned tidelands would prohibit the removal of oil and natural gas and thus deprive Texas of millions of dollars in revenues that would otherwise contribute to the Permanent School Fund. Using emotionally charged phrases such as "summarily stripped of such great wealth," Commissioner Sadler persuaded Governor Price Daniel, Sr., to appoint a statewide committee to study the feasibility of a state park in place of the National Seashore.

Ultimately, the Padre Island National Seashore was designated. Ironically, Padre Island would provide the setting for the final phase of Sadler’s tenure as Land Commissioner. Starting in 1968, Sadler was involved with the Platoro company of Indiana, which was dredging along the Gulf Coast near South Padre Island and found the wreck of a Spanish galleon. Platoro kept the treasures, which were removed to Indiana. When Sadler’s name was linked to the company, he went on an offensive demanding accountings from the company, but his involvement became a brewing scandal.

In 1969, State Representative Jake Johnson of San Antonio held a press conference demanding the return of the Spanish treasure. "At the conference, Sadler ended up holding Johnson in a choke hold as a radio reporter stuck a microphone in his face and asked him for comment. 'The land commissioner is choking me,' Johnson replied." [3]

Jerry Sadler monument at Texas State Cemetery in Austin, Texas

The following year, State Representative Bob Armstrong of Austin defeated Sadler in the Democratic primary and went on to hold that position for twelve years.

Sadler died in 1982. He was survived by his wife, the former Laura Jones (born August 24, 1920). He is like Armstrong interred at Texas State Cemetery in Austin.

References[]

  1. http://www.lrl.state.tx.us/mobile/memberDisplay.cfm?memberID=1107 Accessed June 17, 2017.
  2. William Grimes, "Barbara Smith Conrad, Singer at Center of Integration Dispute, Dies at 79," The New York Times, May 24, 2017. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/24/arts/music/barbara-smith-conrad-dead-mezzo-soprano-broke-race-barrier.html?_r=0 Accessed 19 June 2017.
  3. San Antonio Express-News, March 1, 2007
Political offices
Preceded by
Charles Vernon Terrell
Texas Railroad Commissioner
1939-1942
Succeeded by
Beauford H. Jester
Unrecognised parameter
Preceded by
James Paxton
Member of the Texas House of Representatives
from District 27 (Palestine)

1955–1961
Succeeded by
Rayford Price
Preceded by
Bill Alcorn
Commissioner of the General Land Office
1961–1971
Succeeded by
Bob Armstrong

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