Duval County Democratic leader shot, opening door for Parr dynasty

December 20th, 1907

On this day in 1907, Duval County tax assessor and Democratic leader John Cleary was killed by a shotgun blast while sitting in a San Diego restaurant. His assassin escaped as local lawmen were enjoying a fiesta, which they claimed had drowned out the sound of the shooting. Texas Rangers later arrested three men in connection with the assassination, but they were never convicted. Cleary's assassination came shortly after he had engineered a sweeping guarache triumph over the bota faction in the county elections, and opened the Duval County Democratic leadership to Archer Parr, thereby beginning perhaps the most remarkable and notorious political dynasty in Texas. Under the firm control of Archer Parr and his son George, the "Duke of Duval," the county gained a reputation for political corruption that peaked with Lyndon B. Johnson's election to the United States Senate in 1948, in which George Parr almost certainly directed the manipulation of returns that gave Johnson his eighty-seven-vote victory.

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Duval County Democratic leader shot, opening door for Parr dynasty

December 20th, 1907

On this day in 1907, Duval County tax assessor and Democratic leader John Cleary was killed by a shotgun blast while sitting in a San Diego restaurant. His assassin escaped as local lawmen were enjoying a fiesta, which they claimed had drowned out the sound of the shooting. Texas Rangers later arrested three men in connection with the assassination, but they were never convicted. Cleary's assassination came shortly after he had engineered a sweeping guarache triumph over the bota faction in the county elections, and opened the Duval County Democratic leadership to Archer Parr, thereby beginning perhaps the most remarkable and notorious political dynasty in Texas. Under the firm control of Archer Parr and his son George, the "Duke of Duval," the county gained a reputation for political corruption that peaked with Lyndon B. Johnson's election to the United States Senate in 1948, in which George Parr almost certainly directed the manipulation of returns that gave Johnson his eighty-seven-vote victory.

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With more than 27,000 articles about Texas history, the Texas State Historical Association's Handbook of Texas is the largest online encyclopedia about all things Texas. Now you can celebrate the history of Texas every day by activating your free subscription to Texas Day by Day. Each day's email tells a little bit more of the story of Texas and links to our collection of more than 27,000 articles. It's one of the best ways to learn more about Texas history — in only 15 minutes a day!

Activate your free subscription to Texas Day by Day and you can:

  • Explore Texas history each day in bite-sized pieces conveniently delivered to your inbox each morning
  • Astound your friends with your Texas history prowess
  • Get in-depth looks at some of the overlooked events and landmarks in Texas history
  • Discover new places to explore in the Lone Star State
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