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John C. White: Wikis


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John Coyle White (November 26, 1924 - January 20, 1995) was an elected and appointed Democratic official from Texas. He was the longest-serving Texas Commissioner of Agriculture, first elected in 1951 and serving until 1977. He was the youngest person elected to statewide office in Texas. He was Deputy Secretary of Agriculture from 1977 - 1978 and was Chairman of the Democratic National Committee from 1978 to 1981.


Early years

White was born in Newport, Texas in Clay County on November 26, 1924. He was the son Ed White, a sharecropper. He graduated from Texas Tech University in 1946.

Texas agriculture commissioner

At the age of 25, White was elected statewide as the Agriculture Commissioner. He was the youngest person ever elected to statewide office in Texas.[1] He was re-elected to that high office 12 times, 26 1/2 years, and helped Texas in its difficult transition from an agricultural to a predominately urban economy.[1] White established marketing programs that served as models for other state governments and he was responsible for establishing a close working relationship with Mexican agricultural entities that had expanded markets for both countries.[2]

Deputy Secretary of Agriculture

In 1977, President Jimmy Carter nominated White to serve as Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. He was responsible for the implementation of national agriculture policy and was the chief U.S. representative in negotiations with foreign governments, including the Soviet Union, on grain agreements. White served during a period of great unrest among the nation's farmers. His calm and reasoned arbitration with disaffected groups resulted in several successful changes in U. S. farm policy.[1] White resigned his post in 1978, when President Carter tapped him to lead the Democratic National Committee.

Chairman of the Democratic National Committee

He helped the Democratic Party retain its Majority in the 1978 congressional elections. The Republicans took control of the presidency and the senate in the 1980 elections, however the Democrats did retain their majority in the United States House of Representatives under the leadership of Tip O'Neill. John White was DNC chairman at a time when Democrats controlled the White House, the Senate, the House of Representatives and a majority of governorships.

Death and burial

White died on January 20, 1995 in Washington, DC and was buried at the Texas State Cemetery in Austin, Texas.


Political offices
Preceded by
James E. McDonald
Texas Agriculture Commissioner
Succeeded by
Reagan V. Brown
Government offices
Preceded by
United States Deputy Secretary of Agriculture
1977 – 1978
Succeeded by
James H. Williams
Party political offices
Preceded by
Kenneth M. Curtis
Chairman of the Democratic National Committee
1978 – 1981
Succeeded by
Charles T. Manatt


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