Allan Shivers and Dwight D. Eisenhower
The personal and political relationship between President Eisenhower and Governor Shivers demonstrates the calculated decisions both made during the crisis at Mansfield High School. Shivers’ support for Eisenhower in the 1952 and 1956 presidential elections ensured that an important relationship would develop between two unlikely allies. Eisenhower’s position in favor of states’ rights, along with favoring Texas’ claim to the tidelands, convinced Shivers to support a Republican over the Democratic candidate Adlai Stevenson. Eisenhower went on to carry Texas in both elections and shared his gratitude with Shivers through frequent letter exchanges, meetings, and golfing trips.
The integration showdown at Mansfield High School prompted Shivers to send in Texas Rangers to maintain peace and avoid the integration of African-American students in defiance of court orders. The Eisenhower administration steered clear of any response that would have upheld court orders on integration in Mansfield. Not only did Eisenhower view Shivers’ actions as consistent with the powers of the Governor, but he also believed Shivers was able to prevent any acts of violence that would follow integration. Eisenhower would respond differently in the crisis at Little Rock, where he federalized the Arkansas National Guard and ensured the integration of Central High School. Eisenhower’s relationship with Shivers may have contributed to his lack of response in Mansfield and ensured a continued personal and political alliance.
Sarah Cunningham, Blerim Elmazi, Aaron Fichera