On this day in 1947, the Big Inch and Little Big Inch, two strategic pipelines laid during World War II from East Texas to the Northeast, were sold by the U.S. government to a private company. Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes realized as early as 1940 that shipment of petroleum to the Northeast by tankers would be impossible in time of war because of German submarines. In 1941, at Ickes's urging, oil industry executives began to plan the building of two pipelines. One, twenty-four inches in diameter, called the Big Inch, transported crude oil. The other, twenty inches in diameter, called the Little Big Inch, transported refined products. The Big Inch ran from Longview to Southern Illinois, thence to Phoenixville, Pennsylvania. Twenty-inch lines continued from there to New York City and Philadelphia. The Little Big Inch began in the refinery complex between Houston and Port Arthur and ended in Linden, New Jersey. Together the pipelines carried over 350 million barrels of crude oil and refined products to the East Coast before the war in Europe ended in August 1945.
On this day in 1954, the Cuero Record published an article by its managing editor, Roland Kenneth Towery, revealing violations of the intent and purpose of the Veterans' Land Program through fraud and bribery. Towery's story, and those which followed, won a Pulitzer Prize in 1955 for distinguished reporting of local affairs. They also set off intensive statewide media reporting and accelerated an investigation begun in October by the office of the attorney general under John Ben Shepperd (who was a member of the Veterans' Land Board at the time of the investigation), the Texas Department of Public Safety under Homer Garrison, the state auditor's office, and the Senate General Investigating Committee. Governor Allan Shivers, as a member of the Veterans' Land Board, was also actively involved in the investigation. Once investigations were begun, numerous charges were filed against various people accused of taking part in the improper use of state monies and violating veterans' personal rights. Twenty people were indicted in nine counties, and Bascom Giles, commissioner of the General Land Office and chairman of the board of the Veterans' Land Board, became the first elected state official to enter prison for a crime committed while in office.
On this day in 1972, former congressman Martin Dies died in Lufkin. His father, also named Martin Dies, was an outspoken nativist and opponent of woman suffrage who served in Congress from 1909 to 1919. The younger Dies, born in Colorado City in 1900, was elected to Congress in 1930 and gained fame as the first chairman of the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), established in 1938 to investigate subversion. Dies ran against Lyndon B. Johnson for a Senate seat in 1941, finishing last in a four-way race. During World War II he became a leader of the anti-Roosevelt, anti-union Texas Regulars, but announced his retirement in 1944 after the Congress of Industrial Organizations launched a vast voter-registration drive and found a candidate to oppose him. In 1952 he won election to a new congressman-at-large seat, but he was not allowed to return to the HUAC, which believed that he had damaged the cause of anticommunism. He finished second to Ralph Yarborough in the 1957 special election to fill the Senate seat of Price Daniel, Sr. After declining to run for reelection to Congress in 1958, Dies continued to warn that the United States was succumbing to communism.