Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Presidents of the Republic of Texas

The Republic of Texas was formed in 1836. In the midst of the Texas Revolution, Texan settlers elected delegates to the Convention of 1836, which issued the Texas Declaration of Independence and elected David G. Burnet as interim president of the new country. In May 1836 Burnet and Mexican dictator Antonio López de Santa Anna, who was at the time a Texan prisoner-of-war, signed the Treaties of Velasco officially recognizing Texas's break from Mexico.

The president of the Republic of Texas was the head of state and head of government while Texas was an independent republic between 1836 and 1845. The president served as the commander-in-chief of the Texas Military Forces. Four men served as President of the Republic, and one, Sam Houston, served two nonconsecutive terms.

Burial Location
Apr 14, 1788 – Dec 5, 1870
Galveston, TX
Mar 2, 1793 – July 26, 1863
Huntsville, TX
Aug 16, 1798 – Dec 19, 1859
Richmond, TX
Jan 20, 1798 – Jan 9, 1858
Houston, TX

David Gouverneur Burnet
April 14, 1788 – December 5, 1870
In office:
March 16, 1836 - October 22, 1836 (Interim)
David G. Burnet was a complex figure in Texas history. Born in New Jersey in 1788 to a prominent family, he struggled to find his way after an early attempt at a filibustering expedition to Venezuela. He practiced law, became an empresario, and entered Texas politics.

Burnet's conservative views often clashed with popular sentiment in Texas. He served as the interim president of the Republic of Texas in 1836, a tumultuous time marked by conflict with Sam Houston. Later, he was elected vice president under Mirabeau Lamar. He failed in his bid for the presidency in 1841 and opposed Texas annexation to the United States.

Despite his political disappointments, Burnet briefly served as Texas's Secretary of State. After the Civil War, in which he lost his son, Burnet was elected to the US Senate but was denied his seat due to Reconstruction political barriers.

Burnet's life was marked by personal tragedy and a string of professional disappointments. He died in Galveston in 1870 and was largely forgotten until later historical recognition.

Sam Houston
March 2, 1793 – July 26, 1863
In office:
October 22, 1836 - December 10, 1838
December 13, 1841 - December 9, 1844
Sam Houston was a legendary figure in Texas history. Born in Virginia in 1793, he had a troubled youth but found kinship with the Cherokee Indians, earning the name "the Raven". He later became a successful lawyer, military leader, and politician in Tennessee.

After a brief and mysterious failed marriage, Houston sought a new life in Texas in 1832. He quickly became a leader in the Texas Revolution, commanding forces at the decisive battle of San Jacinto in 1836, where he defeated Santa Anna and secured Texas independence.

Houston served two terms as President of the Republic of Texas. He promoted peace with Native American tribes, fiscal responsibility, and sought annexation to the United States. After annexation, Houston became one of Texas's first US Senators, serving from 1846 to 1859.

A staunch defender of the Union, Houston's anti-slavery views put him at odds with many Southern politicians. He lost his Senate seat after opposing the Kansas-Nebraska Act. He was elected governor of Texas in 1859 but again found himself on the losing side when Texas seceded from the Union. Refusing to pledge allegiance to the Confederacy, he was removed from office.

Sam Houston died in Huntsville, Texas, in 1863. His legacy as a complex and controversial figure, dedicated to both Texas and the Union, remains a cornerstone of the state's history.

Mirabeau Buonaparte Lamar
August 16, 1798 – December 19, 1859
In office:
December 10, 1838 - December 13, 1841
Mirabeau B. Lamar, the second president of the Republic of Texas, was born in Georgia in 1798. As a young man, he dabbled in various pursuits, including journalism and politics. He suffered personal losses, including the death of his wife and daughter. In 1835, inspired by the Texan fight for independence, Lamar relocated to Texas.

Lamar quickly distinguished himself in the Texas Revolution. He bravely fought in the Battle of San Jacinto and served as Secretary of War in the fledgling republic's government. He was elected vice president in 1836.

When Sam Houston's term as president ended, Lamar was elected to the position in 1838. His ambitious vision for Texas differed greatly from Houston's. Lamar opposed annexation to the United States and dreamed of expanding Texas into a vast empire. He aggressively drove Native American tribes out of Texas and sought to establish diplomatic connections with European powers.

Lamar also advocated tirelessly for public education in Texas, earning him the title of "Father of Texas Education." However, his grand plans, coupled with risky ventures like the Santa Fe Expedition, strained the young republic's finances. By the end of his presidency in 1841, Texas was near bankruptcy.

Despite setbacks, Lamar continued to serve Texas. He fought in the Mexican-American War and later represented Texas in the legislature. In 1857 he was appointed as the US Minister to Nicaragua and Costa Rica.

Lamar, a complex man of talent and ambition, died in 1859. His legacy is marked by his instrumental role in Texas history and his passionate, though sometimes impractical, vision for the young republic.

Anson Jones
January 20, 1798 – January 9, 1858
In office:
December 9, 1844 – February 19, 1846
Anson Jones, a doctor, congressman, and the last president of the Republic of Texas, had a tumultuous career before achieving his place in history. Born in Massachusetts in 1798, he struggled to find success in medicine and business, venturing from New York to Venezuela before finally settling in Texas in 1833.

Jones quickly became involved in the growing Texas independence movement. He served as a private and surgeon during the Texas Revolution, gaining recognition for his role in the San Jacinto campaign. After the war, Jones entered politics, serving in the Texas Congress and advocating against premature annexation to the United States.

President Sam Houston appointed Jones as minister to the United States, where he pursued a strategy aimed at securing either recognition of Texan independence from Mexico or annexation by the US. Later, Jones served as Houston's Secretary of State, continuing to manage Texas's complex foreign affairs.

Elected president of Texas in 1844, Jones played a pivotal role in the republic's annexation to the United States. Despite facing public criticism and threats, he skillfully negotiated with foreign powers and domestic stakeholders, ultimately guiding Texas into statehood. His final public act in 1846 was to declare, "The Republic of Texas is no more."

Jones retired to his plantation, where he remained politically ambitious but unfulfilled. Frustrated and embittered, especially towards his rival Sam Houston, Jones tragically committed suicide in 1858. His legacy endures through places named in his honor and his role as the architect of Texas's annexation.

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