Mirabeau B. Lamar

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Mirabeau B. Lamar
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2nd President of Texas
In office
December 10, 1838 December 13, 1841
Vice President David G. Burnet
Preceded by Sam Houston
Succeeded by Sam Houston
1st Vice President of Texas
In office
October 22, 1836 December 10, 1838
President Sam Houston
Preceded by Lorenzo de Zavala (interim)
Succeeded by David G. Burnet
4th United States Ambassador to Nicaragua
In office
February 8, 1858 May 20, 1859
President James Buchanan
Preceded by John H. Wheeler
Succeeded by Alexander Dimitry
3rd United States Ambassador to Costa Rica
In office
September 14, 1858 May 20, 1859
President James Buchanan
Preceded by Solon Borland
Succeeded by Alexander Dimitry
Personal details
Born(1798-08-16)August 16, 1798
near Louisville, Georgia
DiedDecember 19, 1859(1859-12-19) (aged 61)
near Richmond, Texas
Resting placeMorton Cemetery,
Richmond, Texas
29°35′09″N95°45′48″W / 29.5858°N 95.7633°W / 29.5858; -95.7633
Nationality American, Texian
Political party Democratic-Republican Party
Democratic Party
Spouse(s)Tabitha Jordan Lamar (died 1830)
Henrietta Maffitt
Relations Lucius Q. C. Lamar (brother)
Lucius Q. C. Lamar II (nephew)
ChildrenRebecca Ann Lamar (born c. 1827)
Loretto Evalina Lamar
Mirabeau Lamar monument at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas, reads: "The cultivated mind is the guardian genius of democracy." Lamar mounument at SFA University in Nacogdoches IMG 3333.JPG
Mirabeau Lamar monument at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas, reads: "The cultivated mind is the guardian genius of democracy."

Mirabeau Buonaparte Lamar (August 16, 1798 – December 19, 1859) was an attorney born in Georgia, who became a Texas politician, poet, diplomat, and soldier. He was a leading Texas political figure during the Texas Republic era. He was elected as the second President of the Republic of Texas after Sam Houston. He was known for waging war against bands of Cherokee and Comanche peoples to push them out of Texas, and for establishing a fund to support public education.

Lawyer legal professional who helps clients and represents them in a court of law

A lawyer or attorney is a person who practices law, as an advocate, attorney, attorney at law, barrister, barrister-at-law, bar-at-law, canonist, canon lawyer, civil law notary, counsel, counselor, counsellor, solicitor, legal executive, or public servant preparing, interpreting and applying law, but not as a paralegal or charter executive secretary. Working as a lawyer involves the practical application of abstract legal theories and knowledge to solve specific individualized problems, or to advance the interests of those who hire lawyers to perform legal services.

Texas State of the United States of America

Texas is the second largest state in the United States by both area and population. Geographically located in the South Central region of the country, Texas shares borders with the U.S. states of Louisiana to the east, Arkansas to the northeast, Oklahoma to the north, New Mexico to the west, and the Mexican states of Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo León, and Tamaulipas to the southwest, and has a coastline with the Gulf of Mexico to the southeast.

A politician is a person active in party politics, or a person holding or seeking office in government. Politicians propose, support and create laws or policies that govern the land and, by extension, its people. Broadly speaking, a "politician" can be anyone who seeks to achieve political power in any bureaucratic institution.


Early life/childhood

Lamar was born in 1798 in Louisville, Georgia, and grew up at Fairfield, his father's cotton plantation near Milledgeville, then the state capital. His father's family was descended from French Huguenot Thomas Lamar, who had settled in Maryland in 1660. They had connections with other families throughout Georgia and the South. [1] [2] As a child, Lamar loved to read and educated himself through books. Although he was accepted to Princeton College, he chose not to attend. He started work as a merchant and then ran a newspaper, but both of those enterprises failed.

Louisville, Georgia City in Georgia, United States

Louisville is a city in Jefferson County, Georgia, United States. It is a former state capital of Georgia and is the county seat of Jefferson County. It is located southwest of Augusta on the Ogeechee River, and its population was 2,493 at the 2010 census, down from 2,712 at the 2000 census. The name is of French origin, but is pronounced "Lewis-ville" by locals.

Plantations in the American South aspect of the history of the American South

Plantations are an important aspect of the history of the American South, particularly the antebellum era. The mild subtropical climate, plentiful rainfall, and fertile soils of the southeastern United States allowed the flourishing of large plantations, where large numbers of workers, usually Africans held captive for slave labor, were required for agricultural production.

Milledgeville, Georgia City in Georgia, United States

Milledgeville is a city in and the county seat of Baldwin County in the U.S. state of Georgia. It is northeast of Macon and bordered on the east by the Oconee River. The rapid current of the river here made this an attractive location to build a city. It was the capital of Georgia from 1804 to 1868, notably during the American Civil War. Milledgeville was preceded as the capital city by Louisville and was succeeded by Atlanta, the current capital. Today U.S. Highway 441 connects Milledgeville to Madison, Athens, and Dublin.

In 1823, Lamar's family connections helped him to gain a position as the private secretary to newly elected Georgia Governor George M. Troup. In this position, Lamar issued press releases and toured the state, giving speeches on behalf of the governor. On one of his trips, he met Tabitha Burwell Jordan, whom he married in 1826. [3] They had a daughter together. [2]

When Troup lost his re-election bid in 1828, Lamar moved with his family to Columbus, Georgia, where he established the Columbus Enquirer. [4] This venture was much more successful than his previous business attempts. In 1830, his wife Tabitha died of tuberculosis. [5] Lamar was deeply affected and took time to recover his drive. He withdrew his name from consideration for re-election to the Georgia Senate, in which he had served one term.

Columbus, Georgia Consolidated city-county in Georgia, United States

Columbus is a consolidated city-county located on the west central border of the U.S. state of Georgia. Located on the Chattahoochee River directly across from Phenix City, Alabama, Columbus is the county seat of Muscogee County, with which it officially merged in 1970. Columbus is the third-largest city in Georgia and the fourth-largest metropolitan area. According to the 2017 estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau, Columbus has a population of 194,058 residents, with 303,811 in the Columbus metropolitan area. The metro area joins the nearby Alabama cities of Auburn and Opelika to form the Columbus–Auburn–Opelika Combined Statistical Area, which has a 2017 estimated population of 499,128.

Tuberculosis Infectious disease caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium tuberculosis

Tuberculosis (TB) is an infectious disease usually caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB) bacteria. Tuberculosis generally affects the lungs, but can also affect other parts of the body. Most infections do not have symptoms, in which case it is known as latent tuberculosis. About 10% of latent infections progress to active disease which, if left untreated, kills about half of those affected. The classic symptoms of active TB are a chronic cough with blood-containing sputum, fever, night sweats, and weight loss. It was historically called "consumption" due to the weight loss. Infection of other organs can cause a wide range of symptoms.

After traveling, Lamar began to study law. He was admitted to the bar in 1833 and ran an unsuccessful campaign for a seat in the U.S. Congress. [3]

Bar (law)

In law, the bar is the legal profession as an institution. The term is a metonym for the line that separates the parts of a courtroom reserved for spectators and those reserved for participants in a trial such as lawyers.

United States Congress Legislature of the United States

The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the Federal Government of the United States. The legislature consists of two chambers: the House of Representatives and the Senate.

Texas Revolution

Lamar's brother Lucius committed suicide in 1834. A grief-stricken Lamar began traveling again to ease his sorrow. In the summer of 1835, he reached Texas, then part of Mexico. He decided to stay, where he was visiting his friend James Fannin. The friend had recently settled there and was working as a slave trader in Velasco. [3] [5]

Suicide intentional act of causing ones own death

Suicide is the act of intentionally causing one's own death. Mental disorders, including depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, personality disorders, and substance abuse—including alcoholism and the use of benzodiazepines—are risk factors. Some suicides are impulsive acts due to stress, such as from financial difficulties, troubles with relationships, or bullying. Those who have previously attempted suicide are at a higher risk for future attempts. Effective suicide prevention efforts include limiting access to methods of suicide—such as firearms, drugs, and poisons; treating mental disorders and substance misuse; proper media reporting of suicide; and improving economic conditions. Even though crisis hotlines are common, there is little evidence for their effectiveness.

Mexican Texas

Mexican Texas is the historiographical name used to refer to the era of Texan history between 1821 and 1836, when it was part of Mexico. Mexico gained independence from Spain in 1821 after winning its war. Initially, Mexican Texas operated similarly to Spanish Texas. Ratification of the 1824 Constitution of Mexico created a federal structure, and the province of Tejas was joined with the province of Coahuila to form the state of Coahuila y Tejas.

James Fannin American soldier

James Walker Fannin Jr. was a 19th-century American military figure in the Texas Army and leader during the Texas Revolution of 1835–36. After being outnumbered and surrendering to Mexican forces at the Battle of Coleto Creek, Colonel Fannin and nearly all his 344 men were executed soon afterward at Goliad, Texas, under Santa Anna's orders for all rebels to be executed.

After a trip back to Georgia, Lamar returned to Texas. Learning of a battle for independence, he traveled with his horse and sword to join Sam Houston's army in spring 1836, and distinguished himself with bravery at the Battle of San Jacinto. [3] On the eve of the battle, Lamar courageously rescued two surrounded Texans, an act that drew a salute from the Mexican lines. One of those rescued was Thomas Jefferson Rusk, later appointed as Texas Secretary of War. [6] [ page needed ] Lamar was promoted that night from private to colonel and given command of the cavalry during the battle the following day.

Houston noted in his battle report: "Our cavalry, 61 in number, commanded by Mirabeau B. Lamar, (whose gallant and daring conduct on the previous day, had attracted the admiration of his comrades and called him to that station), placed on our right, completed our line ..."[ citation needed ]

After Texas achieved independence from Mexico, Lamar was appointed as the Secretary of War in the interim Texian government. In 1836, he was elected to the position.

President of Texas

Lamar, the unanimous choice as nominee of the Democratic Party for president to succeed Houston, was elected. He was inaugurated on December 1, 1838. [3] Houston talked for three hours in his farewell address, "which so unnerved Lamar that he was unable to read his inaugural speech." [3] It was given by his aide, Algernon P. Thompson. [3] Lamar's vice president was David G. Burnet.

Several weeks later, in his first formal address to the Texas Congress, Lamar urged that the Cherokee and Comanche tribes be driven from their lands in Texas, even if the tribes had to be destroyed. He proposed to create a national bank and to secure a loan from either the United States or Europe. Finally, he stated his opposition to potential annexation to the United States and desire to gain recognition of the Republic of Texas by European nations. [7]

He ordered attacks against the Indian tribes. In 1839, Texian troops drove the Cherokee bands from the state. Houston's friend, Chief Bowles, was killed in battle, and Houston was furious with Lamar. The government conducted a similar campaign against the Comanche. Although losing many lives, the Comanche resisted leaving the area. [7] Lamar believed the "total extinction" of the Indian tribes was necessary to make the lands available to whites. [8] He drove the Indians out at the Battle of the Neches, where 500 Texans attacked 800 American Indians of several different tribes. Of these 800, between 400 and 500 were women, children, and elders. The Texians and Rangers who attacked the tribes were fully armed, while the Indians had an estimated 16–24 rifles and pistols. Before the attack, Duwali, Gatunwali, Big Mush, and other chiefs and leaders asked for time to gather their crops, then they would go in peace, but Lamar would not wait.[ citation needed ]. Lamar ordered the Secretary of War, Albert Sydney Johnston, and General Thomas J. Rusk to run them out of Texas.

Lamar appointed a commission to select a permanent site for the capital of the Republic. After two months of debate, they recommended the small town of Waterloo, along the Colorado River toward the center of the state. The town was renamed Austin after the pioneer. By October 1839, all of the records and employees were relocated there from Houston. [7] That same year, Lamar founded the Texas State Library (presently known as the Texas State Library and Archives Commission). [7]

During his administration, Lamar sent three separate agents to Mexico to negotiate a peace settlement. All failed. Lamar failed to gain official recognition for Texas from Great Britain, France, and Belgium; it always eluded the would-be nation. He did succeed in getting the three nations to send observers, who would provisionally investigate the issue. [9] He did not succeed in getting loans approved from them. To fill the treasury, he authorized issuance of a large amount of Republic of Texas paper money, known as Redbacks. The paper money was virtually worthless. Spending doubled during Lamar's term, and combined with the worthless currency, caused financial difficulties for the government. [7] [9]

Lamar wanted the Rio Grande to be the western boundary of Texas. He wanted to send an expedition to New Mexico to conquer it, and convince the residents, still loyal to Mexico, to join the Republic. The Texas Congress refused to fund the expedition in 1839 and 1840. In June 1841, Lamar took $89,000 from the treasury and sent an expedition on his own initiative. It was questioned on constitutional grounds. Its members were arrested when they reached Santa Fe, and were told they would soon be released. Instead, under guard, they were marched to prison in Mexico City, and many died during the journey. [9]

Lamar has been called "the Father of Texas Education" because of his provisions of land to support it. During his administration, he convinced the legislature to set aside three leagues of land in each county to be devoted to school development. He also allotted 50 leagues of land for the support of two universities, later developed as Texas A&M University (1876), under the Morrill Act, and the University of Texas (1883). Although no facilities were constructed during his term, he provided the base for a statewide public school system. [7] Government gave 18,000 acres of public land for public schools. He wanted education to be a priority to cultivate a knowledgeable citizenry.

In keeping with other slave societies in the South, Texas prohibited the few free blacks from schools. A public school system was not firmly established until after the American Civil War, when the Reconstruction era legislature created an endowment to finance a school system. In 1869, it passed a law to give the public school fund the proceeds from sale of public lands. The constitution of that year authorized the legislature to establish school districts and appoint directors. Freedmen's children were included in the system, despite much opposition. [10]

When Lamar left office in 1841, Texas was almost $7 million in debt, the majority of which was accrued from his policies. [11] [12]

Later years

Coat of arms of Mirabeau B. Lamar Coat of Arms of Mirabeau B. Lamar.svg
Coat of arms of Mirabeau B. Lamar

Houston was elected again as president after Lamar. The latter returned to service in the army, and distinguished himself in the U.S. Army at the Battle of Monterrey during the Mexican–American War. During this time, money was tight in Texas; Lamar borrowed money from his banker cousin Gazaway Bugg Lamar. Some of the letters on this subject between the two are amusing. [13] In late 1847, he was assigned as a post commander at Laredo, but disliked the job, as he wanted more action. [14]

Lamar was elected from Eagle Pass in the Texas Legislature for several years after Texas was annexed to the United States in 1845. In 1857, President James Buchanan appointed Lamar as the Minister to Nicaragua, and a few months later to Costa Rica. He served in Managua for 20 months before returning to Texas in October 1859 because of poor health. He died of a heart attack at his Richmond plantation on December 19, 1859. [14]

Lamar's volume of collected poems, Verse Memorials, was published in 1857 (New York, W.P. Fetridge & Co., 224 pages).


Mirabeau Lamar monument at the Fort Bend County Courthouse in Richmond, Texas. Mirabeau Lamar monument and Fort Bend County Courthouse Richmond Texas.jpg
Mirabeau Lamar monument at the Fort Bend County Courthouse in Richmond, Texas.

Lamar was known for his quote:

The cultivated mind is the guardian genius of democracy and, while guided and controlled by virtue, the noblest attribute of man. It is the only dictator that freemen acknowledge and the only security that freemen desire.

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  1. Thomas Robson Hay, "Gazaway Bugg Lamar, Confederate Banker and Business Man", The Georgia Historical Quarterly Vol. 37, No. 2 (June, 1953), pp. 89–128, via JSTOR; accessed 31 January 2018
  2. 1 2 Herbert Gambrell. "Lamar, Mirabeau Buonaparte". Handbook of Texas History Online.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Hendrickson (1995), p. 35.
  4. "Prospectus for the Columbus Enquirer, 1828", Texas State Library, retrieved September 2008
  5. 1 2 "Mirabeau B. Lamar". Giants of Texas History. Texas State Library and Archives Commission. Retrieved 5 March 2014.
  6. Thomas Lamar Coughlin, Those Southern Lamars ISBN   0-7388-2410-0
  7. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Hendrickson (1995), p. 37.
  8. Anderson, Gary C. The Conquest of Texas: Ethnic Cleansing in the Promised Land 1820–1875, 2005, pg. 174, ISBN   0-8061-3698-7
  9. 1 2 3 Hendrickson (1995), p. 38.
  10. W.E.B. Du Bois, Black Reconstruction in America, 1860–1880, New York: Free Press, 1935/1998 edition, p.560
  11. "Mirabeau B. Lamar". Triumph and Tragedy: Presidents of the Republic of Texas. Texas State Library and Archives Commission . Retrieved 9 January 2017. ... To finance his ambitious schemes, he counted on loans from England and France that never came through. During his term of office, the Texas government collected about a million dollars in taxes and spent almost five million.
  12. Encyclopedia Britannica (1998). "Mirabeau Buonaparte Lamar" . Retrieved 9 January 2017. Lamar's constant military campaigning against the Indians and his costly exploits into New Mexico nearly bankrupted Texas. When he left office in 1841, the republic's debt stood at more than $7,000,000.
  13. Gulick, Charles Adams Jr, The Papers of Mirabeau Buonaparte Lamar, A.C. Baldwin & Sons
  14. 1 2 Hendrickson (1995), p. 39.
  15. Eaton, David Wolfe (1916). How Missouri Counties, Towns and Streams Were Named. The State Historical Society of Missouri. p. 207.

Further reading

Political offices
Preceded by
Lorenzo de Zavala
ad interim
Vice President of the Republic of Texas
Succeeded by
David G. Burnet
Preceded by
Sam Houston
first term
President of the Republic of Texas
Succeeded by
Sam Houston
second term
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
John H. Wheeler
United States Minister to Nicaragua
February 8, 1858–May 20, 1859
Succeeded by
Alexander Dimitry
Title last held by
Solon Borland
United States Minister to Costa Rica
September 14, 1858–May 20, 1859