Henry Smith (1788-1851)
Henry Smith had moved to Texas from Kentucky in 1827. He was active in politics from the beginning, and also took part in the battle of Velasco in 1832. He was considered a loyal citizen by the Mexican government, which appointed him as political chief in the Brazos region in 1834. But just a year later, Smith had become a leading advocate of independence for Texas, by war if necessary.
Smith was named acting governor of Texas by the General Council in November 1835. No diplomat, Smith soon began to feud with the General Council, and was sacked from his position in January 1836.
Smith returned to politics in the first Sam Houston administration, serving as secretary of the treasury. He also served a term in the Texas House of Representatives. He retired to Aransas County. In 1849, along with much of the rest of the country, he succumbed to "gold fever" and headed for California, where he died in a mining camp.
. . . infested as they are by conflicting
interests and by discordant materials,
without friends, without the munitions
of War, without Army in the field,
contending against a powerful foe.
These are the auspices under which we
are forced to make a beginning.
2. Our country is now involved in War[;]
our foe is far superior to us in numbers
and resources. Yet when I consider the stern
materials of which our army is composed,
the gallant and heroic men that are
now in the field, I regard not the dispar-
ity of numbers, but am satisfied that we
could push our conquests even to the walls
of Mexico. I earnestly recommend that you
adopt the most prompt and energetic
measures in behalf of the army & that you
forthwith provide all the necessary munitions
of War, so that the army may not be
cramped or impeded by remissness on
the part of the Government. And that
you be careful to select agents of known
skill and science to purchase Artillery
and other munitions.
3. Another important matter will require
your immediate attention. Our sea port
and frontier towns are unprotected,
and exposed to the mercy of the enemy.
The policy of having them well fortified
must be obvious to all. I therefore
recommend the organization of a civil
and Topographical Engineer Corps and
the commencement of the work of fortification
and defence without delay.
Excerpt from Message of Acting Governor Henry Smith, November 16, 1835. Records of the Provisional Government, 1835-1836, Texas Secretary of State. Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.