Triumph and Tragedy: Presidents of the Republic of Texas

Introduction Growing Up Gone to Texas Path to Power Mister President Later Years

Burnet Timeline

April 14, 1788 - Born in Newark, New Jersey

1789 - George Washington elected first president of the United States

1791 - Bill of Rights ratified

1791 - Burnet's father dies

1791 - Little Turtle's Indian confederacy defeats General Arthur St. Clair's army in the Ohio country; worst defeat in U.S. history

1794 -- General Anthony Wayne defeats the Indian confederacy at the Battle of Fallen Timbers

1795 - Treaty of Greenville brings peace to the Ohio country

1796 - David Burnet and his brothers move to Cincinnati in the Ohio country

1803 - Ohio becomes 17th state

1803 - Louisiana Purchase. United States enters dispute with Spain, claiming Texas as part of the Purchase

David G. Burnet

Young Man of the West

David Gouverneur Burnet was born one of the youngest of 14 children in a large and politically well-connected family. His father, Dr. William Burnet, had served as a member of the Continental Congress during the American Revolution and later became surgeon general of the Continental army. His mother was a member of two prominent families, the Gouverneurs and the Rutgers.

When David was only three years old, he was orphaned. His older half-brothers, Jacob and Isaac, took the boy to raise. Jacob and Isaac soon moved from the east to Cincinnati, a growing settlement on the Ohio River. David was about seven or eight years old when he became a resident of what was then America's far western frontier.

Isaac and Jacob Burnet became leading citizens of the territory. Jacob was a close friend of one of the most important frontier leaders, William Henry Harrison, and served as a legislator, judge, and U.S. Senator. Isaac would become mayor of Cincinnati. The Burnets saw to it that David received the best education available, which in those days meant instruction in subjects such as Greek, Latin, philosophy, history, and literature. Little formal education was available in the settlement, so David was probably taught either by hired tutors or, more likely, by his brothers.

By the time David was 17, Cincinnati's population stood at 1000 civilians plus a large military population. Dozens of businesses served the army and the legions of settlers traveling west. David himself seemed primed to follow in the footsteps of his successful brothers. He was articulate, opinionated about politics, and burning with a fierce determination to live up to his family's name and reputation.

A Life on the Move>>

Jacob Burnet

Jacob Burnet (1770-1853) raised David Burnet. From his accomplished brother, David would have learned to go against the grain politically. His brother was a militant Federalist and Whig. David later wrote that Jacob taught him the dangers of "ignorant popular sovereignty." (Biographical Directory of the United States Congress)

Page last modified: March 11, 2015