Triumph and Tragedy: Presidents of the Republic of Texas

Introduction Growing Up Gone to Texas Path to PowerSecretary of StateMister PresidentLater Years

Jones Timeline

November 1, 1833 - Arrives in Brazoria

Summer 1835 - Signs petition calling for the Consultation; first political act of his life

October 2, 1835 - Battle of Gonzales, first battle of the Texas Revolution

November 3, 1835 - Consultation meets to discuss autonomous rule for Texas; proposes interim Texas government

December 1835 - Presents resolution for independence at mass meeting in Brazoria but declines nomination to Convention

March 2, 1836 - Texas Declaration of Independence

March 6, 1836 - Fall of the Alamo

March 13, 1836 - Sam Houston abandons Gonzales, begins retreat eastward. Runaway Scrape begins.

April 21, 1836- Serves as surgeon during Battle of San Jacinto. Later organizes medical corps for the Texas army.

Summer 1836 - Resumes medical practice in Brazoria after evicting a competitor, James Collinsworth, from his office with a challenge to a duel

September 5 , 1836 - Texas voters elect Sam Houston president, overwhelmingly approve a resolution requesting annexation by the U.S.

1837-38 - Represents Brazoria in Second Texas Congress

1837 - Texas independence recognized by U.S., France, Britain, Netherlands, and Belgium

August 1837 - Texas formally proposes annexation to the United States

June-July 1838 - John Quincy Adams mounts massive filibuster against Texas annexation

June 1838 - Appointed Texas minister to the United States

October 1838 - Texas withdraws annexation proposal

Spring 1840 - Takes office as Texas senator

May 23, 1840 - Marries Mary Smith McCrory

Anson Jones

Hidden Talent

Anson Jones arrived in Brazoria, a small settlement of about fifty families, on November 1, 1833. He was shocked to find the town grief-stricken from a cholera epidemic that had killed eighty people. Jones had no desire to relive the terrible experience he had had in New Orleans. He decided to leave on the next departure of the Sabine, scheduled in two weeks.

When the people of Brazoria learned that Jones was a doctor with fifty dollars worth of medicine in tow, they began to call on him. Two of the area's doctors had died in the epidemic, they explained; Dr. Jones was desperately needed. To be begged to stay anywhere was a new experience for Anson Jones. He decided to give Texas a chance. By the end of 1834 he had a practice worth $5000 a year and had been joined in Texas by his sister Mary and his cousin Ira, also a doctor.

He had never been interested in politics. But even as a casual observer, Jones could see that his new home would soon be engulfed by war with Mexico. He was a peace-loving man but was greatly influenced by the increasingly militant stand of Stephen F. Austin. In 1835, he joined other leading citizens of Brazoria in signing the petition that called for the Consultation. Late in the year, Jones visited the Consultation's deliberations and was disgusted by the drunkenness and what he considered the dishonest rhetoric. Jones felt so strongly that, for the first time in his life, he spoke out. He helped organize a public meeting in Columbia that called for a declaration of independence from Mexico.

When war came, Jones recognized that he and his family would be caught up in it. He sent his sister Mary to New York for safety. When word reached Brazoria of the fall of the Alamo, Jones enlisted as a private in the Texas infantry. Jones was quickly put to work treating dysentery, measles, and other diseases afflicting the soldiers. But Jones wanted to fight. When the word came that the Texas troops were going to attack Santa Anna's army, he turned over his sick patients to another doctor and marched with the army to take part in the Battle of San Jacinto.

After the fight, Jones returned to his more familiar role, helping to tend to the wounded. His medical knowledge caught the attention of General Sam Houston, and Jones was selected to organize a medical corps for the Texas army. In the summer of 1836, he went back to New Orleans to buy medical supplies for Texas. He also settled his personal debts while in the city. Houston and other Texas leaders wanted Jones to remain in service, creating the position for him of apothecary general, but Jones decided to return to Brazoria and resume his medical practice.

His cousin Ira had died during the war, so Jones was once again alone in practice. His travels as a doctor took him often to the temporary capitol of Columbia, and Jones became intensely interested in public questions and the state of the nation. He was outraged when private companies began to swoop into Texas and attempt to control the Texas economy. He finally realized that political matters had become more important to him than the practice of medicine.

Jones, still a shy and solitary man at heart, now jumped into the political fray. He was elected to the Second Texas Congress. Jones almost immediately became one of the most respected statesmen in the ramshackle new capital of Houston. Like Jones, almost none of the legislators had any experience in government. But Jones had qualities that made him stand out from most early Texas leaders; namely, he was methodical, reasonable, and detail oriented. His few months of medical school in Philadelphia made him the most educated man in Congress; his colleagues were impressed with his passing knowledge of Latin and French. Anson Jones became chairman of three key committees: Foreign Relations, Ways and Means, and Privileges and Elections. While many members of the government were getting drunk and brawling in the streets, Jones was mastering the details of government.

During his time in Congress, Jones lived at a boarding house. It was there that he met a pretty, sad young woman named Mary Smith McCrory. Although only 18, Mary had been recently widowed when her husband died after only two months of marriage. They began a quiet romance. Soon Jones asked her to marry him and return with him to Brazoria. He would resume the life of a country doctor. They scheduled the wedding for June 1838.

Fate intervened in the form of Sam Houston. Ever since the Texas Revolution, relations with the United States had been a confused mess. Houston needed a new minister to represent the Texas cause in Washington, D.C. His choice was Anson Jones. After some hesitation, Jones felt obligated to help. He and Mary decided to postpone the wedding.

Jones's letters and diaries from this period reveal him to be lonely, depressed, and irritable. Nonetheless, he did a brilliant job in carrying out Houston's policies. Recognizing that annexation was a dead issue, Jones formally withdrew Texas's proposition to join the United States. Houston and Jones now believed that Europe held the key to the immediate future of Texas, and Jones began to cultivate the ministers of Britain and France, proposing Texas as the next economic kingdom for cotton, beef, wool, and sugar. Jones was considered so successful that when he returned home after being dismissed by the new president, Mirabeau Lamar, he was welcomed back to Texas as a hero.

Jones immediately took office as a Texas senator, filling the unexpired term of a senator who had died. He became one of President Lamar's harshest critics. Once again his intellectual abilities made him stand out. Jones chaired the Foreign Relations and Judiciary committees and was eventually chosen as president pro tem of the Senate.

Jones's love life took several twists and turns. In Washington, he had fallen in love with Jeannette Thurston, the daughter of a federal judge, who turned him down as a suitor. When Jones returned to Texas, he found that Mary McCrory had moved to the frontier town of Austin, Lamar's new capital. His journals reveal that things were somewhat awkward between them when they met again. In his quiet way, Jones started over with the young widow. He opened a medical practice in Austin. The two of them went riding, and Jones spent time at her family's boarding house. On May 23, 1840, they were married. The next year they moved back to Brazoria where Jones resumed practice as a country doctor. They soon started a family with the birth of a son, Sam.

Secretary of State>>

Anson Jones memoir

In his autobiography, Jones recorded his impressions of the Consultation and his disappointment at the behavior he witnessed there.

Anson Jones journal

Jones kept a journal in which he recorded his private thoughts and opinions. This page details a few days in the life of a Texas diplomat in Washington, D.C.

Page last modified: March 19, 2015