Triumph and Tragedy: Presidents of the Republic of Texas

Introduction Growing Up Gone to Texas Path to Power Secretary of StateMister PresidentLater Years

Jones Timeline

December 13, 1841 - Becomes Texas secretary of state

March 5, 1842 - Mexican forces invade Texas for the first time since the Revolution, briefly occupy San Antonio

September 11, 1842 - Mexican forces again sack San Antonio, take prisoners

Fall 1842 - President Houston authorizes Somerville retaliatory expedition, which briefly takes Laredo and Guerrero

December 30, 1842 - Some 300 men, known as the Mier Expedition, are taken prisoner during an attempt to raid Mexico

March 25, 1843 - Seventeen Mier prisoners executed in "black bean" episode

May 27, 1843 - Snively expedition to intercept Mexican wagon trains on Santa Fe Trail stopped by U.S. troops

June 15, 1843 - Texas-Mexico armistice

1843 - Santa Anna declares that he would consider Texas annexation tantamount to a declaration of war

January 1844 - President Houston resubmits annexation question to Texas Congress, orders Texas ministers to U.S. to pursue the matter in Washington

April 11, 1844 - Annexation treaty signed between Texas and U.S.

June 8, 1844 - Texas annexation treaty rejected by U.S. Senate

September 1844 - Elected president of Texas

1844 - James K. Polk wins U.S. presidential election with promises to expand U.S. dominion to Texas, Oregon, and California

Anson Jones

Secretary of State

Sam Houston was reelected to a second term as president in the fall of 1841 and appointed Jones as secretary of state. For Anson Jones, it would be the culmination of his career.

Jones took the helm of foreign affairs at a critical time in Texas history. On one side of the ledger, Jones could place recognition by France and the Netherlands and tentative recognition by Great Britain and Belgium. On the other side of the ledger, after the folly of Lamar's Santa Fe Expedition, the possibilities for peace with Mexico seemed more remote than ever.

Houston and Jones agreed on the purpose of getting two proposals, preferably at the same time: an offer of annexation from the United States and an acknowledgment of Texas independence from Mexico. This way, Texas could make the irrevocable choice between annexation and independence.

The threatening war with Mexico was the first crisis that Jones had to handle. A victory over Mexico could mean secure independence for Texas, but Jones believed that Texas lacked the money, men, and leadership to pull off a successful invasion. He and Houston quarreled over policy questions, especially after Houston committed troops to the Somerville expedition, which led to the disastrous Mier expedition.

Jones's European negotiations were more successful and consumed most of his time as secretary of state. He worked with European diplomats on laying the groundwork for colonies of immigrants to start new lives in Texas. Most importantly, he began a complicated series of negotiations with the United States, Britain, France, and Mexico, sometimes directly, sometimes through third parties. Skillfully, Jones made it appear that Texas was about to receive Mexican recognition and become a British satellite. If anything could spur the United States to reconsider annexation of Texas, it would be the prospect of losing Texas forever, with a British-controlled Texas blocking westward expansion.

During their time together, Jones lost much respect for Sam Houston. He detested Houston's emotional nature and his political gamesmanship. Yet he and Houston were united in their goals and their way of thinking about the future of Texas. By 1844, as a result of their diplomatic efforts, Britain had negotiated an armistice between Texas and Mexico; the Texas prisoners of war had been released; and the French were establishing regular steamship service to Texas. More trade deals were in the works.

At the same time, the United States had opened negotiations with Texas on annexation. In spite of their growing differences, Houston wanted Jones to succeed him as the next President of Texas. Houston believed that only Jones could be trusted to handle the delicate diplomacy that would result in the long-awaited goal. During the campaign year, Texas became a pawn in the U.S. presidential election between James Polk and Henry Clay.

More documents about Jones and annexation can be found on Texas Treasures.

During the Texas presidential election campaign, Jones came to distrust Houston more and more. Eventually, he decided that Houston was trying to sabotage both his candidacy and Texas's chances for annexation. The issues of the campaign became muddied as Jones slugged it out with General Edward Burleson. Jones was still a shy and colorless man, and the intricacies of his foreign policy made him seem slick and untrustworthy to many voters. All the same, Burleson was a plain soldier with no diplomatic experience. Most Texans wanted annexation, and this factor gave Jones the victory in a close election.

Architect of Annexation>>


Joseph Eve to Anson Jones, May 1842

Relations between Texans and Indians were generally hostile despite the peace policies of Houston and Jones. As this letter from the U.S. chargé d'affaires in Texas shows, conflict along the border with Indian Territory (Oklahoma) tested U.S.-Texas relations as well.

Anson Jones to Charles H. Raymond, August 1844

In this August 1844 letter on the annexation debate, Jones writes to Texas chargé d'affaires Charles H. Raymond in Washington demanding U.S. aid in the event of war breaking out between Texas and Mexico.

Page last modified: March 19, 2015