Triumph and Tragedy: Presidents of the Republic of Texas

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

Lamar Timeline

March 6, 1836 - Fall of the Alamo

March 8, 1836 - Georgia battalion joins Fannin at Goliad

March 27, 1836 - James Fannin and 400 men executed under Santa Anna's orders in "Goliad Massacre"

April 1836 - Returns to Texas and enlists in Texas Army as a private

April 20, 1836 - Promoted on the field to colonel and assigned to command the cavalry

April 21, 1836 - Battle of San Jacinto

May 1836 - Becomes secretary of war in David G. Burnet's cabinet

June 1836 - Named commander-in-chief of Texas army but never assumes command

September 1836 - Elected vice-president of Texas on Sam Houston's ticket

1837 - Returns to Georgia to visit and publicize Texas

December 5, 1837 - Organizes Philosophical Society of Texas

July 22, 1838 - Last recorded Indian attack in the state of Georgia

September 1838 - Elected president of Texas

1838-39 - Creeks and Cherokees forced to leave Georgia on "Trail of Tears"

Mirabeau B. Lamar

Leader of the Opposition

Lamar had just returned to Texas, armed with funds from his brothers for investing in Texas lands, when word reached him of the massacres at the Alamo and Goliad, where his friend James Fannin was murdered. Lamar at once enlisted in the Texas army as a private.

In a skirmish with Mexican troops, Lamar saved the lives of secretary of war Thomas J. Rusk and Walter P. Lane, later to become a top military leader. For his courage and quick thinking, and in recognition of his leadership ability, General Houston commissioned Lamar a colonel and placed him in charge of the cavalry. The following day was April 21, 1836. The place was San Jacinto. Lamar's cavalry distinguished themselves that day, and the newcomer to Texas had earned his right to be a Texan.

Ten days later, as a reward for his performance, President Burnet named Lamar secretary of war. Burnet attempted to appoint Lamar as commander of the Texas army. The army was near mutiny, and Burnet thought Lamar was popular enough to bring some order to a dangerous situation. Lamar traveled to Victoria to take command of the troops and soon learned that many of them despised Burnet to such a degree that they would not accept him as commander. Lamar accepted a proposal that the men vote on his generalship. The result was embarrassing: Lamar received just 179 votes out of over 1500 cast.

Lamar withdrew from the job and returned to private life for a few months. He then threw his hat in the ring for the first elections in Texas. He was elected vice-president under Sam Houston, his old commander at San Jacinto. Houston was a strong president with little use for an assistant, and he and Lamar quickly developed a dislike for each other that would ripen into hatred. Lamar spent his time traveling, studying Spanish, and collecting historical memorabilia.

In 1838, Lamar began to build a plantation house in Richmond that he called "The Oak Grove." He was finally settled enough for a visit from his daughter Rebecca, now eleven years old. Besides the reunion, he was gearing up for the biggest political challenge of his life. Lamar decided to run for president as head of the anti-Houston faction.

The campaign was hard fought at first but took a bizarre turn. Lamar's opponent, attorney and diplomat Peter Grayson, had a history of mental illness. Grayson committed suicide during a period of severe depression. The candidate chosen to replace Grayson, chief justice James Collinsworth, fell or jumped from a boat in Galveston after a week-long drinking binge and drowned. The final opponent, Texas Senator Robert Wilson, entered the race with only a few days to go before the election. Lamar won by a huge margin of victory.

A Vision of Greatness >>




Mary Ann Moreland to Mirabeau Lamar, May 1836

Mirabeau Lamar was part of a large and close-knit family, and made frequent trips to Georgia to visit home. In this letter, written just weeks after San Jacinto, Lamar's sister Mary Ann gives him news of Indian attacks on the Georgia frontier, family gossip, and reminds him to write to their mother.

Mirabeau Lamar campaign address, August 1838

This August 1838 campaign address reveals much of Lamar's philosophy about republican simplicity and virtue, as well as his poetic side.

Mirabeau Lamar to David Burnet, July 1836

In this letter to President Burnet, Lamar unloads about the humiliation of being rejected as commander of the Texas army, and relates the role of General Thomas J. Rusk in conspiring against him.


Page last modified: March 16, 2015