Portraits of Texas Governors


Early Statehood

Part I, 1846-1853

J. Pinckney Henderson

 

Timeline

J. Pinckney Henderson

February 19, 1846 -

December 21, 1847

Born: March 31, 1808 in North Carolina

Early Career: Henderson came to Texas in 1836 from Mississippi after raising a company of volunteers to fight for Texas independence. President David G. Burnet commissioned Henderson to raise troops for Texas in the United States. Once Texas became a republic, Henderson served as attorney general and then secretary of state under President Sam Houston in 1836 and 1837, acted as special minister to England and France from 1837 to 1840, assisted Isaac Van Zandt in negotiating an annexation treaty in 1844, and served as a member of the Constitutional Convention of 1845.

Accomplishments: Politically savvy, Henderson ran for governor after the death of Kenneth Anderson, who was his law partner and a leading contender in the governor's race. Lieutenant Governor Albert Clinton Horton became acting governor on May 19, 1846 when Henderson led a regiment of Texas volunteers to fight in the Mexican War. Henderson returned to his duties as governor on December 13, 1846.

Later Years: Henderson did not seek reelection after his term as governor expired, but returned to his San Augustine law practice. He filled the United States Senate seat of Thomas J. Rusk from November 9, 1857 until his death on June 4, 1858 in Washington, D.C.

Handbook of Texas article

Feb 19 1846 Texas officially becomes a state

May 8 1846

Battle of Palo Alto, first major battle of U.S.-Mexican War

May 9 1846

Battle of Resaca de la Palma

May 13 1846

War officially declared between U.S. and Mexico

Treaty of Oregon settles U.S.-Canadian border

Californians declare "Bear Republic"

First baseball game

Sep 20-24 1846

U.S. army captures Monterrey, Mexico

Elias Howe invents sewing machine

Mormon immigration to Utah

Jan 3 1847 Assault of Veracruz

Feb 22-23 1847 Battle of Buena Vista

Apr 18 1847

Battle of Sierra Gorda

Link - Henderson to Chandler

Henderson to Eli Chandler, authorizing him to raise a company of mounted riflemen

Link - Henderson to Horton

Henderson to Lt. Governor Horton, announcing he is leaving to take field command of Texas troops

 


George T. Wood

 

Timeline

George T. Wood

December 21, 1847 -

December 21, 1849

Born: March 12, 1795 in Georgia

Early career: Wood was a veteran of the Battle of Horseshoe Bend at nineteen and served in the Georgia state assembly. In 1839, he brought his family and 30 slaves to Texas where he settled a plantation along the Trinity River. Wood served in the Sixth Congress (1841) and the Annexation Convention of 1845. He resigned his seat in the state senate to become a regimental colonel in the Mexican War. Considered by his men to be a hero at the Battle of Monterrey, he was slighted by James Pinckney Henderson in the general's report; the incident may have been decisive in Wood's election as governor in 1847.

Accomplishments: Issues in his administration included increased defense of the frontier against Indians, payment of the large public debt, and establishment of Texas' right to the territory east of the Rio Grande above El Paso. The tough-talking Wood was defeated by the anti-Houston faction in 1849.

Later years: Wood made two more unsuccessful attempts at reelection before he died on September 3, 1858.

Handbook of Texas article

Gold discovered in California

Feb 2 1848

Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo ends U.S.-Mexican War and sets international boundary

First women's rights convention in Seneca Falls, New York

Communist Manifesto published

Foster's "Oh, Susanna!"

First chewing gum

Jun 6 1849

Fort Worth established, westernmost boundary with Indian tribes

Aug 11 1849

Wood sends Ranger companies to Corpus Christi to guard against Indian attacks

Livingstone begins African exploration

Oct 1 1849 Huntsville prison opens

Thoreau's Civil Disobedience

Link - Wood to Polk

Wood to President Polk, defending Texas' claim to the Santa Fe Territory

Link - Wood to Senate

Wood to the Texas Senate, explaining his decision to send Texas Rangers to protect Corpus Christi against Indian attacks

 


Peter Hansbrough Bell

 

Timeline

Peter H. Bell

December 21, 1849 -

November 23, 1853

Born: March 11, 1808 in Virginia

Early Career: Bell came to Texas in 1836 and fought as a private in Henry Karnes' cavalry company at the Battle of San Jacinto. After serving as inspector general in 1839, he joined the Texas Rangers under Jack Hays in 1840 and was a major in the Somervell Expedition of 1842. Bell was in command of the Corpus Christi District when the Mexican War broke out. He served as lieutenant colonel in Colonel George T. Wood's regiment and fought at Buena Vista; he then rejoined the rangers to protect the Rio Grande frontier. In 1849, Bell traded his military career for a political one, defeating George T. Wood for governor. He was reelected in 1851.

Accomplishments: The major event of Bell's tenure was the settlement of the western boundary dispute by the Compromise of 1850 (see Texas Treasures for more on this historic event). Bell had requested troops from the state legislature to occupy Santa Fe, and Mississippi had promised to help Texas should war break out with United States troops. Despite this, the federal government obtained the cession of the area (amounting to 56 million acres) in exchange for $10 million in U.S. securities, with which Texas paid its public debt. In addition, Austin was re-named the temporary capital.

Later years: A few months before the expiration of his second term, Bell resigned to take the vacant seat in the U.S. Congress from the Western District of Texas. Lieutenant Governor James Wilson Henderson completed the last month of Bell's term. In 1857 Bell married and moved to North Carolina, his bride's home state. Impoverished by the loss of slaves in the Civil War, Bell was awarded a pension by Texas in 1891. He died in North Carolina in 1898.

Handbook of Texas article

Feb 11 1850

Buffalo Bayou, Brazos, and Colorado becomes the first railroad to operate in Texas

Nov 25 1850

Bell signs Compromise of 1850

Taiping rebellion begins in China

Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin

Foster's "Camptown Races," "Old Folks at Home," and "My Old Kentucky Home"

California Gold Rush

New York Times begins publication

Louis Napoleon becomes Emperor of France

Commodore Perry reaches Japan

 

Link - Bell to Senate

Bell to the Texas Senate on plans for a fire-proof building for the Treasury and General Land Office

Link - Chubb and Schenck to Bell

Bankers Chubb & Schenck to Bell on an investment opportunity for the $10 million settlement from the 1850 Boundary Act

 


James W. Henderson

 

 

J.W. Henderson

November 23, 1853 -

December 21, 1853

Born: August 15, 1817 in Tennessee

Early Career: Henderson came to Texas at the age of 19 to participate in the struggle for independence, but arrived too late. He settled in Harris County and became the county surveyor, also studying law. In 1842 he enlisted in the Somervelle Expedition. He was elected to the House of Representatives in 1843, and in 1847 became speaker of the House. He was elected lieutenant governor in 1851.

Accomplishments: Henderson served the last 28 days of Peter H. Bell's term of office.

Later years: Henderson was reelected to the legislature in 1857. During the Civil War, he joined the Confederate Army as a captain under John B. Magruder. After the war, he was a delegate to the Constitutional Convention of 1866, a member of the executive committee at the Democratic state convention in 1868, and vice president of the state Democratic convention in 1871. He died on August 30, 1880.

Handbook of Texas article

 

Link - Letter to JW Henderson

Letter to Henderson soliciting an appointment and relating the latest gossip

Link - Petition from citizens of Corpus Christi

Petition from the citizens of Corpus Christi for the appointment of a new pilot for Aransas Pass

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Page last modified: September 19, 2011