Portraits of Texas Governors  > Early Statehood - Part 1, 1846-1853  > Early Statehood - Part 2, 1853-1861 (this page)

Portraits of Texas Governors

Early Statehood - Part 2, 1853-1861

Elisha M. Pease

Elisha M. Pease

December 21, 1853 - December 21, 1857



Link - Letter from Burleson

Letter from E.D. Burleson on a fight with the Indians. War with the Indians continued throughout Pease's term of office.



Born: 1812 in Connecticut

Early Career: Pease clerked in a general store and then in a post office. In 1835 he immigrated to Texas, settling at Mina (Bastrop), where he read law under D.C. Barrett. As secretary of Mina's Committee of Public Safety (the first in Texas), Pease was a member of the peace faction until hostilities loomed; he fought in the first battle of the revolution, at Gonzales. His offices under the Republic included secretary of the General Council, clerk of the committee writing the Constitution of 1836, chief clerk of the navy and treasury departments, acting secretary of the treasury, clerk of the judicial committee of the House of Representatives, and comptroller of public accounts in 1837. After annexation, Pease was district attorney and state representative from Brazoria County; as chairman of the Judicial Committee he wrote the probate code of 1848. He also served in the state senate from 1849-1850.

Accomplishments: Pease was elected to the first two of his three terms as governor in 1853 and 1855. As governor, he supported Texas' first state school fund with $2 million in U.S. bonds from the Compromise of 1850; appropriations were also made for a state university. Pease encouraged railroad construction through state loans prorated per mile of new track laid. A new capitol was built, and Pease was the first governor to inhabit the present governor's mansion. Asylums for the deaf and dumb and the insane were also established. In 1854 Pease sent rangers to deal with the violent attacks on Mexican freight carriers in South Texas, known as the Cart War. The next year, a border war with Mexico was narrowly averted after mounted volunteers pursued a band of raiding Lipan Apaches across the Rio Grande, an incident which Pease handled diplomatically. He defeated a Know-Nothing candidate in 1855.

Later Years: As a Unionist, Pease spent the years from 1858 to 1866 in semi-retirement from public life. He became provisional governor of Texas again in 1867, August 8, 1867 - September 30, 1869.

Handbook of Texas article about Governor Elisha M. Pease

Link - Pease on Cart War

Pease's message to the Texas Legislature on the "Cart War"



Apr 29 1856

53 camels are imported into Texas by U.S. Army in an experiment that lasts 10 years

June 1856

Texas Governor's Mansion completed; Pease becomes first governor to live in the mansion

Bessemer process for steel introduced

Dred Scott decision in Supreme Court

Jul 9 1857

San Antonio-San Diego mail route established (27 days to make the trip)


Reservations established for Comanches in Throckmorton County and other tribes in Young County

 Fort Bliss established near El Paso

Crimean War begins

Foster's "Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair"

Whitman's Leaves of Grass

Mar 27 1856

Robert E. Lee begins Texas duty, leading U.S. Army efforts against Indians and bandits


Hardin R. Runnels

Hardin R. Runnels

December 21, 1857 - December 21, 1859


Link - Runnels to Ford

Letter to Rip Ford revealing Runnels' frustration with the Indian situation


Born: August 30, 1820 in Mississippi

Early career: Runnels settled with his mother and two brothers on a plantation in Bowie County in 1842. From 1847 to 1852, Runnels represented Bowie and various surrounding counties in the 2nd through 5th Legislatures; he was chosen speaker of the house in his last term. Runnels was elected lieutenant governor under Elisha M. Pease, and was the only person to defeat Sam Houston in a political campaign, becoming governor in 1857 on a states-rights ticket.

Accomplishments: Indian trouble, the border raids of Juan Cortina, and sectional factionalism were probable factors which helped Houston defeat Runnels in 1859.

Later years: Runnels was a delegate to the Secession Convention of 1861 and the Constitutional Convention of 1866. He died in 1873.

Handbook of Texas article about Governor Hardin R. Runnels

View Portrait of Governor Hardin R. Runnels

Link - Seguin to Runnels

Letter from Juan N. Seguin on an extradition treaty between Texas and Mexico


Sep 15 1858

Butterfield stage line begins operations in Texas; crossing the state takes 8-9 days

First Atlantic cable laid

July 13 1859

Juan "Cheno" Cortina leads violent uprising against Anglo lawmen in Brownsville. Clashes continue for the next 15 years.

Aug 3 1859

Comanches are moved to Indian Territory (later Oklahoma)

Charles Darwin's The Origin of Species

Daniel Emmet's "Dixie" and "Turkey in the Straw"

First American oil wells drilled in Pennsylvania


Sam Houston

Gov. Sam Houston

December 21, 1859 - March 16, 1861

Link - Navarro letter to Houston

Letter from Angel Navarro about the Cortina trouble in the Rio Grande Valley




Born: 1793 in Virginia

Early career: Houston moved to Tennessee in his early teens, and lived most of three years with the Cherokee Indians in his late teens. He was wounded in the Battle of Horseshoe Bend (1814), gaining the admiration of Andrew Jackson.

His legal and political career began in 1818: he was elected district attorney of Nashville, adjutant general, congressman, and finally governor of Tennessee. In 1829 marital difficulties probably moved Houston to resign the governorship and leave the state. He spent the next six years in diplomatic and business ventures in the Indian country.

Although he represented Nacogdoches in the Convention of 1833, he was not a permanent resident of Texas until 1835. Houston was a delegate to the Consultation in 1835, and was elected major general of the Texas army by the General Council. As delegate from Refugio, he was a leading figure at the Convention of 1836, which then named him commander-in-chief of the Texas Army. After leading the victory at San Jacinto, he was elected second president of the Republic of Texas. He was representative from San Augustine County in the 4th and 5th Congresses before being elected president once again in 1841. After annexation, he served in the U.S. Senate (1846-1859), during which tenure he was defeated by Hardin Runnels in the gubernatorial election of 1857.

Accomplishments: Houston was elected governor of Texas in 1859. His term was dominated mainly by his anti-secessionist activities, in which he warned of the dangers of civil war and worked for a compromise. When he refused to take the oath of allegiance to the Confederate States of America in March of 1861 (arguing that now Texas was again an independent republic), Houston was replaced by his lieutenant governor, Edward Clark.

Later years: Houston died at his farm near Huntsville on July 26, 1863.

Handbook of Texas article about Governor Sam Houston

View Photographs of Governor Sam Houston

Link - Message from Secession Convention

Message to Houston from the Secession Convention, March 12, 1861 (just four days later Houston was forced from office)


Garibaldi's Expedition of the Thousand in Italy

Pony Express begins operations

First dime novels

Feb 1 1861 The Secession Convention approves Ordinance of Secession

Feb 13 1861 Robert E. Lee is ordered home from Texas to assume command of the Union Army. He resigns and becomes commander of the Confederate Army.

Feb 16 1861 Local secessionists seize U.S. military equipment in San Antonio

Feb 23 1861 Voters approve Ordinance of Secession

Mar 1 1861 Texas is accepted into the Confederacy

Mar 2 1861 Texas secession becomes official

Mar 4 1861 Abraham Lincoln inaugurated as president

Mar 5 1861 Secession Convention accepts Confederate statehood

Mar 16 1861 Sam Houston is forced from office when he refuses to take the oath of allegiance to the Confederacy


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Page last modified: June 29, 2022