Mirabeau B. Lamar: Texas Patriot and President (1798-1859)

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Mirabeau Buonaparte Lamar, the son of an aristocratic Georgia family and third President of the Republic of Texas, originally came to Texas in 1835 to do research for a proposed history of Texas.


An ardent proponent of independence, he began a swift climb to prominence in Texas by enlisting as a private in the revolutionary army after the Alamo and Goliad massacres of March 1836. Sam Houston commissioned him as colonel minutes before the Battle of San Jacinto on April 21, 1836.  Within two months of the battle, President David G. Burnet appointed Lamar secretary of war and then commander in chief. The voters elected Lamar vice-president and Sam Houston president of the new Republic in September 1836.  

In 1838, Lamar ran for president of the Republic of Texas as head of the anti-Houston faction.  The campaign was hard fought at first but took a bizarre turn. Two of his opponents, Peter W. Grayson and James Collinsworth, died, leaving only Robert Wilson, a businessman nominated by the supporters of Houston.  Lamar won by a huge margin of victory, 6,995 votes to 252.

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Lamar took office in December 1838 and throughout his three year term opposed Sam Houston on virtually every issue, from annexation to Indian policy to the location of the new nation’s capital. Lamar would no longer seek annexation to the United States, but rather concentrate on seeking recognition of Texas' independence from other countries.  He proposed to drive the Native Americans out of the areas of white settlement and to aggressively defeat the Comanches in the west.  By October 1839, Lamar, the government, and forty ox wagons of papers and furniture journeyed from the city of Houston to take up residence in the new capital city of Austin.

In 1841, his final year in office, Lamar sought to divert part of the Santa Fe Trail commerce to Texas and authorized the Santa Fe expedition, starting a push towards an empire that would stretch to the Pacific Ocean. But he had done this without consulting the Texas Congress, and the expedition was a military and strategic disaster which would affect his reputation for the rest of his life.  Perhaps Lamar's greatest achievement was the passage of legislation setting aside Texas public lands as an endowment for an educational system; earning him the informal title of Father of Texas Education (decades before the reality could meet the vision). 

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Items on display in this exhibit

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Lamar Vest. ATF0302.
The vest was once worn by the first President of the Republic of Texas, Mirabeau B. Lamar and presented to the state in 1904. Constructed out of cotton, leather and needlework, the vest is a fine example of tapestry detail work.

Lamar Dueling Pistols. ATF0269.
This identical pair of pistols was received from Lucius Lamar Moreland in 1895. According to Moreland, son of General Mirabeau Lamar's sister, Mary Ann, his mother kept house with Lamar while he was President of the Republic of Texas. Thereafter Lamar left these pistols with her and never called for them.  These pistols were supposedly used by Lamar in the battle of San Jacinto in 1836.

Lamar Literary Journal, 1828-1843 & undated.
2009/132-1. Mirabeau B. Lamar, known as the Poet President, began writing verse as a young boy, a passion that sustained through adulthood, the presidency and old age. This literary journal presents a sampling of Lamar’s original writing in the form of poems, political essays and newspaper editorials.

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Page last modified: May 20, 2016