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Historically Fort Bend: Mirabeau Lamar: Texas Revolutionary


Statue of Lamar outside the Fort Bend County Courthouse in Richmond;

Statue of Lamar outside the Fort Bend County Courthouse in Richmond;

Mirabeau Buonaparte Lamar was born in Louisville, Georgia on August 16, 1798, the second son of John and Rebecca Lamar. From an early age, he was interested in reading, art and poetry. In 1819, he moved to Alabama and tried to be a merchant and newspaper editor but found no success. He married Tabitha Jordan in 1826. Soon after, they had a daughter, Rebecca. In 1830, his wife died and by 1834 he had lost two bids for the U.S. Congress. Thrown into a depression, Lamar traveled west to Texas.

He arrived in Texas in 1835 to write its history and was immediately captivated by its possibilities. Hostilities broke out in Texas while Lamar was back in Georgia tending to arrangements there. He rushed back to Texas making it in time to enlist in the Texas Army as a private in the cavalry just before the Battle of San Jacinto. The day before the battle, Lamar saved the life of a comrade during a skirmish and was promoted to Colonel and given command of the cavalry during the battle. The cavalry performed well and in May, Lamar was made Secretary of War. He was appointed Commander in Chief of the Texas Army in June. By the end of October, Lamar was elected Vice President of the Republic of Texas.

In 1837, he purchased land near Richmond from Jane Long and built his house. In 1838, Lamar was elected President of Texas. During his administration, Lamar unsuccessfully tended to a fragile economy while trying to strengthen the country’s defense and increase its land holdings. He also attempted to secure recognition and loans from European nations with mixed results. Lamar was more successful with his reorganization of the government, push for accountability, and adoption of a municipal law code. He is best known for the approval of a permanent public education system funded by appropriations of land that would support county schools and state universities. This funding was eventually responsible for the establishment of the University of Texas and Texas A&M University. Lamar is
commonly called the “Father of Texas Education.” It is fitting that Lamar University in Beaumont is named for him as are numerous other Texas public schools of every level.

After the end of his term in office in 1841, Lamar retired to his home in Richmond and continued his writing. He again fell into depression after his daughter Rebecca died in 1843, and traveled around the country. When the Mexican War started in 1846, he rushed back to Texas to join the U.S. army. After distinguished service in the war, Lamar returned to his writing. In 1851, he married Henrietta Maffitt. They had one daughter, Loretto Evalina. He held one more public appointment as Minister to Nicaragua and Costa Rica from 1857 to 1858. He returned home to Richmond and died of a heart attack in 1859. He is buried in Morton Cemetery in Richmond.

Historical facts and photos courtesy of the Fort Bend County Museum Association, Richmond, TX
Lamar’s grave at Morton Cemetery

Lamar’s grave at Morton Cemetery

Copy of a daguerreotype of Henrietta and Loretto Lamar with a slave.

Copy of a daguerreotype of Henrietta and Loretto Lamar with a slave.

Bibliography:

Christian, A. K. “Mirabeau Buonaparte Lamar.” The Southwestern Historical Quarterly 23, no. 3  (January 1920): 153-170.

Finn, Loretta Tobe. “Mirabeau B. Lamar – Southern Crusader in Texas.” M.A. thesis, University of Texas, 1972.

Gambrell, Herbert. “Lamar, Mirabeau Buonaparte,” Handbook of Texas Online

(http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fla15), Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

Sowell, Andrew J. History of Fort Bend County. Houston: W. H. Coyle & Co., 1904.

Wharton, Clarence. History of Fort Bend County. San Antonio: The Naylor Company, 1939.

Reprint, Austin: Eakin Press/Sunbelt Media Inc., 2001.
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