The Kemp Sketch
LAMAR, MIRABEAU BUONAPARTE -- Born August 16, 1798, on a plantation near Louisville, Warren County, Georgia, the second of nine children of John and Rebecca (Lamar) Lamar. Thomas Lamar, grandfather of Mirabeau B. Lamar, had five children, two of whom were (1) John and (2) Thomas Lamar. John Lamar, Jr., father of Mirabeau B., was a son of (1) John Lamar. Rebecca Lamar, mother of Mirabeau B., was a daughter of (2) Thomas Lamar. The parents of Mirabeau B. Lamar were thus first cousins. The children of John and Rebecca (Lamar) Lamar in order of birth were Lucius Quintius Cincinnatus, Mirabeau B., Jefferson Jackson, Thomas Randolph, Lavosier Legrand, Evalina, Mary, Ann, Aurelia, Louisa and Loretta Lamar. In 1810 the family moved to Putnam County, Georgia. In about 1820 Mirabeau left home to open a mercantile store in Cahawba, Alabama. In 1822 he became editor of the town's newspaper, the Cahawba Press. The following year he returned to Georgia and through the influence of former Congressman Joel Crawford was appointed private secretary to Governor George M. Troup. On January 1, 1826, he was married to Tabitha Burnwell Jordan, daughter of Burnwell Jordan, at Perry, Alabama, and the two settled on the plantation of Lamar's parents in Georgia. In 1827, a daughter Rebecca Ann, was born to them. In 1828 Mr. Lamar moved to Columbus, Georgia, and on April 22nd of that year he published the first issue of the Columbus Enquirer. This paper, now called the Columbus Enquirer-Sun, is today one of the leading dailies of Georgia. In the summer of 1833 Mr. Lamar was an independent candidate for Congress but was defeated. Later in that year, Mrs. Lamar died, survived by her husband and a daughter, Rebecca Ann.
In 1835 Mr. Lamar visited Texas, arriving at Nacogdoches in July of that year. He proceeded to Cole's Settlement, where Independence in Washington County now stands. So favorably impressed was he with the reception he received and with the opportunities the country presented that he declared his intention of becoming a citizen of Texas. At Washington, complying with a request that he deliver an address, he took occasion to declare in favor of the independence of Texas from Mexico. He selected a headright near that of the founder of the settlement, John P. Coles, and employed Horatio Chriesman to survey it at once, Lamar leaving for San Felipe to secure his title. Upon his arrival he found the land office closed but was informed by Stephen F. Austin that he could return to Georgia without forfeiting his rights. He next visited Brazoria on his way to take the boat at Velasco. There he contributed to a fund to rebuild the old fort at Velasco which had been badly damaged in 1832 when the Texans under Captain John Austin had forced its surrender from the Mexicans.
It was in the latter part of November that Mr. Lamar set sail for Velasco for his home in Georgia and on his return he reached Velasco about March 24, 1836, on the Schooner Flash. With him was William D. Redd of Columbus, Georgia. At Harrisburg on April 10th he wrote to his brother Jefferson that he was leaving that day for the Texas army. He reached the main army at its camp on the plantation on the Brazos of Leonard W. Grace in what is now Waller County and enlisted as a private. At San Jacinto on April 20th be displayed such bravery and skill in the skirmish with Santa Anna's army that he was on the next morning selected to command the two companies of cavalry. This he did as a private, in spite of the fact that in his official report of the Battle General Houston referred to him as "Colonel Mirabeau B. Lamar". During the skirmish Lamar prevented a Mexican soldier from shooting a man who in later years played a prominent part in the affairs of the State, Private Walter P. Lane. No less conspicuous was Lamar's bravery in the decisive battle on April 21, as was testified to by both Commander-in-chief Sam Houston and Thomas Jefferson Rusk, Secretary of War, who in their official reports commended him for gallantry. Lamar's ability was recognized by President ad interim David G. Burnet, who, at the reorganization of his cabinet on the battlefield on May 4th, selected him as Secretary of War, Rusk having been appointed Brigadier General in command of the army pending the recovery of General Houston from the serious wounds he had received in battle. On June 24th he was appointed Brigadier General of the Army, succeeding General Rusk. The army, now made up largely of men who had arrived in Texas since the Battle of San Jacinto, would not receive him as Commander-in-chief, and he resigned.
It seems that a controversy arose as to why Lamar had been chosen to command the cavalry at San Jacinto. Following are some of the explanations offered. Captain Isaac N. Moreland, Houston, wrote the following letter to Lamar, September 6, 1839: "Your note of this morning is before me, by which I am informed that a report has gone abroad, that you attempted to supplant me, who was then the oldest officer in the rank of the Artillery for duty, at the Battle of San Jacinto -- this I deny so far as any knowledge of your conduct about that time came to me -- In like manner I am also informed that upon the attempt reported to have been made to supplant me some altercation ensued between us? To this Dart of the assertion I give the most unqualified denial -- For so far from any thing of the kind having occurred I am proud to say that the only time I recollect of having spoken to you on that day was -- after you were mounted to join the cavalry on that occasion and up on the very eve of the Battle at which time we met, as I hope we ever shall, upon most friendly terms and spoke of the probable success of the attack we were about to make".
Jacob De Cordova in his biographical sketch of Lamar on pages 181-182 of his Texas Her Resources and Her Public Men, published in 1858 said: "Lamar received a severe wound in a knee by striking it against the pommel of one of the Mexican saddles. On the next day, when the army was forming for battle, Lamar was requested by General Houston to take charge of the artillery in the place of Neel who was wounded by he declined to do so. Gen. Houston then asked him to command the cavalry but this he also declined to do. Colonel Rusk then invited him to accompany him as an aide-de-camp on his staff to which he assented but as they rode off together the cavalry called loudly for Lamar to return and assume command, which he refused to do until the officers of the cavalry galloped up to him themselves and said it was their wish as well as that of the men that he should command."
General Lamar was issued Donation Certificate No. 3 for 640 acres of land May 14, 1838 for having participated in the Battle of San Jacinto. On January 25, 1838 he received a Headright Certificate for a league and labor of land from the Board of Land Commissioners for Brazoria County. He did not apply for his bounty land until September 15, 1858, and in the certificate issued for 320 acres of land for three months service in the army, the dates of his enlistment in, and discharge from, the army are not given. After retiring from the army, he settled in what is now Fort Bend County, which was then a part of Brazoria County.
In the election held September 5, 1836, General Houston was elected President, and General Lamar Vice-President of the Republic. They were inaugurated at Columbia, October 22nd of that year. At the election held September 3, 1838, Lamar was a candidate for the presidency, opposed by Robert Wilson, Peter W. Grayson and James Collinsworth. A bitter contest ensued, with Houston exerting his influence for Grayson. Grayson and Collinsworth both committed suicide before election day and Lamar defeated "Honest Bob" Wilson by a vote of 6,995 to 252. He was inaugurated December 10, 1838 in front of the capitol in Houston where now stands the Rice Hotel. On account of his failing health, Congress on December 13, 1840, passed a joint resolution granting him a leave of absence, which he spent at the home of Dr. Asa Hoxey at Independence. Vice President David G. Burnet acted as president until his return to Austin March 5, 1841.
President Lamar's widowed mother and his daughter came to Texas from Stewart County, Georgia, in 1839. Mrs. Lamar had her will prepared on July 24, 1839, but was too ill to sign it. She died on the 26th and was buried in the City Cemetery, now on West Dallas Avenue in Houston. In her will, Mrs. Lamar left all of her property to the lawful issue of her daughter Mary Ann by her husband Joseph Moreland. It was specified, however, that the property was not to be distributed until after Mrs. Moreland's death. At the time of her demise, Mrs. Lamar possessed three slaves -- John, aged about 27, Amanda, aged about 18, and Alice, aged about 10 years. Her sons, Mirabeau B. Lamar and Jefferson J. Lamar of Stewart County Georgia, were named as executors of her estate.
The San Jacinto Chapter of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas placed a marker at the site of the Lamar home in Houston in 1928. At Austin his home stood where St. Mary's School is now located.
Due to lack of educational facilities in Texas, Rebecca Ann Lamar was sent to the home of relatives in Macon, Georgia, where she was placed in school. There on July 29, 1843, she passed away.
General Lamar raised a company of volunteers for Service in the war between the United States and Mexico and joined General Zachary Taylor's army at Monterrey, Mexico, on October 6, 1846, and participated in the Battle of Monterrey. His organization was ordered disbanded at Camargo October 1, 1847 Governor James Pinckney Henderson on October 21st authorized him to raise a company of state troops to be stationed at Laredo. While serving as captain he was, on November 1, 1847, elected to the House of Representatives from Nueces and San Patricio Counties to the Second Legislature, December 13, 1837 to November 5, 1849. At this time he considered Galveston County as his home. Proof of this is found in a deed recorded in Book C, page 279 of the Deed Records of Travis County from which the following was extracted: "Know all men by these presents that I, Mirabeau B. Lamar of said (Galveston) County, but at present temporarily residing in the town of Laredo. . . ." He was defeated for Speaker of the House by James W. Henderson of Houston by a vote of 34 to 24.
When his term in the Legislature had expired General Lamar left Texas for a visit to Georgia and did not return until 1851.
In 1851 General Lamar was married at Galveston to Henrietta Maffit, daughter of the Rev. John Newland Maffit and sister of Commodore John Newland Maffit, who held the rank of commodore in the Confederate States Navy in the War between the States. A twin sister of Miss Maffit, Matilda, was married to R. D. Johnson of Galveston. Shortly after their marriage, General and Mrs. Lamar removed to their plantation home near Richmond, Texas.
In 1857, General Lamar was sent by the United States Government to Nicaragua to secure the ratification of a treaty that had been signed at Washington between the two governments. On July 23, 1857, he had been appointed Minister Resident of the United States to the Argentine Confederation, but before he set sail for Buenos Aires, he was notified of his later and more important assignment to Nicaragua. After resigning his position in Nicaragua, General Lamar arrived at Galveston October 8, 1859. On December 19th of that year, he died at his home near Richmond. For twenty-five years after the death of husband, Mrs. Lamar lived on her plantation. In 1883 she moved to Galveston with her only child, Loretta, wife of Samuel Douglass Calder, who was a son of Captain and Mrs. Robert J. Calder. Accompanied by her daughter, she went to the mountain home of Asa M. Lewis at Santa Anna in Coleman County, for her health. There she died October 6, 189l of pulmonary tuberculosis and her remains were carried to Richmond to be placed at the side of her husband in the Masonic Cemetery. The funeral services were conducted by the Rev. C. M. Beckwith, Rector of Christ Episcopal Church of Houston. She was a communicant of Trinity Parish in Galveston.
Written by Louis W. Kemp, between 1930 and 1952. Please note that typographical and factual errors have not been corrected from the original sketches. The biographies have been scanned from the original typescripts, a process that sometimes allows for mistakes in the new text. Researchers should verify the accuracy of the texts' contents through other sources before quoting in publications. Additional information on the veteran may be available in the Herzstein Library.
- Died in Battle: No
- Rank: Colonel
- Company: Cavalry
- Alternate Names: Lemar
- Date of Birth: 1798 Aug 16
- Birthplace: Georgia, Warren County
- Origin: Georgia
- Came to Texas: 1835
- Date of Death: 1859 Dec 19
- Comments: U.S.-Mexican War; VP and President of Texas
- Donation Certificate: 3
- Wife: 1. Tabitha Burnwell Jordan; 2. Henrietta Maffit
- Children: Rebecca Ann Lamar; Loretto Evalina Lamar Calder