Mirabeau Buonaparte Lamar:
An Inventory of the Mirabeau Buonaparte Lamar Papers at the Texas State Archives, 1756-1859, undated, bulk 1821-1859
Mirabeau Buonaparte Lamar, second elected president of the Republic of Texas, was born near Louisville, Georgia, on August 16, 1798, to a successful plantation-owning family. As a young man, Lamar was multi-talented; he rode horses, fenced, wrote poetry, painted in oils, and read widely on a range of topics. He maintained an interest in poetry, literature, and history throughout his life. At an early age, he became Georgia Governor George M. Troup’s personal secretary and founded the newspaper Columbus Enquirer, which served as the organ for the Nullification and State Rights movements. He married Tabitha Jordan on January 1, 1826, and they had one child, Rebecca Ann. He served as state senator in 1829 but ended his 1830 campaign for reelection following the death of his wife. Lamar went on to run for U.S. Congress unsuccessfully in 1832 and 1834. Soon after leaving Georgia in 1835 to settle in the insurgent Mexican province of Texas, Lamar joined the Texas revolutionary army. Over a period of months, he held a succession of military offices, including private, colonel of cavalry, secretary of war, and commander in chief of the army. In 1836, following the cessation of hostilities, Lamar was elected vice president of the newly established Republic of Texas. On December 10, 1838, he succeeded Sam Houston to the presidency.
Texas under Lamar's presidency faced significant challenges; the republic had no money, no commercial treaties, no international recognition except from the United States, and no prospect of U.S. annexation. Native American depredations plagued the settlements, and Mexico refused to recognize Texas independence and threatened reconquest. Within a month of taking office, Lamar proposed the system of education based on land that would, decades later, finally blossom into a school and university system for Texas. This earned him the moniker "Father of Texas Education." By October 1839, he had not only begun the building of the new capital in Austin, but moved the government to the settlement. He went on the offensive militarily, driving the Cherokees out of the state and waging war against the Comanches, at a great loss of life on both sides and significant financial cost. His attempt to expand Texas borders proved unsuccessful; in 1841, without congressional approval, Lamar launched an ill-fated military expedition against the trade center of Santa Fe. Efforts to gain Mexican recognition also failed. Under his administration, Congress authorized the issue of "redbacks," a form of paper money that eventually collapsed. By the end of Lamar's term, his popularity was low and the republic was in financial crisis. Sam Houston, a vocal critic of Lamar's presidency, won the 1841 election and returned for another presidential term.
In his later years, Lamar traveled, wrote poetry, collected historical documents, and spoke out in support of slavery in the South. When Texas was annexed by the United States in 1845 and war broke out again with Mexico in 1846, Lamar joined the U.S. Army. He fought in the battle of Monterrey, helped organize a municipal government in Laredo, and represented the internationally-disputed Nueces and San Patricio counties in the 2nd Texas Legislature. He remarried in 1851; the following year, he and his wife Henrietta had a daughter, Loretto. In 1857, he became U.S. minister to Nicaragua and Costa Rica. On December 19, 1859, shortly after returning from Central America, Lamar died at his plantation in Richmond, Texas.
(Sources include: Gambrell, Herbert. "Lamar, Mirabeau Buonaparte," Handbook of Texas Online; "Mirabeau B. Lamar," Texas Treasures: Giants of Texas History online exhibit by the Texas State Library and Archives Commission; and "Mirabeau B. Lamar: Texas Patriot and President (1798-1859)," Texas Moves Toward Statehood online exhibit by the Texas State Library and Archives Commission, all accessed December 14, 2016; and Green, Michael R., editor. Calendar of the Papers of Mirabeau Buonaparte Lamar, Texas State Library, 1982.)
Mirabeau Buonaparte Lamar, second president of the Republic of Texas, was a soldier, statesman, poet, and historian. These are Lamar's personal and official papers as well as material gathered by Lamar as a collector of historical documents with a particular interest in the histories of Texas and Latin American republics. Documents include correspondence, historical manuscripts, clippings, drafts, notes, editorials, poems, maps, reports, legal documents, histories of Texas and Mexico, and biographies of prominent regional figures. Dates are 1756-1859 and undated, bulk 1821-1859. The papers focus on the geographical areas of Texas (1733-1859) and her parent nation, Mexico (1733-1848), as well as the Central American countries of Nicaragua (1850-1859) and Costa Rica (1857-1859), and to a lesser extent the states of Georgia (1813-1859), Louisiana (1733-1857), and Alabama (1819-1859).
Major events in Texas documented in the papers include: the Franco-Spanish rivalry (1733-1803); the establishment of the San Saba mission (1756); the Philip Nolan expedition (1801); the colonization efforts by Father John Brady, the Lewis and Clark expedition, and Tensas (Taensa) and Koasati (Coushatta) Indian migrations (1804); the empresario contract of Felipe Enrique Neri, the Baron de Bastrop (1805); the Herrera-Wilkinson Neutral Ground agreement and the Thomas Freeman expedition (also called the Red River expedition) (1806); the privateering activities of the Lafitte brothers (1810-1819); the insurrection of Juan Bautista de las Casas (1811); the Gutiérrez and Magee expedition (1813); the establishment of Champ d'Asile by Napoleonic exiles (1817); the James Long expedition (1819); Moses Austin, Stephen F. Austin, and initial Anglo-American colonization (1821); the Fredonian Rebellion (1826); the disturbances at Anahuac, the capture of Fort Velasco, and the Turtle Bayou Resolutions (1832); the rout of the Mexican garrison at Anahuac, the capture of Goliad by Texas insurgents, the battle of Concepción, the "Grass Fight," the siege and fall of Bexar, the boarding and capture of the Hannah Elizabeth, and the ill-fated Matamoros expedition (1835); the siege and fall of the Alamo, the battle of Coleto and the subsequent Goliad Massacre, the Declaration of Texas Independence, the battle of San Jacinto, the Treaties of Velasco and imprisonment of Santa Anna, and General Filisola's retreat (1836); activities of the Texas Navy (1836-1841); efforts to secure loans and recognition from the United States (1836-1845); the Mexican treaty with the Cherokee and Sam Houston's negotiations with that Indian tribe (1837); U.S.-Texas boundary controversy (1837-1839); Lamar's negotiations with the Lipan Apache and General De Castro, the dissolution of the Texas Army, the Madden-Edens (Edens-Madden) massacre, and Cherokee boundary settlement (1838); the Córdova Rebellion, the Dawson contract and the recreation of the Texas Navy, and the removal of the archives to the new capital, Austin (1839); the Linnville raid and battle of Plum Creek, and recognition by France (1840); the Texan Santa Fé Expedition (1841); the annexation of Texas (1845-1846); the Compromise of 1850; and other domestic and foreign affairs to 1859. Additional significant individuals represented in the papers include James Hamilton, Jr., José Antonio Navarro, Hugh McLeod, Edward Burleson, David G. Burnet, Thomas J. Green, and Barnard Elliott Bee, Sr.
Events in Mexico include: the Mexican War of Independence (1810-1821); Benjamin O'Fallon's insurrection (1819); the restoration of Lorenzo de Zavala to the governorship of Mexico (1829); insurrection at Zacatecas (1835); Hamilton P. Bee's unsuccessful diplomatic mission (1839); the Federación Wars (1839-1840); the Yucatán Revolt and intervention of the Texas Navy (1840); and other events interrelated and more closely identified with Texas.
Central American events include: the Clayton-Bulwer Treaty (1850); William Walker's filibustering expedition (1855-1857); the Rivas Convention, Cass-Irizarri Treaty, Belly Canal Contract (1858); and the Lamar-Zeledon Treaty (1859).
Events identified with the state of Georgia are: the Crawford-Clarke rivalry (1807-1823); the founding and development of the Columbus Enquirer (1828-1835); Nullification and the State Rights movement (1828-1859); removal of the Creek Indians (1830); the Augusta Commercial Convention (1838); and the interaction of Lamar with prominent Georgians, particularly members of the Columbus Land Company, after his departure for Texas in 1835.
Events in the states of Louisiana and Alabama figure less prominently in the collection, but the following occurrences, extraneous to the history of Texas, do appear: Alexandre Dupont's quicksilver mining venture (1790); the establishment of the Cahawba Press (1832); the yellow fever epidemic in New Orleans and the coastal United States (1839); and the Southern Commercial Convention at Mobile, Alabama (1855).
Significant incidents outlined in the 1981 accession of papers include: Lamar's boyhood associations with James Clark, Alfred Iverson, and Nathan Sargent (1819-1821); editing the Village Miscellany (1820); the election of Lamar to command a company of Georgia militia (1825); the partition of the Burwell Jordan estate (1826); the establishment of the Columbus Enquirer (1828-1836); land speculation (1835-1857); the mutiny of the Texas Army and election of Sam Houston (1836); the founding of the new capital at Austin, Texas, and the shooting of Jefferson Jackson Lamar (1840); the Texan Santa Fé Expedition (1841); Rebecca Ann Lamar's death and a quarrel between Mirabeau Lamar and Memucan Hunt (1843); involvement with a New York literary coterie (1845); a lawsuit brought by Sam Houston against Lamar (1846-1848); a tour of the Laredo garrison and duties as inspector general of the Texas Division during the Mexican War (1848); attempts by James Hamilton to secure a diplomatic post for Lamar (1853-1857); business partnership with Jane Long (1853-1857); the Southern Commercial Convention at Mobile, Alabama (1855); the suicide of Senator Thomas Jefferson Rusk, Lewis Cass's acceptance of the portfolio of U.S. Secretary of State, publication of Verse Memorials, and Lamar's departure for Central America (1857); and activities as Minister Plenipotentiary to Nicaragua and Costa Rica (1858-1859).
The 1909 Loretto Lamar Calder accession of papers makes up the bulk of the collection, and contains Lamar's state and personal papers as well as collected historical material dating 1756-1859 and undated. Additional papers from the 1981 Larry Bane accession consist of material separated from the original accession prior to 1909. These papers include approximately 450 letters, drafts, documents, and printed matter that detail Lamar's private life as well as some additional historical material collected by Lamar, dating 1806-1859 and undated. A detailed chronological listing of both accessions can be found in the 1982 publication Calendar of the Papers of Mirabeau Buonaparte Lamar, listed in the Other Finding Aids section of this finding aid. The calendar was originally published in 1914, and was reprinted in 1982 with the addition of the 1981 Larry Bane accession, an addenda and errata section, and updated introductory matter. The 1982 calendar groups the accessions independently, each in chronological order with assigned item numbers, with an integrated index. The 1981 Larry Bane accession also included the Lamar family papers, approximately 200 items consisting largely of personal correspondence of Lamar family members. The Lamar family papers were also calendared and are described in a separate card file and internal finding aid listed in the Related Material section of this finding aid. They are not included in the published calendar or this finding aid.
The 1982 edition of the Calendar of the Papers of Mirabeau Buonaparte Lamar contains not only the calendared papers, but also a preface and introduction with a brief Lamar biography, a detailed account of the provenance and accession history of the papers, an extensive scope and content description, and an addenda and errata section. While some information in this finding aid is taken directly from the calendar--including the above listing of geographic areas, events, and other subjects--its introductory matter contains a wealth of additional biographical, provenance, and scope and content information for the collection. The published calendar includes dates, names, location, a brief summary of the content, number of pages, and other descriptive notes regarding format or condition for each item. It also assigns a document number to each item, which can be used to locate the physical box number for the item in the inventory of this finding aid.
Restrictions on Access
Materials do not circulate, but may be used in the State Archives search room. Materials will be retrieved from and returned to storage areas by Archives staff.
Restrictions on Use
The original 1909 accession of the Mirabeau Buonaparte Lamar papers, the bulk of the collection, has been transcribed and made available for use in six published volumes (see Related Material). Researchers wishing to examine the original documents must handle them with great care due to their age and delicate condition.
(Identify the item), Mirabeau Buonaparte Lamar papers. Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.
Accession numbers: 1909/001 and 1981/121
The initial accession of papers was purchased from Loretto Lamar Calder, daughter of Mirabeau B. Lamar, by the governor of the state through an appropriation in Senate Bill 113 (31st Texas Legislature, Regular Session). The bill was signed into law on March 19, 1909, and the papers were deposited in the Texas State Library and Archives. The Texas State Library and Archives Commission purchased a second accession of Lamar papers from Larry Bane, a Lamar descendant, through a Moody Foundation grant on January 19, 1981. The Larry Bane accession was organized into two series: Mirabeau Lamar papers (Series I) and Lamar family papers (Series II). Series I has been incorporated into this finding aid and treated as part of a larger series of Mirabeau Buonaparte Lamar papers along with the original 1909 accession. Series II is described in a separate finding aid and card file (see Related Material).
The 1982 edition of the Calendar of the Papers of Mirabeau Buonaparte Lamar contains detailed information on the provenance of both accessions. In addition, the Lamar family papers may provide further insight into the history of the Lamar papers following his death.
Processing by Archives staff and Calendar of the Papers of Mirabeau Buonaparte Lamar published, 1914
Papers transcribed, edited and published as The Papers of Mirabeau Buonaparte Lamar, volumes 1-6, by Charles Adams Gulick, Jr., Katherine Elliott, Winnie Allen, and Harriet Smither, 1921-1927
Additional processing by Archives staff, 1930, 1968, 1980, and dates unknown
Calendar of the Papers of Mirabeau Buonaparte Lamar, including an expanded addenda and errata section and a calendar of the Bane accession, compiled and edited by Michael R. Green, 1982
DACS-compliant EAD finding aid created by Caitlin Burhans, November 2016
Other Finding Aids
Calendar of the papers of Mirabeau Buonaparte Lamar, edited by Elizabeth Howard West, Von-Boeckmann-Jones Co., 1914.
The Papers of Mirabeau Buonaparte Lamar, 6 volumes, edited by C.A. Gulick and K. Elliott (vols. 1-3), C.A. Gulick and W. Allen (vol. 4), and H. Smither (vols. 5-6), AMS Press, 1973. [These volumes transcribe the papers from the original 1909 accession, and do not include documents separated and then returned to the collection as described in the 1982 calendar's addenda and errata section.]
Calendar of the papers of Mirabeau Buonaparte Lamar, compiled and edited by Michael R. Green, Texas State Library, 1982. [The 1982 calendar has been digitized and is part of the Texas Digital Archive, available online at https://tsl.access.preservica.com/tda/manuscripts/lamar-collection/.]
Detailed Description of the Papers