A Guide to the Mirabeau B. Lamar Papers, 1825-1846
First President of the Republic of Texas, poet, and historian Mirabeau Buonaparte Lamar (1798-1859) was born in Georgia. After attending academies near Milledgeville and Eatonton, Georgia, Lamar owned a general store, worked as a secretary for the governor of Georgia, and published the Columbia Enquirer. In 1829, Lamar became a state senator, but during his reelection campaign in 1830 he resigned due to the death of his wife. He unsuccessfully ran for United States Congress in 1832 and 1834. Following his last loss, Lamar sold his interests in the Enquirer and traveled to Texas. He supported Texas independence immediately and, after helping to build a fort, returned to Georgia to settle his affairs. Upon hearing about the Goliad Massacre and the Siege of the Alamo, he returned to Texas in time to join the Texas Army at Groce’s Point. After fighting in the battle of San Jacinto, Lamar became Secretary of War in David G. Burnet’s cabinet. Briefly in May 1836, Lamar became a major general and commander-in-chief of the army, but soon resigned due to the rank and file troops’ disapproval of his appointment.
By September 1836, Lamar was elected vice president of the Republic of Texas in the first statewide election. After spending most of his term in Georgia, publicizing the new republic, he returned in 1837, founded the Philosophical Society of Texas, and began his campaign for President. Lamar won in a landslide the following year, due to the suicides of his opponents. As president from 1838 until 1841, he opposed annexation, issued large amounts of paper money, took a stern stance on Indians, instigated the ill-fated Texan Santa Fe Expedition, and established on paper a public education system endowed by public lands.
A largely unpopular president, Lamar retired to his plantation at Richmond in 1841 to write poetry and collect historical documents. After the death of his daughter Rebecca Ann in 1843, Lamar traveled through the southern U.S. writing poetry. During the period between 1844 and 1857 Lamar became a U. S. Senator, reversed his opinion on annexation, fought in the Mexican War as a lieutenant, became a Texas legislator, remarried, and was appointed a U. S. minister to Nicaragua and Costa Rica. In 1859, Lamar died of a heart attack at his plantation near Richmond, Texas.
Handbook of Texas Online, s.v. "Lamar, Mirabeau Buonaparte," http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/LL/fla15.html (accessed July 22, 2010).
Correspondence, a journal, poems, a scrapbook, a book of handwritten poetry, and a passport comprise the Mirabeau B. Lamar Papers, 1825-1846, and relate to Lamar’s political, military, and personal activities. The correspondence consists of transcripts of letters to Lamar from his brother and sister in Alabama and photostats of letters from Lamar in 1846 at Laredo reporting on his unit’s activities. One letter is addressed to Zachary Taylor. The journal, "Journal of My Travels," 1835, documents Lamar’s journey from Georgia, through Mobile Alabama; New Orleans and Natchitoches, Louisiana; and Nacogdoches, Texas. In this journal, Lamar comments on the towns through which he passed and the people he met. The papers contain both a photostatic and a typescript copy of the journal. Additionally, the papers document Lamar’s interest in poetry and include a copy of a poem written for Mrs. Anna Loyal Cowles, "Song to Mrs. Anna Cowles," and a transcript of the poetry collection Lines to the Reverend Edward Fontaine. Furthermore, the papers contain a passport for Sash-ce-Zinda of the Sarretakes Tribe signed by Lamar in 1849, a photostatic drawing of the Republic of Texas flag signed by Lamar and David G. Burnet, and a scrapbook.
The collection is open for research.
Mirabeau B. Lamar Papers, 1825-1846, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin.
This collection was revised by Stefanie Wittenbach, July 1984
Detailed Description of the Papers