Mirabeau B. Lamar's Texas Journal
Vandiver, Frank E.
Master of Arts
Mirabeau B. Lamar of Georgia, a poet, journalist, and would-be politician, first visited Texas in 1835. He traveled by stagecoach and steamboat as far as Natchitoches, Louisiana, where he took to horseback and followed the Old San Antonio Road into Texas. During his four-month sojourn, Lamar made numerous acquaintances and learned much about Texas' history, colonization, climate, economy, etc. He was particularly intrigued by the political situation in Texas, which was on the verge of separating from Mexico, by war if necessary, and establishing herself as an independent republic. He decided to join in this struggle; he went home briefly to settle his affairs, and returned to Texas just in time to distinguish himself at the Battle of San Jacinto on April 21, 1836, and to rise from the rank of private to commander-in-chief of the army in a period of four weeks. Subsequently, Texans elected Lamar Vice-President and then President of the Republic. His major accomplishments were the early recognition by major European powers of Texas as an independent state, and the establishment of a foresighted system of public education. After his one term as President, Lamar retired from public life, except stint as U. S. Minister to Costa Rica and Nicaragua, until his death in 1859. On his 1835 trip from Georgia to Texas, Lamar kept a manuscript diary, which now belongs to Fondren Library, Rice University. This thesis is the edited Texas portion of the diary, which covers most of July, August, September, and October of 1835. The journal is written in continuous narrative form, with frequent historical or descriptive passages inserted. Lamar was a keen observer of his surroundings, and he recorded his observations faithfully. Although at times Lamar seemed more concerned with literary style than with historical observation or political commentary, the journal is nonetheless significant. It is the previously unpublished work of an important figure at a crucial period in Texas history. Even more important, it may offer to future biographers new evidence which may allow a more detailed and intimate portrayal of Lamars character, attitudes, beliefs, and personality than has previously been possible.