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Anson Jones

From Academic Kids

Anson Jones (January 20, 1798January 9, 1858) was a doctor, businessman, congressman, and the last president of the Republic of Texas, sometimes called the "Architect of Annexation."

Jones was born in Seekonkville, Massachusetts. In 1820, Jones was licensed as a doctor by the Oneida, New York, Medical Society, and began practicing. However, his practice didn't prosper, and he moved several more times before finally being arrested in Philadelphia by a creditor. He stayed in Philadelphia for a few more years, teaching and practicing medicine, until in 1824 he decided to go to Venezuela.

Later, Jones returned to Philadelphia, earned an M.D., and reopened his practice. Still, Jones never had much success as a doctor, and in 1832 he renounced medicine and headed for New Orleans, where he entered the mercantile trade. Once again, though, Jones' dreams were thwarted. Though he safely weathered two plagues, his business efforts never met with any success and within a year he was broke.

In 1833 Jones headed west to Texas, settling eventually in Brazoria. Here, at last, he met with success, establishing a medical practice that prospered quickly. But if Jones was looking for a quiet life in Texas, he would not find it. In 1835 he began to speak out about the growing tensions between Texas and Mexico, and that year he attended The Consultation, a meeting held at Columbia by Texas patriots to discuss the fight with Mexico (the meeting's leadership didn't want to call the meeting a "convention," for fear the Mexican government would view it as an independence forum, though this surely is what it was). Jones himself presented a resolution at the Consultation calling for a convention to be held to declare independence, but he himself refused to be nominated to the convention.

During the Texas Revolution, Jones served as a judge advocate and surgeon to the Texas army, though he insisted on holding the rank of private throughout the conflict. After the war, Jones returned to Brazoria and resumed his medical practice.

Upon his return to Brazoria, Jones found that James Collinsworth, a fellow Texas patriot (albeit one who did not serve in the army) and signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence from Brazoria, had set up a law practice in Jones' office. Jones evicted Collinsworth and challenged him to a duel (though the duel never occurred).

Jones and Collinsworth would spar again. Collinsworth was instrumental in starting the Texas Railroad, Navigation, and Banking Company, to which Jones was vehemently opposed. Jones was elected to the Second Texas Congress as an opponent of the Company; however, his most significant act in Congress was to call for the withdrawal of the Texas proposal for annexation by the United States. He also helped draw up legislation to regulate medical practice, and called for the establishment of an endowment for a university.

Jones expected to return to his practice at Brazoria after his term in Congress, but Texas President Sam Houston instead appointed him Minister to the United States, where Jones was to formally withdraw the annexation proposal.

During this time, while many Texans hoped to encourage eventual annexation by the United States, there were some who supported waiting for annexation or even remaining independent. The United States, in the late 1830s, was hestitant to annex Texas for fear of engendering war with Mexico. Jones and others felt it was important that Texas gain recognition from European states and begin to set up trade relations with them, to make annexation of Texas more attractive to the United States or, failing that, to give Texas the strength to remain independent.

Jones was recalled to Texas by new president Mirabeau Lamar in 1839. Back at home, he found himself elected to a partial term in the Senate, where he quickly became a critic of Lamar's administration. He retired from the Senate in 1841, declining the opportunity to serve as Vice President in favor of returning to his medical practice. However, late in 1841 he was named Texas Secretary of State by president Sam Houston, who had been recently been elected president again by opponents of Lamar.

Jones served as Secretary of State until 1844. During his term, the main goal of Texas foreign policy was to get either an offer of annexation from the United States, or a recognition of Texas independence from Mexico, or, preferably, both at the same time.

In September 1844, Jones was elected president of the Republic of Texas, despite running a virtually silent campaign. That November, James K. Polk was elected president of the United States on a promise of Texas annexation. However, Jones held his silence on the subject, preferring to wait for the ideal outcome of simultaneous annexation and independence offers. This proved unpopular. Late in 1844, the Texas Congress declared for joining the United States, and popular sentiment in the republic for annexation grew. As the months went on with no word from Jones, his citizens burned him in effigy and threatened to overthrow his government. Through this Jones continued to wait.

Finally, in June 1845, Jones' emissary to Mexico returned with a treaty recognizing the republic's independence. At last he put the question before the people--accept the offer of annexation from the United States, or sign the independence treaty from Mexico and remain an independent state. The Congress and the people went for annexation.

Preparations began for annexation, and Jones' role as president was greatly diminished. On February 19, 1846, a formal ceremony was held to bring Texas into the United States. Jones, in his last official act, declared that, "The Republic of Texas is no more." Then he retired to Brazoria.

Jones hoped that the new Texas state legislature would send him to the United States Senate, but he was not chosen, and as time went on he became increasingly bitter about this slight. Although Jones prospered as a planter and eventually amassed an enormous estate, he was never able to get past the fact that Sam Houston was chosen over him to represent Texas in Washington, D.C.

In 1857, Jones became convinced that the legislature would finally send him to the Senate, but he received no votes and became deeply depressed. He committed suicide on January 9, 1858.

Jones County, and its county seat, Anson, were both named for Anson Jones. His plantation home, known as Barrington, is preserved at Washington-on-the-Brazos State Historic Park.


Preceded by:
Sam Houston
(second term)
President of the Republic of Texas
1844–1846
Succeeded by:
Texas annexed by the United States

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