The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 26, July 1922 - April, 1923

Southwestern Historical Quarterly

LIFE AND SERVICE OF JOHN BIRDSALL1
ADELE B. LOOSCAN
Preliminary to a sketch of the services of Judge John Birdsall
to the Republic of Texas, a glance at the condition of govern-
mental affairs soon after the Battle of San Jacinto and during
the first term of Houston's administration seems necessary.
The careful student of that period of history comprised under
the "Provisional Government," is strongly impressed by the fre-
quent changes in the members of President Burnet's cabinet. The
time was turbulent in the extreme; the rapid execution of im-
portant measures became more and more urgent, as adverse cir-
cumstances encompassed this little band of civic patriots. Deaths
by accident, withdrawals from service on account of chronic illness,
depleted the cabinet as originally formed, while the imperative
need of efficient Commissioners to the United States in behalf of
recognition, and the establishment of diplomatic relations, further
contributed to change the personnel of government officials. De-
moralization, following closely in the train of victory, encouraged
discontent, and this, united with treachery, threatened to destroy
the sole nucleus of order and safety. That no constructive fabric
of government could grow under these conditions is self-evident,
and in this conclusion there is no disparagement intended of the
'Circumstances having placed in my hands letters and documents inac-
cessible to students, induced me to collect from other sources all available
material for illustrating the character and service of John Birdsall, Attor-
ney General of the Republic of Texas.
I am indebted to Colonel Andrew J. Houston for documents and letters
culled from his father's official correspondence; these while few in number,
yet afford an insight into the important contributions made by this officer
to the development and formation of the new government of Texas. Were
no others obtainable, they alone would constitute a memorial, tardy and
incomplete though it be, to a worthy man, whose service has hitherto been
unappreciated, because unknown.
My thanks are due to Miss Elizabeth West, State Librarian, and her
assistant, IMiss Elliott, for lists of subjects handled by him while Attorney
General and Acting Secretary of State; to James Sullivan, State Historian
of New York, for confirmation of his official service in that State; and to
E. W. Winkler, Reference Librarian of the University of Texas, for impor-
tant items from books and documents. The Morning Star, newspaper, pub-
lished at Houston in 1839, gave, on' two successive days, editorials de-
scriptive of his death and funeral, pathetic in detail, and accurate in

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 26, July 1922 - April, 1923. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101084/. Accessed August 1, 2014.