President Wilson's Politician:
Albert Sidney Burleson of Texas
TRADITIONALLY PRESIDENTS OF THE UNITED STATES HAVE APPOINTED
postmasters general who were known more for their political skill than
for their administrative talent. In I913 President-elect Woodrow Wilson,
though a Progressive and an idealist, was no exception. After long deliber-
ation he offered the position in late February to a veteran congressman from
Texas, Albert Sidney Burleson. Burleson, who had discreetly but anxiously
sought a cabinet post, accepted eagerly.
The first of his family to achieve national recognition, Albert Burleson
was descended from a long line of Texas soldiers and statesmen. His grand-
father, General Edward Burleson, commanded troops at San Antonio and
San Jacinto in the Texas Revolution, served in the congress of the Republic
of Texas, and won a term as vice-president of the Republic in 1841, but
lost in his bid for the presidency three years later. Major Edward Burleson,
Jr., the father of Albert, fought in the Mexican War, took part in a number
of Indian campaigns, and performed the duties of enrolling officer in
charge of military conscription for the Confederacy in the San Marcos area.
After the Civil War the major retired to private life, but turned to the
political scene a few months before his death when he was chosen a delegate
to the Texas Constitutional Convention of 1875.2
While Major Burleson was serving the Confederate cause, his wife, Em-
ma Kyle, gave birth to her fifth child, Albert Sidney, in a farm home near
San Marcos. Albert was orphaned at an early age, but a comfortable in-
*Adrian Anderson is an associate professor of history at Lamar University. Research
for this article was assisted by grants from the Lamar University Research Council.
1E. R. Lindley (comp.), Biographical Directory of the Texan Conventions and Con-
gresses, 7832-1845 (Austin, 1941), 59; Austin American Statesman, July 3, 1932; Ed-
ward Burleson to Henry Smith, December 14, 1835, in Eugene C. Barker (ed.), Texas
History for High Schools and Colleges (Dallas, 1929), 228-229; Sam Houston to David
G. Burnet, April 25, 1836, in Ernest Wallace and David M. Vigness (eds.), Documents
of Texas History (Lubbock, 1960), II3-11I5; Herbert Gambrell, Anson Jones: The Last
President of Texas (Garden City, New York, 1948), 338-352.
2Edward Burleson to E. M. Pease, September 8, I855; H. E. McCulloch to Edward
Burleson, November Ig, I855; Houston to Edward Burleson, April 21, I86o; Edward
Burleson to A. W. Terrell, November, 1861; Edward Burleson to Major Jacob Waelder,
July I6, 1864, Edward Burleson, Jr. Papers (Archives, University of Texas, Austin);
"Standing Committees of the Constitutional Convention of the State of Texas," ibid.
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 77, July 1973 - April, 1974. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117148/. Accessed July 13, 2014.