David jouvereur /surwet
DOROTHY LOUISE FIELDS
SN APRIL 4, 1788, almost a year before the inauguration
of George Washington as the first President of these
United States, there was born in the small town of Newark,
New Jersey, a child who was destined to become the first presi-
dent of another great republic, still unborn, the Republic of
Texas. This child was David Gouverneur Burnet.
For generations the name of Burnet had been associated in
the public mind with prominent positions and valuable service.
David's mother was Gertrude Gouverneur, whose family was
prominent both socially and politically. His father was a noted
physician, who served as a member of the Continental Congress.
Major' Icabod Burnet, one of David's half brothers, was the
aide-de-camp of George Washington and a close friend of
Lafayette. Judge Jacob Burnet, his youngest half brother,
served as United States Senator, as an Ohio State Supreme
Judge, and was elected a member of the French Academy of
Science. Isaac Burnet, his own brother, served as mayor of
Cincinnati for twelve years.
David's parents died when he was about three years old, and
he grew up largely under the guidance of his brothers. He
received his early education at an academy in his home town,
where his work was thorough and outstanding. While still
quite young, he began preparing himself for admission into
the navy, but because of the strong objections of his brothers,
he reluctantly abandoned this ambition.2 When Burnet was
seventeen, his brothers secured for him a clerkship in the
counting house of Robinson and Hartshone in New York. The
firm failed, however, soon after Burnet went there, and he lost
both his salary and his contributions. When the firm became
hopelessly involved and was unable to meet its obligations, young
Burnet obtained leave of absence for a day and returned with
about $12,000 due him by other parties and placed it in the
hands of his employers to liquidate as far as possible the
iJacob Burnet, Notes on the Early Settlement of the North Western
Territory, 17; John Livingston, Portraits of Eminent Americans, 153;
Dictionary of American Biography, III, 296.
2"Memoir of Judge Burnet," Texas Almanac, 1857, p. 131.
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 49, July 1945 - April, 1946. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth146056/. Accessed August 20, 2014.