The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 26, July 1922 - April, 1923 Page: 45
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Life and Service of John Birdsall
fine men of known ability, who, at a later date, confirmed the
estimate originally placed upon their talents.
The "Constitutional Government," with Houston as President,
gave promise of progress, but the efficiency of his cabinet was in
its initial stage greatly impaired by the loss of Austin, Secretary
of State, whose death occurred in the midst of the performance of
his first official acts.
J. Pinckney Henderson, Houston's first choice as Attorney
General, succeeded Austin as Secretary of State; his term of office
in both positions was of brief duration, as he was soon sent abroad
as Minister from the Republic of Texas to the courts of England
and France. Then Robert A. Irion, the third Secretary of State,
chosen within a few months, filled the office with promise of
efficiency and permanency. Birdsall succeeded to the Attorney
Generalship when Peter W. Grayson, after a brief tenure of office,
resigned. From this time until the close of Houston's first ad-
ministration these two officials worked harmoniously together.
Records show that, at one time, probably on account of illness or
absence of Irion, Birdsall performed the duties of his office, sign-
ing important documents as Acting Secretary of State.
John Birdsall was descended from a family of that name who
emigrated from England in 1657, and acquired lands on Long
Island from the Montauk Indians. His grandfather was Lieu-
tenant Colonel Benjamin Birdsall of Dutchess County, New York
Militia, whose services are listed in the records of the revolu-
statement, erring only as to the date of his arrival in Texas, which was
about November 15, 1836, instead of the spring of 1837.
There seems to have been negligence in the preservation of original
documents emanating from officials of the government of the Republic of
Texas. The only opinions rendered by Attorney General Birdsall that 1
have been able to obtain are addressed to the President and Secretary of
State, preserved in the office of the latter, and transferred from that office
to the State Library. Besides these, this repository contains under the
head of "Domestic Correspondence," a few documents and letters among
Land Office Papers, one on "Colonization Affairs," and one in the "Texas-
United States Diplomatic Service" to Alcee La Branche, Clharg6 d'Affaires
of United States, bearing his signature as Acting Secretary of State.
Reports as Attorney 'General, made to the President on matters of
judicial importance which have not been recorded elsewhere are embodied
in this memoir. They illustrate well the painstaking character of the
man and the fine legal judgment of the jurist. It is safe to assume that
were there full records extant of his valuable services, they would prove
that he contributed much to build up the judicial system of the Republic,
whose policies were in large measure inherited by the State.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 26, July 1922 - April, 1923, periodical, 1923; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101084/m1/51/: accessed October 20, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.