Heritage, Winter 2004 Page: 11
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MIRABEAU B. LAMAR
Mirabeau Buonaparte Lamar-the name
trips off the tongue as the mind envisions a
French explorer. No image could be farther
from the truth, for this man was a Texian.
As with most participants of the Texas
Revolution, Lamar was born elsewhere and
immigrated to Texas. A native of Georgia, he
enjoyed a career as a newspaper editor and a poet of some
note. He also entered politics in Georgia, but following his
wife's death and political reverses, he struck out for Texas
in 1835 following his friend James W. Fannin. Liking what
he saw, he determined he would stay and began voicing
support for independence from Mexico.
His courage in a skirmish prior to the Battle of San
Jacinto resulted in promotion from private to colonel and
command of the Texian cavalry. His meteoric rise continued
as he became in rapid succession secretary of war of revolutionary'
Texas, then vice president, and finally president
of the Republic of Texas in 1838.
As president, Lamar demonstrated he was the opposite of
his predecessor Sam Houston. The new president had a
vision that Texas' future lay as a great nation on the North
American continent rather than as a state in the United
States. He pushed forward an aggressive agenda against bel
Image courtesy of the Texas State Library
licose Mexicans and marauding Indians, and
established the first homestead law in Texas.
When Lamar turned a small community on the
western fringe of settlement, now known as
Austin, into the capital, he demonstrated that
Texas would expand westward.
In his first address to the Texas Congress, Lamar advocated
a program that later earned him the title "Father of
Texas Education." Recognizing that Texas had far more
land than money, Lamar urged "a liberal endowment" of
public lands to establish both public schools and a system
of higher education. Within a few weeks of his address,
Congress passed legislation providing just such a program.
Recognizing that land could provide money for public
education is still Lamar's legacy; to date, the Permanent
School Fund of Texas has received more than $8 billion
from the state's public lands.
And what about that famous name- Mirabeau Buonaparte
Lamar? An uncle had a fondness for history and suggested
for his newborn nephew the names of two famous
Frenchman: Count Mirabeau and Napoleon Bounaparte.Robert
N. Jones Jr.
HERITAGE WINTER 2004
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, Winter 2004, periodical, Winter 2004; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45372/m1/11/: accessed October 20, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.