Henry Smith (Texas Governor)
Henry Smith was first American-born Governor of the Mexican territory of Texas
Texas is the second largest U.S. state by both area and population, and the largest state by area in the contiguous United States.The name, based on the Caddo word "Tejas" meaning "friends" or "allies", was applied by the Spanish to the Caddo themselves and to the region of their settlement in...

 and briefly presided over the revolution there.

Early life

Smith was born the tenth and last child of James and Magdalen (Woods) Smith of Kentucky. At the age of 21, he became a merchant in Nashville, Tennessee
Nashville, Tennessee
Nashville is the capital of the U.S. state of Tennessee and the county seat of Davidson County. It is located on the Cumberland River in Davidson County, in the north-central part of the state. The city is a center for the health care, publishing, banking and transportation industries, and is home...

, and married. Moving from place to place, he was ultimately attracted by land grants offered by the Mexican government and took his family to Brazoria County, Texas
Brazoria County, Texas
Brazoria County[p] is a county in the U.S. state of Texas, located on the Gulf Coast within the Houston–Sugar Land–Baytown metropolitan area. Regionally, parts of the county are within the extreme southern-most fringe of the regions locally known as Southeast Texas. Brazoria County is among a...

, in 1827. There he worked his lands, taught school, and did some surveying.

Becoming involved in politics, Smith was wounded in the 1832 Battle of Velasco
Battle of Velasco
The Battle of Velasco, fought June 25–26, 1832, was the first true military conflict between Mexico and settlers in Texas. It began when Texan insurgents attacked Fort Velasco, located in what was then Velasco and what is now the present day city of Freeport...

. Elected alcalde
Alcalde , or Alcalde ordinario, is the traditional Spanish municipal magistrate, who had both judicial and administrative functions. An alcalde was, in the absence of a corregidor, the presiding officer of the Castilian cabildo and judge of first instance of a town...

 of Brazoria in 1833, he was soon chosen a delegate to the Convention of 1833
Convention of 1833
The Convention of 1833 , a political gathering of settlers in Mexican Texas, was a successor to the Convention of 1832, whose requests had not been addressed by the Mexican government...

. In 1834, he was appointed by the Mexican governor as political chief of the department of the Brazos.

Texas Independence

Around 1835, Smith became a leader of party favoring independence for Texas, called the War, or Independence Party. This party met with the Peace Party at a convention in 1836 called the Consultation. There, these two parties debated whether to declare immediate independence from Mexico, or not. While urging an immediate declaration of independence, he helped prepare the organic law
Organic law
An organic or fundamental law is a law or system of laws which forms the foundation of a government, corporation or other organization's body of rules. A constitution is a particular form of organic law for a sovereign state....

 that served as the constitution of a provisional government. Smith was named governor of the provisional government but soon was locked in struggles with rivals both political and personal. He dissolved the provisional government's council which retaliated by impeaching him. Smith refused to relinquish the governorship to James W. Robinson
James W. Robinson
James W. Robinson was a politician in what became the U.S. states of Texas and California.-Early years:J. W. Robinson was born in what is now Hamilton County, Indiana in c. 1791. He was a lawyer and partnered with William Henry Harrison. He married Mary Isdell in 1820, but abandoned his first...

 but the matter was rendered moot by the Convention of 1836
Convention of 1836
The Convention of 1836 was the meeting of elected delegates in Washington-on-the-Brazos, Texas in March 1836. The Texas Revolution had begun five months previously, and the interim government, known as the Consultation, had wavered over whether to declare independence from Mexico or pledge to...


He ran against Sam Houston and Stephen Austin in the 1836 presidential election, but was soundly defeated by Houston, though he did edge out Austin.

Smith served as secretary of the treasury during the first Sam Houston
Sam Houston
Samuel Houston, known as Sam Houston , was a 19th-century American statesman, politician, and soldier. He was born in Timber Ridge in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, of Scots-Irish descent. Houston became a key figure in the history of Texas and was elected as the first and third President of...

 administration. Later he promoted development along the Texas Gulf Coast and in 1840 was elected to Congress. Retiring after on term he sought no other public office. He joined the California Gold Rush
California Gold Rush
The California Gold Rush began on January 24, 1848, when gold was found by James W. Marshall at Sutter's Mill in Coloma, California. The first to hear confirmed information of the gold rush were the people in Oregon, the Sandwich Islands , and Latin America, who were the first to start flocking to...

 in 1849, found no gold, and died in a mining camp.

Personal life

Smith married Harriet Gillette in 1815; they had three sons: William Watt, and the twins John Gillette and James Evans. They moved to Missouri where Harriet died in 1820.

In 1822, Smith married Harriet's sister, Elizabeth; they had five daughters: Harriet G., Jane, Sarah, Emily and Sophronia. They moved to Texas in 1827, where Elizabeth died of cholera
Cholera is an infection of the small intestine that is caused by the bacterium Vibrio cholerae. The main symptoms are profuse watery diarrhea and vomiting. Transmission occurs primarily by drinking or eating water or food that has been contaminated by the diarrhea of an infected person or the feces...

 in 1833.

In 1839, Smith married Elizabeth's twin Sarah. They had one daughter Elizabeth. Sarah died in Liberty, Texas
Liberty, Texas
Liberty is a city in and the county seat of Liberty County, Texas, United States and a part of the Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown metropolitan area. The population was 8,033 at the 2000 census....

in 1863.

External links

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