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Rusk, Thomas J. (Thomas Jefferson), 1803-1857



Born on December 5, 1803, in South Carolina, Thomas Jefferson Rusk was trained as a lawyer and practiced in Georgia before losing a considerable fortune in a speculative mining venture. In hopes of tracking down the men who swindled him, Rusk followed them to Texas. Despite failing to recover his money, he decided to stay in Texas and settle in David Burnet's colony. He became increasingly involved in the movement to resist Mexican rule and thus joined the efforts in Gonzalez and San Antonio de Bexar.

Rusk relinquished his army post prior to the siege of the Alamo and became a key player in both the Texas Declaration of Independence and the revised Texas Constitution. The interim government chose Rusk as the new Secretary of War in 1836, and he fought with Sam Houston to defeat Santa Anna's Mexican army at the Battle of San Jacinto on April 21, 1836. Subsequently he commanded Texas forces as Santa Anna's men were pushed back across the Rio Grande. In the late 1830s Rusk commanded the Texas militia as it fought to suppress the tribes of the Cherokee, Kickapoo, and Caddo, including the climactic Battle of Neches when most of the Texas Cherokees were pushed into Oklahoma

Returning to law, Rusk was elected Chief Justice of the Texas Supreme Court in 1838 and subsequently he headed the bar of the Republic of Texas and formed a renowned law firm with partner J. Pinckney Henderson.

A strong proponent of Texas annexation by the United States, Rusk served as President of the Convention of 1845. He was reunited with his old revolutionary cohort Sam Houston when the two men were elected to serve as the first U.S. Senators from the new state of Texas in 1846. His senate career included support of the Mexican War, Texas' territorial rights, new services and rates for the U.S. Postal Service, and efforts to extend a transcontinental rail line through Texas. In 1856 Rusk lost his beloved wife Mary and began to suffer from a tumor; he committed suicide on July 29, 1857.

Found in 25 Collections and/or Records:

Evelyn Burress papers

Identifier: urn:taro:utexas.cah.02709

Comprising correspondence, printed material, and an historical sketch, the Evelyn Burress Papers, 1939-1946, document Burress’ activities preserving historic buildings as well as her interest in Texas history and genealogy.

Dates: 1939 - 1946

Adina Emilia De Zavala papers

Identifier: urn:taro:utexas.cah.00218

Papers include a variety of documentation belonging to the founder of the De Zavala Chapter of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas, historical preservation activities and personal papers of the De Zavala family.

Dates: 1776; (1831-1955)

Eberstadt collection

Identifier: urn:taro:utexas.cah.00022

Collection aquired from Edward Eberstadt & Sons, booksellers, that includes source materials related to the early history of Texas and the Southwest.

Dates: 1699 - 1959

Benjamin Cromwell Franklin papers

Identifier: urn:taro:utexas.cah.01508
Abstract The papers of Benjamin Cromwell Franklin, attorney, judge, legislator, and soldier concern Franklin's duties as a soldier in the Texas Revolution (1836); the first judge in the Republic of Texas; a member of Supreme Court of the Republic; and a representative in the third, fifth, and eighth legislatures. The papers include correspondence, deeds, decrees, land grants, promissory notes, legal papers, memoranda, land surveys, wills, clippings, printed material, plats, and literary...
Dates: 1805 - 1915

Jesse Grimes papers

Identifier: urn:taro:utexas.cah.02171

Photostats and transcripts of letters comprise the Jesse Grimes Papers, 1834-1854, which document Grimes’ military and political career in Texas.

Dates: 1834 - 1854

Edward Harden letters

Identifier: urn:taro:utexas.cah.02194

Transcripts of various correspondences comprise the Edward Harden Letters, 1836-1855. In an 1836 letter from Thomas J. Rusk of Nachogdoches, Texas, Rusk urgently asks Harden for military assistance for the Texian Army and to spread support for the Texas Revolution.

Dates: 1836 - 1855

Madge Williams Hearne collection

Identifier: camh-arc-004161

The Madge Williams Hearne collection contains letters, legal documents, resolutions, appointments, and proclamations related to Texas statesman Sam Houston. It mostly consists of letters written to Sam Houston and others by important historical figures, especially during the Revolutionary period in Texas (1835-1836) and the years of the Republic of Texas (1836-1846).

Dates: 1817 - 1853

Sam Houston Hearne collection

Identifier: urn:taro:utexas.cah.00099

Collection of Sam Houston Hearne, great-grandson of Sam Houston, consists primarily of Houston family correspondence, letters sent and received by Houston during and directly after the Texas Revolution and during his Texas presidency, and correspondence between Houston and Guy M. Bryan concerning Stephen F. Austin.

Dates: 1820 - 1929

James Pinckney Henderson family papers

Identifier: urn:taro:utexas.cah.01543

Correspondence, diary, cards, petitions, and sermons relating to aspects of the career of James Pinckney Henderson, lawyer, soldier, politician, diplomat, and governor of Texas; including military activities while a soldier in Mexican war and commander of 2nd Texas Regiment at Battle of Monterrey; and including receipt of petitions from settlers in Texas seeking protection from hostile Indians while Henderson was governor.

Dates: 1837 - 1881

Caryl Clyde Hill papers

Identifier: urn:taro:utexas.cah.01780

Caryl Clyde Hill was an avid collector of materials documenting the early history of the Republic of Texas, government and military affairs, and biographies and histories of famous Texas leaders.

Dates: 1823; 1832 - 1916; 1958

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