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David Gouverneur Burnet papers

Identifier: urn:taro:utexas.cah.00365

Scope and Contents

Papers pertain to the career of David G. Burnet (1788-1870), president ad interim of the Republic of Texas and later secretary of state of the Republic and of the state of Texas, and contain information about his early attempts at colonization in Texas as well as the events that transpired during his days in public office. Included is his handling of the Santa Anna affair, his feud with Sam Houston, and his concerns about statehood, the judiciary, and the Indian question as well as personal correspondence between Burnet and his brothers. In addition the collection contains a substantial file of documents concerning the early colonization efforts of Moses and Stephen F. Austin.


  • Creation: 1798 - 1892


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

There are no use restrictions on this collection. Publisher is responsible for complying with copyright law.

Biographical Note

Born April 14, 1788, in Newark, New Jersey, David Gouverneur Burnett was orphaned early in life and largely raised by his half-brothers. Young Burnett studied law and lived in Ohio and Louisiana before obtaining an empresario grant to settle a large tract of land near Nacogdoches, Texas. After an unsuccessful attempt to attract settlers, Burnett sold the rights to the land grant and used his earnings to build a sawmill on the San Jacinto River. By 1835, he was involved in revolutionary politics, expressing distaste for the dictatorial Mexican regime but initially opposing Texas independence. He attended the Convention of 1836, however, as a non-delegate, and his status as an outsider prompted the delegation to elect him ad interim president of the new Republic of Texas.

Burnet's short term lasted only until October of 1836 but was filled with rancor, including ill will between Burnet and Sam Houston. His sawmill was a failure, his law practice languished, and he was relegated to subsistence farming. By 1838, however, Burnet returned to public office and was elected to serve as vice president under Mirabeau Lamar. He subsequently ran for president in 1841 against Sam Houston, a race marked by strife and ending in Burnet's defeat. Burnet opposed Texas' annexation by the United States, but he served as the new State of Texas' secretary of state in 1846. Paradoxically he opposed secession but supported the southern cause, perhaps because his son fought for the Confederacy. The boy died in battle at Mobile in 1863. Burnet returned to Galveston, where he died virtually destitute on December 5, 1870.


2 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



Papers pertain to the career of David G. Burnet (1788-1870), president ad interim of the Republic of Texas and later secretary of state of the Republic and of the state of Texas.


Arranged chronologically under subject.

Accession Number(s)


Physical Description

1 ft., 7 in.;Correspondence, letter books, speeches, literary productions, financial papers, memorandum books, newspaper clippings, deeds, wills, and legal documents.

OCLC Number


Processing Information

Subsequent revisions were made by Megan Mummey, October 2009; and Colleen Hobbs, February 2021.

David Gouverneur Burnet Papers, 1798-1892
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Repository Details

Part of the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History Repository

2300 Red River Street
Austin TX 78712