Anson Jones, the last President of the Republic of Texas, and sometimes referred to as the “Architect of Annexation” after Texas became a state, was born today in 1798. Now WE know em

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Anson Jones was born January 20, 1798 in Great Barrington, Massachusetts.

By 1820, Anson Jones had become a licensed doctor by the Oneida, New York, Medical Society, and began his own medical practice in 1826.

However, his medical practice did not prosper, so he moved several more times before finally being arrested in Philadelphia by a creditor.

Anson stayed in Philadelphia for a few more years, teaching and practicing medicine, until in 1824 he decided to go to Venezuela.

Later, Jones returned to Philadelphia, earned an M.D., and reopened his practice.

He never had much success as a doctor however, and in 1832 Anson renounced medicine and headed for New Orleans, where he entered the mercantile trade.

Once again, though, Anson’s dreams were thwarted.

Though he safely weathered two plagues, his business efforts never met with any success and within a year he once again had ran out of money.

So, in 1833, Anson Jones headed west to Texas, settling eventually in Brazoria.

Here, at last, he met with success, establishing a medical practice that prospered quickly. By 1835 he began to speak out about the growing tensions between Texas and Mexico, and that year he attended The Consultation, a meeting held at Columbia, by Texas patriots to discuss the fight with Mexico (the meeting’s leadership did not want to call the meeting a “convention”, for fear the Mexican government would view it as an independence forum). Anson Jones himself presented a resolution at the Consultation calling for a convention to be held to declare independence, but refused to be nominated to the convention himself.

During the Texas Revolution, Anson served as a judge advocate and surgeon to the Texas army, though he insisted on holding the rank of private throughout the conflict.

After the war, Anson returned to Brazoria and resumed his medical practice.

Upon this return to Brazoria, he found that James Collinsworth, a fellow Texas patriot and signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence from Brazoria, had set up a law practice in Anson Jones’ office.

Anson evicted Collinsworth and challenged him to a duel (though the duel never occurred).

Then on March 1, 1835, Anson Jones met with four other Masons at Brazoria and petitioned the Grand Master of Louisiana for a dispensation and a charter to form the first Masonic lodge in Texas.

The charter for Holland Lodge No. 36 arrived in April of 1836, and Anson carried it in his saddlebags during the-Battle of San Jacinto.

At the formation of the Grand Lodge of the Republic of Texas in December 1837, Anson was elected its first Grand Master. He also became the first Grand Master of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows in Texas.

On May 17, 1840, he married Mary Smith Jones. Together, they went on to have four children.

Soon Anson Jones and Collinsworth would spar again.

Collinsworth had been instrumental in starting the Texas Railroad, Navigation, and Banking Company, to which Anson was vehemently opposed.

When Anson Jones was elected to the Second Texas Congress as an opponent of the Company; however, his most significant act was to call for the withdrawal of the Texas proposal for annexation by the United States.

Anson also helped draw up legislation to regulate medical practice, and called for the establishment of an endowment for a university.

He had expected to return to his medical practice at Brazoria after his term in Congress, but Texas President Sam Houston instead appointed him Minister to the United States, where Anson Jones was to formally withdraw the annexation proposal.

During this time, while many Texans hoped to encourage eventual annexation by the United States, there were some who supported waiting for annexation or even remaining independent. The United States, in the late 1830s, was hesitant to annex Texas for fear of provoking a war with Mexico.

Anson Jones and others felt it was important that Texas gain recognition from European states and begin to set up trade relations with them, to make annexation of Texas more attractive to the United States or, failing that, to give Texas the strength to remain independent.

Anson was then recalled to Texas by new president Mirabeau Lamar in 1839.

Back at home, he found himself elected to a partial term in the Senate, where he quickly became a critic of Lamar’s administration.

Anson retired from the Senate in 1841, declining the opportunity to serve as Vice President in favor of returning to his medical practice.

However, late in 1841 he was named Texas Secretary of State by president Sam Houston, who had been recently been elected president again by opponents of Lamar.

Anson Jones served as Secretary of State until 1844.

During his term, the main goal of Texas foreign policy was to get either an offer of annexation from the United States, or a recognition of Texas independence from Mexico, or, preferably, both at the same time.

Then on December 9, 1844, Anson Jones was elected president of the Republic of Texas, despite running a virtually silent campaign.

That November, James K. Polk had been elected President of the United States on a promise of Texas annexation.

However, Anson Jones had held his silence on the subject, preferring to wait for the ideal outcome of simultaneous annexation and independence offers.

This proved unpopular.

Late in 1844, the Texas Congress declared for joining the United States, and popular sentiment in the republic for annexation grew.

As the months went on with no word from Anson Jones, his own Texas citizens burned him in effigy and threatened to overthrow his government.

Through this Anson Jones continued to wait.

Finally, in June of 1845, Anson Jones’ emissary to Mexico returned with a treaty recognizing the republic’s independence.

At last he put the question before the people — accept the offer of annexation from the United States, or sign the independence treaty from Mexico and remain an independent state. The Texas Congress and people went for annexation.

Preparations then began for annexation, with Anson Jones’ role as president greatly diminished.

On February 19, 1846, a formal ceremony was held in Austin to bring Texas into the United States.

Anson Jones delivered a speech that he concluded by declaring,

“The final act in this great drama is now performed. The Republic of Texas is no more.”

In his final official act as president, Anson Jones lowered the Texas flag from its pole; Sam Houston, with tears in his eyes, stepped from the crowd and gathered the flag in his arms.

Upon Texas statehood, Anson Jones retired to Brazoria.

He had hoped that the new Texas state legislature would send him to the United States Senate.

He was not chosen however, and as time went on he became increasingly bitter about this slight.

Although Anson went on to prosper as a planter and eventually amassed an enormous estate, he was never able to get past the fact that Sam Houston and Thomas Jefferson Rusk were chosen over him to represent Texas in Washington, D.C.

After the suicide of Thomas Jefferson Rusk in 1857, Anson became convinced that the legislature would finally send him to the Senate, but he once again received no votes.

Then, for four days, Anson lodged at Houston’s old Capitol Hotel, the former seat of government of the Republic of Texas.

On January 9, 1858, Anson Jones fatally shot himself in his room after dinner.

He was 59 years old.

Anson Jones was buried at Glenwood Cemetery in Houston.

Now WE know em

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