Burnet, David G.

Born: 1788-04-04 Newark, New Jersey

Died: 1870-12-05 Galveston, Texas

The son of a member of the Continental Congress, Burnet was raised by his siblings because his parents died soon after his birth. One of his brothers was Jacob Burnet, a future U.S. senator. Burnet briefly pursued a career in finance in New York City before joining Francisco de Miranda on an 1806 expedition to liberate Venezuela from Spain. In 1813, he moved to Ohio, where he remained for four years before relocating to Louisiana. Burnet remained there only briefly before leaving the United States and living among the Comanche in the Mexican province of Texas. He eventually returned to Ohio and became a lawyer, but traveled back to Texas in 1826 to deliver letters from Henry Clay to Stephen Austin, becoming involved in a settlement near Nacogdoches. Burnet returned to New York in 1830, selling his settlement contract and marrying Hannah Este the next year. They migrated to Texas later that year and settled near the San Jacinto River. As tensions between Texas and Mexico increased, Burnet became a leading figure in the independence movement. When Texas declared itself a separate republic in 1836, Burnet served as provisional governor. His relationship with Sam Houston was a contentious one and Burnet negotiated the Treaty of Velasco with Santa Anna after the Battle of San Jacinto without Houston's approval. Burnet's tenure remained unstable until Houston won Texas' first gubernatorial election and replaced him. In 1838, Burnet returned to the Texas government as Mirabeau B. Lamar's vice president. In that office, he supervised an expansive foreign policy and pushed several Native American tribes out of Texas. He ran against Houston for the presidency in 1841 but lost. In 1844, he served as the first secretary of state for Texas after its annexation by the United States. Barnet experienced personal tragedy in the 1850s and 1860s, beginning with the death of his wife in 1858. He opposed secession after Abraham Lincoln's election, but his only remaining son chose to fight for the Confederacy. Barnet's son died in action in March 1865, leaving David the last surviving member of the family.

Lynn Hudson Parsons, "Burnet, David Gouverneur," American National Biography, ed. by John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999), 3:968-69.