Rusk, Thomas J.

Born: 1803-12-05 Pendleton, South Carolina

Died: 1857-07-29 Nacogdoches, Texas

Rusk studied law and earned admittance to the bar in Georgia before moving to Nacogdoches, in 1835. He served as a delegate to the 1836 constitutional convention that declared Texas' independence and as the new republic's first secretary of war. Following Sam Houston's wounding at the Battle of San Jacinto during the Texas Revolution, Rusk took command of Texas' military and remained in command until the end of the war, when he resumed his position in the cabinet. He won election to the Texas Congress and remained there until 1838, when he earned appointment as chief justice of the Texas Supreme Court. He stayed on the court until 1842. In 1843, he received commission as a major general in the Texas militia. Rusk was a delegate to the 1845 annexation convention and served as its president. Following annexation, in 1846, the Texas legislature elected Rusk, as a Democrat, to the U.S. Senate, where he remained until his death by suicide.

Biographical Directory of the American Congress 1774-1996 (Alexandria, VA: CQ Staff Directories, 1997), 1765-66; Seth Shepard McKay, "Rusk, Thomas Jefferson," Dictionary of American Biography (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1964), 8:2:236-37.