Anson Jones

4th President of Texas

Bio

Jones was born on January 20, 1798, in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. There is no information between his birth and 1820. In 1820, Jones was licensed as a doctor by the Oneida, New York, Medical Society, and began medical practice in 1822. However, his practice did not prosper, and he moved several more times before finally being arrested in Philadelphiaby a creditor. He stayed in Philadelphia for a few more years, teaching and practicing medicine, until in 1824 he decided to go to Venezuela.

Life in TX

In 1833, Jones headed west to Texas, settling eventually in Brazoria. Here, at last, he met with success, establishing a medical practice that prospered quickly. In 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). Jones himself presented a resolution at the Consultation calling for a convention to be held to declare independence, but he himself refused to be nominated to the convention.

During the Texas Revolution, Jones 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, Jones returned to Brazoria and resumed his medical practice.

Upon his return to Brazoria, Jones 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 Jones's office. Jones evicted Collinsworth and challenged him to a duel (though the duel never occurred).

Just a few months before the revolution, on March 1, 1835, 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. In December, when the lodge was set to labor, Jones was elected its first Master. The charter for Holland Lodge No. 36 arrived during the final days of the revolution, and Jones carried it in his saddlebags during the decisive Battle of San Jacinto on April 21, 1836. At the formation of the Grand Lodge of the Republic of Texas in December 1837, he was elected its first Grand Master. He also became the first Grand Master of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows in Texas.[2]

On May 17, 1840, he married Mary Smith Jones. Together, they had four children.[3]

Politics

Jones and Collinsworth would spar again. Collinsworth was instrumental in starting the Texas Railroad, Navigation, and Banking Company, to which Jones was vehemently opposed. Jones was elected to the Second Texas Congress as an opponent of the Company; however, his most significant act in Congress was to call for the withdrawal of the Texas proposal for annexation by the United States. He also helped draw up legislation to regulate medical practice, and called for the establishment of an endowment for a university.

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

During this time, while many Texians hoped to encourage eventual annexation by the United States, some 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. 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.

Jones was 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. He retired from the Senate in 1841, declining the opportunity to serve as Vice President in favor of returning to his medical practice. Late in 1841, though, he was named Texas Secretary of State by president Houston, who had been recently been elected president again by opponents of Lamar.

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.