Anson Jones

Last President of Texas

Biography

JONES, ANSON (1798–1858). Anson Jones, doctor, congressman, and the last president of the Republic of Texas, son of Solomon and Sarah (Strong) Jones, was born at Seekonkville, Great Barrington, Massachusetts, on January 20, 1798. He hoped to become a printer but was persuaded to study medicine, and in 1820 he was licensed by the Oneida, New York, Medical Society and began practice at Bainbridge. He met with meager success and soon moved to Norwich, where he opened a drugstore that failed. He subsequently started for Harpers Ferry, to begin business again in "the West," but at Philadelphia he was arrested by a creditor and remained to open a medical office and teach school until 1824, when he went to Venezuela for two years. Jones returned to Philadelphia, opened a medical office, qualified for an M.D. degree at Jefferson Medical College in 1827, and became a Mason and an Odd Fellow. He became master of his Masonic lodge and grand master of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows in Pennsylvania, but his medical practice did not prosper. In October 1832 he renounced medicine and became a commission merchant in New Orleans, where he lived through cholera and yellow fever epidemics and a series of failures that left him despondent and broke.

Presidency

Texas

Jones was elected president of Texas in September 1844 and took office on December 9. He had made no campaign speeches, had not committed himself on the subject of annexation, and did not mention the subject in his inaugural address. After James K. Polk's election as president of the United States on a platform of "reannexation of Texas" and President John Tyler's proposal of annexation by joint resolution, Jones continued his silence. But the Texas Congress declared for joining the Union. Before Jones received official notice of the joint resolution, the charges of England and France induced him to delay action for ninety days. He promised to obtain from Mexico recognition of Texas independence and delayed calling the Texas Congress or a convention. Meanwhile, public sentiment for annexation and resentment against Jones mounted. He was burned in effigy, and threats were made to overthrow his government, but he remained silent until Charles Elliot returned from Mexico with the treaty of recognition. On June 4, 1845, Jones presented to the people of Texas the alternative of peace and independence or annexation. The Texas Congress rejected the treaty with Mexico, approved the joint resolution of annexation, and adopted resolutions censuring Jones. The Convention of 1845 considered removing Jones from office. He subsequently retained his title, though his duties were merely ministerial. On February 19, 1846, at the ceremony setting up the government of Texas as a state in the Union, Jones declared, "The Republic of Texas is no more." Then he retired to Barrington, his plantation near Washington-on-the-Brazos.
Anson Jones for Texas presidents Hall of Fame