Texas Governor John Ireland:
An Inventory of Records at the Texas State Archives, 1879-1887 (bulk 1883-1887)
John Ireland served as governor of Texas from January 16, 1883 to January 18, 1887. Ireland was born in Kentucky on January 1, 1827. While in his 20s, he was constable and deputy sheriff of his home county, and he studied law. In 1853 he moved to Seguin, Texas, where he was elected mayor in 1858. After serving in the Secession Convention of 1861, he joined the Confederate army where he rose in rank from private to lieutenant colonel. Ireland was a delegate to the Constitutional Convention of 1866, and a district judge until removed by General Philip Sheridan as an impediment to reconstruction (1867). In 1872 he was elected to the Texas House of Representatives, and in 1874 to the Texas Senate. While legislator (and later as governor), Ireland was known as "Ox Cart John" for his opposition to railroad subsidies on the grounds of their encouraging monopoly and privilege. He was briefly a Supreme Court justice until the Constitution of 1876 eliminated his seat. He was then defeated in a race for U.S. Senate (1876) and again in a race for U.S. House of Representatives (1878).
Ireland won the gubernatorial race in 1882 over strong opposition from the Independent candidate George W. "Wash"Jones. As governor, Ireland reversed Oran Roberts' policy of rapid sale of public lands, arguing instead for a minimum price and sale to the highest bidder. The proceeds from these sales went into permanent funds for public schools, the state university, and state institutions. The constitution was amended to provide school districts with taxing power, and a state superintendent of education was created. Ireland reduced the number of pardons, and called a special session of the legislature in 1884 to deal with the fence-cutting war. That same year, Ireland was re-elected by a greater margin than before. Ireland's suggestion to establish a railroad commission failed to pass and he had to contend with strikes by the Knights of Labor in 1885 and 1886. He refused to sign a contract to rebuild the capitol unless native Texas stone was used. Upon retirement in 1887, Ireland unsuccessfully ran for the U.S. Senate against John H. Reagan. He then resumed the practice of law in Seguin. Ireland died in San Antonio on March 15, 1896.
Types of records are correspondence, messages, proclamations, petitions, lists, certificates of appointment, and a register dating from 1879 to 1887, with the bulk of the materials dating from 1883 to 1887. Records are from John Ireland's terms as governor of Texas. Much of the correspondence relates to the appointment or resignation of state and local officials and the disqualification of district judges to hear specific cases. Other materials deal with pardons, rewards, and requisitions for extradition, as well as railroad bonds, fence-cutting, the recollections of a Texas Revolution veteran, and the North, Central and South American Exposition of 1886. Included are election results for locating a "colored"university and a register listing convicts who had their citizenship restored between 1885 and 1887.
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(Identify the item), Records, Texas Governor John Ireland. Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.
No accession information for these records was located.
Tonia J. Wood, December 1995
Detailed Description of the Records