University of Texas, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History

A Guide to the David Gouverneur Burnet Papers, 1798-1965

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Burnet, David Gouverneur, 1788-1870
Title: David Gouverneur Papers
Dates: October 2009
Abstract Papers pertain to the career of David G. Burnet (1788-1870), president ad interim of the Republic of Texas and later secretary of state of the Republic and of the state of Texas.
Accession No.: 2009-265
OCLC No.: 20659823
Extent 1 ft., 7 in.; Correspondence, letter books, speeches, literary productions, financial papers, memorandum books, newspaper clippings, deeds, wills, and legal documents.
Language: Materials are written in English.
Repository: Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin

Biographical Note

Born April 14, 1788, in Newark, New Jersey, David Gouverneur Burnett was orphaned early in life and largely raised by his half-brothers. Young Burnett studied law and lived in Ohio and Louisiana before obtaining an empresario grant to settle a large tract of land near Nacogdoches, Texas. After an unsuccessful attempt to attract settlers, Burnett sold the rights to the land grant and used his earnings to build a sawmill on the San Jacinto River. By 1835 he was involved in revolutionary politics, expressing distaste for the dictatorial Mexican regime but initially opposing Texas independence. He attended the Convention of 1836, however, as a non-delegate, and his status as an outsider prompted the delegation to elect him ad interim president of the new Republic of Texas.

Burnet's short term lasted only until October of 1836 but was filled with rancor, including ill will between Burnet and Sam Houston. His sawmill was a failure, his law practice languished, and he was relegated to subsistence farming. By 1838, however, Burnet returned to public office and was elected to serve as vice president under Mirabeau Lamar. He subsequently ran for president in 1841 against Sam Houston, a race marked by strife and ending in Burnet's defeat. Burnet opposed Texas' annexation by the United States, but he served as the new State of Texas' secretary of state in 1846. Paradoxically he opposed secession but supported the southern cause, perhaps because his son fought for the Confederacy. The boy died in battle at Mobile in 1863. Burnet returned to Galveston, where he died virtually destitute on December 5, 1870.

Scope and Contents

Papers pertain to the career of David G. Burnet (1788-1870), president ad interim of the Republic of Texas and later secretary of state of the Republic and of the state of Texas, and contain information about his early attempts at colonization in Texas as well as the events that transpired during his days in public office. Included is his handling of the Santa Anna affair, his feud with Sam Houston, and his concerns about statehood, the judiciary, and the Indian question as well as personal correspondence between Burnet and his brothers. In addition the collection contains a substantial file of documents concerning the early colonization efforts of Moses and Stephen F. Austin.



Arranged chronologically under subject.


Access Restrictions

Unrestricted access.

Index Terms

Subjects (Persons)
Austin, Moses, 1761-1821.
Austin, Stephen F. (Stephen Fuller), 1793-1836.
Bryan, James, 1788-1822.
Burnet, David Gouverneur, 1788-1870--Archives.
Burnet, Isaac G. (Isaac Gouverneur), 1784-1856.
Burnet, Jacob, 1770-1853.
Holley, Mary Austin, 1784-1846.
Houston, Sam, 1793-1863.
Lamar, Mirabeau Buonaparte, 1798-1859.
Milam, Benjamin Rush, 1788-1835.
Frontier and pioneer life--Texas.
Indians of North America--Texas--Wars--1815-1875.
Land grants--Texas--History--19th century.
San Jacinto, Battle of, 1836.
Austin's Colony (Tex.)--History--Sources.
Cincinnati (Ohio)--History--Sources.
Texas--History--Republic, 1836-1846.
Texas--History--Revolution, 1835-1836.
Texas--History--To 1846.

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

David Gouverneur Burnet Papers, 1798-1965, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin.

Processing Information

Subsequent revisions were made by Megan Mummey, October 2009.

Detailed Description of the Papers



2B159 Personal correspondence, 1829-1861
Business correspondence, undated
Stephen F. Austin to Burnet, 1829, 1833, and undated
Austin papers, 1798-1820
Burnet's speech on the Supreme Court bill, 1840
Burnet on the Indian Bureau, 1847
Burnet's defense, undated
Burnet's scheme for colonizing Texas, undated
Heard and Mercer communication, undated
Ben Milam letters, June 22, 1829, and September 15, 1829
Burnet's reply to Sam Houston's speech on Edwin Ward Moore, June 11, 1855
Colonel Tarleton on Sam Houston, November 1855
Burnet and Lamar on Houston, undated
Criticism on book Life of Sam Houston, 1855
Narratives concerning San Jacinto by Jones, Heard, and Turner, 1855
Extract of a letter from Edwin Waller, undated
Legal papers, 1826-1890 and undated
Financial papers, 1846-1892 and undated
"The Red River Raft," undated
"Manifesto of the Convention of Texas," 1867
"To the People of Texas," undated
"Emigration to Texas in Mexico," ca. 1832
Burnet on chief justices of counties, June 1840
Burnet on the Cherokee Land Bill and Treaty, 1839-1840
2B160 Documents, 1824-1890
"Extracts from Burnet's Review of Kennedy," copied by Mary Austin Holley, April 23, 1844
"Review of Kennedy's History of Texas by Texian Farmer," 1842
Transcripts of Burnet's papers from Rosenburg Library, 1838-1869
Family Bible materials, 1830-1860
Memorandum books, 1856-1865
Newspaper clippings, 1855, 1861, 1865
Sam Houston letters and newspaper clippings, February 1830-March 1830, April 1836, and undated
Transcript of newspaper clipping "Life of David G. Burnet," The Civilian and Gazette, June 16, 1866
General Houston's speech, undated
Fragments and parts of letters, undated
Miscellaneous biographical information
2Q457 Vol. I: Typed transcripts from letters to Treasury Department
No. 1, March-November 1836
No. 36, December 1838-November 1841
No. 38, June 1839-February 1841
Vol. II: Typed transcripts from proclamations
No. 35, 1836
Nos. 41, 42, and 255, 1839-1841
2Q458 Typed transcript of executive record book:
Letter book B, no. 34, part I, March 20-May 1, 1836
part II, May 14-June 13, 1836
3S194 Handwritten memorandum of a speech delivered in Travis County by D.G. Burnet.
Two notes for pages 13 and 15 of Coleman's pamphlet.
Land grant certificate, 1846
MAP Map Collection:
Plat map of D'Hanis, Medina County, ca. 1859
2B159 Letter, John Hemphill to Burnet, October 7, 1861