James Pinckney Henderson Family Papers, 1837-1881
James Pinckney Henderson (1808-1858) was a statesman, soldier, and first governor of the state of Texas. He was born in Lincolnton, North Carolina, to Lawson and Elizabeth (Carruth) Henderson. After serving in the North Carolina militia in 1830, he was elected Colonel of a Regiment. He moved to Canton, Mississippi, in 1835, became interested in news of the Texas Revolution, and began enlistments for the Texas service. He arrived at Velasco, Texas, on June 3, 1836, and was commissioned by David G. Burnet as Brigadier General and sent to the United States to recruit for the Texas army. Henderson organized a company in North Carolina and sent it to Texas, reputedly at his own expense. Upon his return to Texas in November 1836, he was appointed Attorney General of the Republic under Sam Houston and in December 1836 succeeded Stephen F. Austin as Secretary of State.
Early in 1837 Henderson was appointed Texas minister to England and France and was commissioned particularly to secure recognition and treaties of amity and commerce. Largely through his efforts both England and France entered into trade agreements with the Republic and ultimately recognized Texas independence. While in France, Henderson met Frances Cox of Philadelphia, whom he married in London in October 1839. He returned to Texas in 1840 and set up a law office at San Augustine. In 1844 he was sent to Washington, D.C., to work with Isaac Van Zandt in negotiating a treaty of annexation with the United States. The treaty was signed on April 12, 1844, but was rejected by the United States Senate on June 8, 1844, and President Houston ordered Henderson, over his protest, home.
Henderson was a member of the Convention of 1845, was elected governor of Texas in November 1845, and took office in February 1846. The Mexican War was declared, and Henderson led the Second Texas Regiment at the battle of Monterrey and was appointed a commissioner to negotiate for the surrender of that city. Later he served with the temporary rank of Major General of Texas volunteers in United States service from July 1846 to October 1846. After the war he resumed his duties as governor but refused to run for a second term. He returned to his private law practice in 1847. After election by the Texas legislature to the United States Senate to succeed Thomas J. Rusk, Henderson served in the Senate from November 9, 1857, until his death, on June 4, 1858. He was buried in the Congressional Cemetery, Washington. In 1930 his remains were reinterred in the State Cemetery in Austin. Henderson County, established in 1846, was named in his honor.
Frances Cox Henderson (1820-1897) was a community leader, author, and the first lady of Texas. She was born on July 21, 1820 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to John and Martha (Lyman) Cox. She received her education in Europe and showed a particular aptitude for languages. This talent is showcased in her book Epitome of Modern European Literature (1882), which contains short stories she translated from nineteen languages.
Frances and James Henderson had five children, of whom three daughters, Frances (Fanny), Julia, and Martha, lived to adulthood. After the death of her husband, Frances Cox Henderson moved with her daughters to Europe to further their education and to avoid the impending Civil War. When she returned to the United States, she lived with her daughter Julia, Julia's husband, Edward White Adams, and their family in East Orange, New Jersey. In her later years, she wrote and was involved in community work with the House of the Good Shepherd, the East Orange Free Library, and St. Mark's Episcopal Church. She died January 25, 1897, and was buried in Rosedale Cemetery in East Orange, New Jersey.
Handbook of Texas Online, s.v. "James Pinckney Henderson," http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/HH/fhe14.html (accessed May 17, 2010). Handbook of Texas Online, s.v. "Frances Cox Henderson," https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/henderson-frances-cox (accessed February 12, 2021).
The James Pinckney Henderson Family papers contain correspondence, cards, petitions, and sermons relating to the career of James Pinckney Henderson, including military activities while he was a soldier in the Mexican War and Commander of the Second Texas Regiment at the Battle of Monterrey. A receipt of petitions from settlers in Texas seeking protection from war-related violence during Henderson's tenure as governor can also be found. A diary and other materials relate to estate settlement; the social, religious, and other interests and activities of Frances Cox Henderson; and the life of Henderson's grandfather] John Carruth.
The 1982 addition to the James Pinckney Henderson Family Papers consists of one letter, dated April 29, 1844, concerning the annexation of Texas.
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James Pinckney Henderson Family Papers, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin.
This collection was processed by archives staff. Subsequent revisions were made by Marisa Jefferson, May 2021.
A transcript of Frances Cox Henderson's diary is available upon request.
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