Burnet, David Gouverneur, 1789-1870

Alternative names
Birth 1789-04-14
Death 1870-12-05

Biographical notes:

David Gouverneur Burnet (1788-1870) was born in Newark, New Jersey. About 1817 he moved to Natchitoches, Louisiana, and in 1831 to Texas. He was ad interim president of the Republic of Texas from March 17 to October 22, 1836. In 1836 he was elected vice president of the Republic of Texas, serving part time as secretary of state and acting president.

From the guide to the David G. Burnet letters MS 188., 1836-1859, (Woodson Research Center, )

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.

From the guide to the David Gouverneur Papers 2009-265. 20659823., October 2009, (Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin)


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Ark ID:


  • Land settlement--Texas--History
  • Indians of North America--Texas--Wars--1815-1875
  • Land grants
  • Indians of North America--Wars--1815-1875
  • Frontier and pioneer life--Texas
  • Land grants--Texas--History--19th century
  • Frontier and pioneer life
  • Land grants--History--19th century
  • San Jacinto, Battle of, Tex., 1836
  • San Jacinto, Battle of, 1836
  • Indians of North America--Texas--History


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  • Texas (as recorded)
  • Austin's Colony (Tex.) (as recorded)
  • Cincinnati (Ohio) (as recorded)
  • Sabine River (Tex. and La.) (as recorded)
  • Texas (as recorded)
  • Austin's Colony (Tex.) (as recorded)
  • Cincinnati (Ohio) (as recorded)
  • Texas (as recorded)
  • Galveston Bay (Tex.) (as recorded)
  • Natchitoches (La.) (as recorded)
  • Texas (as recorded)
  • Nacogdoches (Tex.) (as recorded)
  • San Jacinto River (as recorded)
  • Texas (as recorded)