Rusk, Thomas J. (Thomas Jefferson), 1803-1857

Alternative names
Birth 1803-12-05
Death 1857-07-29

Biographical notes:

U.S. senator from Texas, legislator of the Texas (Republic), jurist, and army officer.

From the description of Petition of Thomas J. Rusk, 1852. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 71015419

Army officer, jurist, Texas legislator, and U.S. senator.

From the description of Thomas J. Rusk letters, 1835-1856. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 70956387

From the description of Thomas J. Rusk collection, 1826-1978. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 70956384

Edward Harden (1784-1849) from Athens, Georgia, was a farmer, lawyer, soldier, and Senator for the state of Georgia. George W. West (1808-1879) was a farmer and businessman from Cedartown, Polk County, Georgia.

From the guide to the Edward Harden Letters, 1836-1855, (Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin)

U.S. Senator.

From the description of Letter signed : Washington, to President Pierce, 1853 Mar. 7. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270619345

Born on December 5, 1803, in South Carolina, Thomas Jefferson Rusk was trained as a lawyer and practiced in Georgia before losing a considerable fortune in a speculative mining venture. In hopes of tracking down the men who swindled him, Rusk followed them to Texas. Despite failing to recover his money, he decided to stay in Texas and settle in David Burnet's colony. He became increasingly involved in the movement to resist Mexican rule and thus joined the efforts in Gonzalez and San Antonio de Bexar.

Rusk relinquished his army post prior to the siege of the Alamo and became a key player in both the Texas Declaration of Independence and the revised Texas Constitution. The interim government chose Rusk as the new Secretary of War in 1836, and he fought with Sam Houston to defeat Santa Anna's Mexican army at the Battle of San Jacinto on April 21, 1836. Subsequently he commanded Texas forces as Santa Anna's men were pushed back across the Rio Grande. In the late 1830s Rusk commanded the Texas militia as it fought to suppress the tribes of the Cherokee, Kickapoo, and Caddo, including the climactic Battle of Neches when most of the Texas Cherokees were pushed into Oklahoma

Returning to law, Rusk was elected Chief Justice of the Texas Supreme Court in 1838 and subsequently he headed the bar of the Republic of Texas and formed a renowned law firm with partner J. Pinckney Henderson.

A strong proponent of Texas annexation by the United States, Rusk served as President of the Convention of 1845. He was reunited with his old revolutionary cohort Sam Houston when the two men were elected to serve as the first U.S. Senators from the new state of Texas in 1846. His senate career included support of the Mexican War, Texas' territorial rights, new services and rates for the U.S. Postal Service, and efforts to extend a transcontinental rail line through Texas. In 1856 Rusk lost his beloved wife Mary and began to suffer from a tumor; he committed suicide on July 29, 1857.

From the guide to the Thomas Jefferson Rusk Papers, 1824-1859, (Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin)


Loading Relationships


Ark ID:


  • Compromise of 1850
  • Kansas--Nebraska bill
  • Pacific railroads--Explorations and surveys
  • Postal service
  • Postal service--Texas
  • Indians of North America--Texas--Wars
  • Pacific railroads--Exploration and surveys
  • San Jacinto, Battle of, 1836
  • Mexican War, 1846-1848
  • Gadsen Treaty, 1853
  • Plantation life--Texas
  • Wilmot proviso, 1846
  • Indians of North America--Wars
  • San Jacinto, Battle of, Tex., 1836


  • Senators, U.S. Congress--Texas
  • Army officers
  • Jurists
  • Legislators--Texas


  • United States (as recorded)
  • Cedartown (Ga.) (as recorded)
  • Austin (Tex.) (as recorded)
  • Texas (as recorded)
  • Nacogdoches (Tex.) (as recorded)
  • Washington (D.C.) (as recorded)
  • Washington (D.C.) (as recorded)
  • Nacogdoches (Tex.) (as recorded)
  • Texas (as recorded)
  • Texas (as recorded)
  • Austin (Tex.) (as recorded)
  • Rusk County (Tex.) (as recorded)
  • Texas (as recorded)