January 26, 2015 - January 26th is the first Texas Honor Day of the new calendar year and it honors Mirabeau B. Lamar who is recognized as the “Father of Texas Education.” On this date in 1839 the legislature of the Republic of Texas passed a law which set aside land of public schools and two universities. It was decades later that the public schools were established, but Lamar’s advocacy of the program earned him this recognition. A statement from one of his speeches to Congress, “a cultivated mind is the guardian genius of democracy” was used by Dr. Edwin Fay as the origin of the Latin phrase “Disciplina Praesidium Civitatis” which is the motto of the University of Texas. This day serves to remind all of us of the importance of public education to the citizens of Texas. The Daughters of the Republic of Texas celebrate this Honor Day by providing historical materials or information to local schools and the news media so the citizens of the community can celebrate these important reminders of our Texas heritage. This is also an appropriate time to recognize and honor our teachers, particularly those who teach Texas History (grades four and seven.)
Lamar was born on August 16, 1798, in Jefferson County Georgia and was an expert horseman and fencer, as well as an outstanding speaker and poet. Many of his poems have been published. In 1829 he was elected as a state senator in Georgia, but in 1835 he left Georgia to travel to Texas. He had developed an interest in Texas through James W. Fannin, who had already gone to Texas. After hearing of the Battle of the Alamo and the Goliad Massacre, he joined the Texas Army. He fought in the Battle of San Jacinto and after saving the lives Thomas J. Rusk and Walter Payne Lane he was made the secretary of war and later commander-in-chief.
In 1836 Lamar was elected vice-president of the Republic of Texas and followed Sam Houston to become the second president of the Republic. He served until 1841 and then retired to his plantation home in Richmond, Texas. Lamar was appointed as the U.S. minister to Nicaragua and Costa Rica in 1857, but because of failing health he returned to Richmond where he died in December of that year from a heart attack. A burial plot next to him in the Morton Cemetery belongs to Jane Long, the “Mother of Texas.” It is well known that Mirabeau and Jane were best of friends and it is rumored that he once asked her to marry him after her husband died but she refused. These two important citizens of the Republic of Texas rest in peace in this quiet location, where many Texas citizens visit their graves each year.
Please join the Daughters of the Republic of Texas in honoring Mirabeau B. Lamar.