David G. Burnett
“Elder Statesman of the Republic”

The first President of the Republic of Texas, David Gouverneur Burnet had gained revolutionary experience in 1806 as the first American volunteer to join Francisco de Miranda’s expedition to free Venezuela from Spain, and as Commander of the boat that fired the first shot for South American Independence.

A native of Newark, New Jersey, Burnet had left an accounting job in New York at the age of eighteen to take up a life of adventure. He returned from South America, and in 1813 decided to establish a trading post in Natchitoches, Louisiana, but he contracted tuberculosis and the business failed. Sick and despondent, he rode deep into the Spanish Texas wilderness where he nearly died, but a band of Comanche Indians took him in and nursed him back to health in the two years he lived with them.

From 1819 to 1825 Burnet studied and practiced law in Ohio and Louisiana. In 1826 he traveled to Saltillo, Mexico, where he entered into a partnership with Lorenzo de Zavala, and secured an empressario grant in east Texas. In December 1830, he married Hannah Este of New York, and they made their home on a plantation on the San Jacinto River, across from the Lynchburg ferry.

Burnet was elected President of the ad interim government of Texas on March 16, 1836. He remained President during the most turbulent eight months of the Republic of Texas, and was happy to resign the post to Sam Houston, the newly elected President, in October 1836. Elected Vice-President in 1838, he became President again upon the resignation of Mirabeau Lamar in December 1841.

He returned to his plantation in 1848 and, after his wife’s death in 1858, he retired and moved to Galveston. He died on December 5, 1870, and was buried with Masonic honors. He was a member of Holland Lodge No. 1.

* From The Texas Mason
By Pete Normand, PM
Texas Lodge of Research

Read More About David G. Burnet
* The Texas Masons
The Fraternity of Ancient Free & Accepted Masons in the History of Texas
by Pete Normand, © 1986
Book may be ordered from
Brazos Valley Masonic Library and Museum Assn.
P.O. Box 1300
College Station, TX 77841
Price: $10.00 Postpaid