Jose Antonio Navarro
“Texas Patriot and Legislator”
For nearly half a century Jose Antonio Navarro had a hand in every major decision affecting the history of Texas. A native Texan, Navarro was born February 27, 1795, in San Antonio de Bexar. At the age of eighteen he joined the fight for independence from Spain. After the uprising failed he spent three years of exile in Louisiana. While working and studying law in San Antonio in 1821 he became good friends with Stephen F. Austin.
As a member of the Legislature of Coahulla and Texas, Navarro advocated the colonization of Texas. He helped Ben Milam and others obtain empresario grants, even before receiving land for himself. In 1829 he introduced a unique piece of legislation, known as Decree No. 70, that was the forerunner to the homestead law, and in 1833 was elected to the National Congress. By the fall of 1835 he was strongly in favor of Texas Independence and was a delegate to the Convention at Washington-on-the-Brazos. He joined with his uncle, Francisco Ruiz, in signing the Declaration of Independence, and was appointed to the committee the Constitution. He later served in the Congress of the new Republic.
President Mirabeau Lamar persuaded Navarro to accompany the Santa Fe expedition in 1841. Captured and sent to Mexico, he was charged with treason, sentenced to death, and imprisoned in the brutal Ulloa dungeon at Veracruz. When paroled from prison he escaped on a British ship and returned to Texas, just in time to be elected to the July convention of 1845. He favored annexation to the U.S. and helped write the first state constitution.
Navarro served as Senator in the First and Second State Legislature before returning to San Antonio to practice law. He favored secession and all four of his sons fought for the Confederacy. He was a member of American Virtue Lodge No. 10 at Saltillo, Mexico. Navarro County was named in his honor, and the county seat, Corsicana, was named for his father’s birthplace, the island of Corsica.
* From The Texas Mason
By Pete Normand, PM
Texas Lodge of Research
* The Texas Masons
The Fraternity of Ancient Free & Accepted Masons in the History of Texas
by Pete Normand, © 1986
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