John Henry Brown.

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Felipe in 1832 and 1833, asking for reforms in many
directions and the reforms had been denied and the
complaints of the petitioners treated with haughty
and indignant contempt. The remnant of the once
powerful Liberal party in Mexico, that in time
past had responded to the clarion calls of Hidalgo
and Morelos, had made its last stand for the
constitution and been irretrievably defeated upon
the blood-soaked plains of Guadalupe and Zacatecas
by the minions of Santa Anna, whose baleful star
was thpn rising towards its zenith. A strong central
despotism, inimical to the Anglo-American settlers
of Texas, was no longer a danger threatened by
the future, but an accomplished fact. To the
dullest ear was distinctly audible the rum-
blings of the approaching revolution. A crisis
was upon the country. It was a time to try the
stoutest hearts — for patriots to stand firm, coun-
sel resistance, and prepare for the impending
struggle, and for the timid to talk in bated
whispers and prate of compromise and peace,
when there could be no compromise and peace with-
out the dishonor of virtual slavery. On the one
hand was arrayed the powerful Mexican nation,
numbering several millions of inhabitants and
possessing an army and navy, well equipped and
well otfloered ; on the other a small band of pio-
neers, possessed of no resources and widely scat-
tered over a vast expanse of hill and valley, plain
and forest, and with no facilities for bringing about
speedy concentration and concert of action. Such
was the prospect that confronted the people of
Texas. It was gloomy indeed. But there were
those among the pioneers (and not a few) who had
inbibed with their mother's milk detestation of in-
justice and tyranny in all its forms and that love of
liberty and those manly sentiments that in all ages
have taught the brave to count danger and death as
nothing when their rights, liberties or honor were
invaded and could only be maintained by a
resort to the sword. Descended from a race
whose sons were among the first to respond



to their country's call in 1776 and strike for
the independence of the American Colonies,
young Pease was among the most outspoken of
those who precipitated the Texas revolution,
and in a few months was elected secretary of
the Committee of Safety, formed by the people of
Mina, the first of its kind organized in Texas. In
the following September, when couriers from Gon-
zales brought an appeal for armed assistance, he
hurried to that place as a volunteer in the company
commanded by Capt. R. M. Coleman, and had the
honor to fire a shot in the first battle and to help
win the first victory of the revolution. In a few
weeks he was granted a furlough on account of
sickness and in the latter part of November went
to San Felipe, where he was elected one of the two
secretaries of the first provisional government of
Texas, in which position he remained until the
government ad interim was organized, under Presi-
dent Burnet, March 18, 1836.

While he was not a delegate to the convention
that issued the declaration of Texas independence,
he was present at its sessions, was chosen and
served as one of its secretaries and helped to frame
the special ordinance that created the government
ad interim, and the constitution for the republic
adopted by it. The latter was formulated subject
to ratification or rejection by the people as soon as
an election could be held for that purpose.

During the summer he served as chief clerk, first
in the navy and then in the treasury department,
and for a short time acted as Secretary of the Treas-
ury upon the death of Secretary Hardeman.

In November, when Gen. Sam Houston was
President, he was appointed clerk of the Judiciary
Committee of the House of Representatives, and
while in that position drew up most of the laws
organizing the courts, creating county offices and
defining the duties of county officers ; also the fee-
bill and criminal code.

Upon the adjournment of Congress in Decem-
ber he was tendered the office of Postmaster
General by President Houston, but declined it and
entered the office of Col. John A. Wharton at Bra-
zoria, where he diligently applied himself to the
study of law. He was admitted to the bar at the
town of Washington, in April, 1837, but in June
following was tendered by President Houston and
accepted the office of Comptroller of Public Ac-
counts, which he filled until December and then
returned to Brazoria, where he formed a copart-
nership with Col. Wharton and entered actively
upon the practice of his profession. In 1838, John
W. Harris became associated with them and after
the death of Col. Wharton, which occurred a few

months later, the firm of Harris & Pease continued
for many years and became one of the most dis-
tinguished in the State. During this period Mr.
Pease served as District Attorney for a short time,
and, after annexation in 1846, was elected from
Brazoria County to the House of Representatives
of the First State Legislature and was re-elected in
1847 to the Second Legislature.

These were exceedingly important sessions, as
the building of the framework for a State govern-
ment had to be done from the ground up and the
future prosperity of the commonwealth and hap-
piness of its people largely depended upon the
wisdom or unwisdom displayed in the enactment
of statutes and the formulation of lines of public
policy for later administrations to follow or reject.
Both branches of the legislature contained many
men of commanding talents (Texas' brightest and
best, among whom Mr. Pease moved as a recog-
nized leader) and accomplished the arduous duties
that devolved upon it in a manner creditable to the
members and satisfactory to the people.

During his terms of service in the House he drew
up very nearly all the laws defining the jurisdiction
of courts, and, as chairman of the Judiciary Com-
mittee in the Second Legislature, originated and
pushed to enactment the probate laws of 1848.

In 1849 he was elected to the Senate of the Third
Legislature from the district composed of the
counties of Brazoria and Galveston, and at the
regular session of 1850 added to the laurels he had
already won and still further endeared himself to
a people not insensible to the merits of those who
had not only shown themselves true patriots and
devoted to the common cause in the darkest hours
of the country's history, but capable in time of
peace of guiding the ship of State. Being absent
from Texas when Governor Bell called an extra ses-
sion of the Legislature at a l^ter period in 1850, he
resigned and terminated his services as a lawmaker.
Thereafter until 1853 he devoted himself to his
law practice, but continued a prominent figure and
potent factor in public life and indenufied himself
with all principal movements that gave promise of
promoting the best interests of the country.

With other leading men he early saw the neces-
sity of railroads as a means of developing the vast
territory of the State, deprived as it was of interior
navigation except in neighborhoods not far remote
from the coast and at Jefferson on the extreme
Northeast, and advocated the construction of a
transcontinental railway to the Pacific ocean.
With Thomas J. Rusk, Gen. Sam Houston and
others, he earnestly favored the building of what is
now the Texas & Pacific Railroad, destined, after



passing through many changes and many doubtful
stages, and by the blending of many charters, to
ultimate construction and completion in 1881.

Mr. Pease was not long suffered to remain in
retirement. In 1853 he was elected Governor of
Texas, as the successor of Governor Bell, and
re-elected in 1855, Hardin R. Runnels being elected
Lieutenant-Governor. That he was one of the
ablest and purest Governors Texas has ever
had, is the unanimous opinion of all who
are conversant with the facts. His messages to
the Legislature are model State papers, not only
on account of the knowledge of the condition and
needs of the country and the principles of civil
government that they display, but for the wisdom
of the recommendations that they contain and the
elegance and perspicuity of their diction. During
the four years that he filled the gubernatorial chair,
alternate sections of land were set aside to promote
the construction of railroads, and much of our
earliest railroad legislation was enacted, lands were
set apart for free school purposes, a nucleus for the
present munificent school fund was formed, and a
handsome appropriation was made for the establish-
ment of a State university, for no man felt a deeper
interest in popular education or more fully realized
that the hope of constitutional freedom must ever
rest upon the intelligence of the citizen ; a new
State Capitol and other public buildings were erected,
and institutions for the insane, deaf and dumb, and
blind were founded, and liberal appropriations made
for their support. When his official life as Gov-
enor began, the State tax was twenty cents on the
one hundred dollars, and when his second term
expired it was fifteen cents and the State was
entirely free from debt.

In 1854, there was introduced into Texas a secret,
oath-bound, political organization, which became
known as the Know-Nothing or American party.
It transacted its business with closed doors and
in the latter year put forth a full ticket for State
offices. The principles of the new party were
designed to place restrictions upon foreign immi-
grants acquiring American citizenship, and to
impose restraints and civil disabilities upon those
professing the Catholic religion. Its methods, tenets
and purposes were assailed by Governor Pease.
A sturdy republican, he entertained an unconquer-
able hostility to secret political organizations,
believing that, while some excuse might be offered
for their formation under the despotisms of the old
world," none could be advanced for their existence
here. He considered them, per se, inimical and a
menace to our free institutions. As to debarring
worthy foreigners from the blessings and advan-

tages attendant upon American citizenship, the
idea to him was utterly repugnant. He remembered
that our ancestors themselves were emigrees from
Europe, that many men of foreign birth had fought
in the Continental army and afterwards adorned
the walks both of public and private life in the early
days of the republic, that many such men emigrated
from their distant homes to settle in the wilderness
of Texas and that not a few had honorably borne
arms in the struggle that won for Texas her inde-
pendence, and he knew that men who would leave
the land of their birth to escape tyranny and, in
search of liberty, cross the stormy deep in the
hope of bettering their conditions amid alien scenes
and among a people to whose very language they
were strangers, were made of stuff that fitted them
for the patriotic discharge of the duties incident to
self-government. His was not the spirit of the
glutton, who, careless of the welfare of others,
wishes all for himself, but that nobler spirit that
led the fathers of 1776 to boast that they had estab-
lished an asylum to which the oppressed of every
land might turn with the assurance of safety and
protection. As to religion, he believed that to be a
matter of conscience that should rest between each
man and his God and that should in no way be
interfered with by private individuals or the State.
He believed the action the Know-Nothing party
contemplated taking against Catholics and foreign
immigrants to be contrary to the history and tradi-
tions of our government and the genius of our insti-
tutions. So believing, he entered the campaign as
the standard-bearer of the opposition, known as the
Democratic party, but containing men of widely
divergent views, and, after a spirited and exciting
contest, was elected at the polls and entered upon
his second term.

The ticket put in the field by the Know-Nothing
party contained the first nominations made by a
political party in Texas. In fact, prior to 1855
there were no party organizations, properly so
called, in the State.

Before the close of Governor Pease's second
term, the whole country was stirred from center to
circumference over questions that aroused the
bitterest sectional feeling. Under the terms of the
Missouri Compromise of 1820 and 1821, the terri-
tories of Kansas and Nebraska when admitted
would necessarily enter the Union as free States.
In 1854, Senator Douglass, of Illinois, introduced
in Congress what was known as the Kansas and
Nebraska Bill (which became a law), in which it
was declared that the Missouri Compromise —
" Being inconsistent with the principles of non-
intervention by Congress with slavery in the States



and Territories, as recognized by the legislation of
1850, commonly called the Compromise Measures,
is hereby declared inoperative and void, it being
the true intent and meaning of this act, not to leg-
islate slavery into any Territory or State, nor to
exclude it therefrom, but to leave the people there-
of perfectly free to form and regulate their domestic
institutions in their own way, subject only to the
constitution of the United States."

Mr. Douglass' measure of course carried with it
the right of slave-owners to settle in Kansas and
Nebraslva with their slaves. The Eastern portion
of Kansas was regarded by many as a desirable
region in which to employ slave labor and many
Southern people located in it. The conflicts and
bloodshed that followed are familiar matters of
history. The passage of the act only served to in-
tensify sectional hatred. Gen. Houston, Senator
from Texas, voted against it for reasons which he
elaborated and which met with the sanction of Gov-
ernor Pease and others, who were firmly, convinced
that any attempt to establish slavery in that section
would prove futile and only serve to widen the
breach that separated the Southern and Northern
States, which, if not healed, threatened armed con-
flict and, probable dissolution of the Union. They
were for pouring oil upon the troubled waters and
not for still further agitating them. Gen. Houston
offered himself as a candidate for the Governor-
ship in opposition to Hardin K. Runnels, the sec-
ond nominee of the Democratic organization, and,
although he made a fine canvass, was supported by
Governor Pease (the first nominee of that party and
then occupying the Governor's chair) and had many
devoted admirers and supporters, public sentiment
was such that he was defeated, Runnels receiving a
majority of over ten thousand votes. Such was
the condition of affairs on the 21st of December,
1857, when a change of administration took place.
Two years later. Gen. Houston was elected to suc-
ceed Runnels, but a great crisis was at hand.
Threats were openly made that, if Mr. Lincoln was
elected, the Southern States would withdraw from
the Union and form a Confederacy of their own,
threats that were afterwards carried into execution.
Governor Pease opposed secession, and, finding that
his opposition was in vain, retired to private life.

He was a delegate from Texas to the convention
of Southern loyalists that met at Philadelphia in
1866 and was elected one of the vice-presidents of
that body. Later in the same year he was the can-
didate of the Union party for the office of Governor
of Texas, but was defeated by Hon. J. W.
Throckmorton. In August, 1867, he was appointed
Provisional Governor of the State by Gen. Sheridan,

but resigned before the end of the year because he
differed with the commanding general of the de-
partment. Gen. J. J. Reynolds, as to the course
that should be pursued in the reconstruction of the
State. He represented the State in the Liberal
Republican Convention of 1872 that assembled in
Chicago and nominated Horace Greeley for the
presidency. In later days he attended various
State and national Republican conventions and
continued to act with the Republican party.
Shortly after the war it was charged that he was
an extremist, but, it is a fact well and gratefully
remembered by the people of Texas that, when he
saw during the administration of Governor Davis
to what iniquities the extreme policy that was being
pursued would lead, he opposed it and threw
the great weight of his influence into the scales of

The stormy days before, during and after the
war are gone and the waves of passion and preju-
dice that beat so fiercely have subsided. The war
was inevitable. Questions were settled by it that
had long vexed the people and been a prolific
source of discord and that could have been settled
in no other way. Old social and commercial con-
ditions were changed that could have been changed
in no other way. Mutual confidence, respect and
friendship were restored as they could have been
restored in no other way, and a fraternal, and it is
to be hoped, eternal. Union secured that could have
been secured in no other way. Now we can enter
into full sympathy with those who could see neither
safety nor profit in continuing to live under a com-
pact of Union, every essential provision of which
they believed to have been violated, and who de-
termined to seek peace in a Confederation com-
posed of friendly States with interests in common.
We can also enter into full sympathy with those who
opposed the policy of secession. They thought that,
if wrong had been done, it could be redressed within
the Union — that the slavery and all other ques-
tions could be settled there. Governor Pease and
others of undoubted patriotism looked upon the
dissolution of the Union as the greatest calamity
that could befall the country. Upon the continu-
ation of that Union he believed depended the
destinies and future vpelfare of the race, for its
fall, he well knew, would seal the doom of free
institutions, which in a few years would perish from
the earth. "Should the blood" said men of his
party " shed upon the battle fields of the Revolution
of 1776, be shed in vain? Should the labors of
Washington and Jefferson and their compeers
prove unavaiUng? A thousand times no! " They
were right in their prognostications of the evils that



would inevitably follow a dissolution of the Union.
Tiiey were wrong in the belief that the questions
that divided the people, could be settled peace-
fully. From their standpoint they were right in
opposing secession. It is fortunate, all now agree,
that the attempt to secede was unsuccessful. It
was, however, written in the book of fate that it
should be made and fail. A stronger hand than
man's controlled the course of events and brought
about the beneficent results that have followed in
their train. We admire the moral and physical
courage that led men of both sides to brave ani-
madversion, the loss of prestige and death itself in
support of their opinions and principles that they
believed to be correct. They were animated by
that desire for the promotion of the general good
and by that spirit of their fathers that led Pym
and Hampden and Sidney to dare the block and the
soldiers at Concord to fire upon the British reg-
ulars. Let us strew flowers with impartial hand
upon those whom death has gathered in its cold
embrace and transmit their memories to posterity,
freed from reproach and with imperishable assur-
ances of our love and veneration for them.

There was nothing of the time-serving spirit in
Governor Pease's composition. He was incapable
of allowing a desire for personal aggrandizement or
for the promotion of any of his private interests to
induce him to compromise with what he believed to
be wrong. He stood for principles and, seeing
that they were about to be violated, he could not
remain silent and inactive. He had no superstitious
reverence for majorities. He knew full well that
majorities are often wrong and that the pages of
history are stained and blurred all over by records
of the mistakes they have made, and the crimes
they have committed. The majority believed for
centuries that the earth was flat and the center
of the universe ; in witches and wizards and necro-
mancy ; that it was impious to attempt by sanitary
measures to stay the pestilence, which they consid-
ered a divine visitation upon the people for their
sins, and it was in accordance with the will of
majorities that Christ was condemned to a shameful
death upon the cross, the fires of persecution were
kept ablaze at Smithfleld and Oxford, and many
noble lives were sacrificed and much cruel wrong
inflicted. He believed that the day had not yet
come when majorities were invested with the attri-
butes of infallibility. If the majority was right, he
cheerfully went with it. If he considered it in error,
he as manfully opposed it, nor could he be com-
pelled by any consideration to cease his opposition.
Even his opponents at all times freely admitted his
honesty of character and purpose. He retired from
office enjoying the respect of all the people.

In 1874 he was tendered the oflSce of Collector of
the Port of Galveston by Secretary of the Interior
Bristow, but declined it.

In 1877 he retired from the active practice of law
in which he had been engaged, except when em-
ployed in the discharge of public duties, since

In 1879 he was tendered, without solicitation
upo;i his part, the CoUectorship of the port of Gal-
veston, and, this time, accepted Jt. This was his
last public service.

He was vice-president of the First National Bank
of Austin, at the time of his death, which occurred
at Lampasas Springs, Texas, August 26, 1883, where
he had gone in search of health. § His remains were
interred in the cemetery at^Austin.

Governor Pease became a Mason in 1839, joining
St. John's Lodge, No. 5, at Columbia, Texas and took
all the regular degrees. ^He was not a member of
any religious organization, but attended the services
of the Episcopal Church, the church in which he
was reared.

As a lawyer he had few equals in the State. His
briefs were always clear, [^fair and logical, and,
while his patient research armed him at every point
in a case, he never sought undue advantage. So
fixed were these traits [that Chief Justice Wheeler
once said that the statements of facts in his briefs
were always so lucid and j just he could rely upon
them without reference to the record. He was fre-
quently consulted upon important public matters
having a legal bearing, even after his retirement
from practice, and always rendered such services
without charge.

Sincerity and candor, and an observance of the
golden rule marked his intercourse with his fellow-
men. Courtly in manner, kindly and genial, he
enjoyed the affectionate regard of the circle of
friends whom he admitted to his acquaintance. He
had as much infiuence in framing the public policies
and general laws of the State as any man who ever
lived in Texas. He was identified with the soil
from the days antedating the revolution. It was
his fortune to perform many important public ser-
vices. His career covered the most momentous
periods known to our history. He was the intimate
friend and associate of such men as W^harton,
Houston, Williamson, Rusk and Archer, and the
leaders of thought ^of later days, and his name de-
serves a place beside theirs upon the pages of the
State's history.

He was married in 1850 to Miss L. C. Niles, a
daughter of Col. Richard Niles, of Windsor, Conn.
This accomplished and most excellent lady, and her
only surviving daughter, live at the family. seat
near the city of Austin.





One of Bed River County's early^settlers, a noble
Christian woman who linked her name permanently
with that of the county's history, was born August
10th, 1805, in Montgomery County, Ky., and was a
daughter of Frank and Katie (Elliott) Hopkins, of
Kentucky. Her paternal grandfather, Wm. Hop-
kins, was from one of the New England States, and
her maternal grandfather, James Elliott, was from
Virginia. Her maternal grandmother was Katie
(Stewart) Elliott of Virginia. Her father was a
leading and wealthy planter of Kentucky. He
moved to Indiana the year of the battle of Tippe-
canoe, carrying with him all his slaves, which he
lost by some legal technicality. In 1823 he moved
to Texas, settling at the mouth of Mill creek, which
is now in Bowie County. At that time all the white

Online LibraryJohn Henry BrownIndian wars and pioneers of Texas → online text (page 39 of 135)