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Home North Carolina Lincoln County City of Lincolnton Historical Markers James Pinckney Henderson 1808-1858

James Pinckney Henderson 1808-1858

NC-182, Lincolnton, NC, USA

Latitude & Longitude: 35° 27' 32.4828", -81° 19' 0.0804"
  North Carolina State Historical Marker
    North Carolina State
Historical Marker
    Marker Text:
"First governor of Texas, 1846-47; U.S. Senator; officer, Mexican War. His birthplace here."
     James Pinckney Henderson, first governor of Texas, was born on March 31, 1809, in Lincolnton, the son of Lawson and Elizabeth Carruth Henderson. Henderson received his early education at Lincoln Academy before studying law privately at the University of North Carolina and receiving his admission to the bar in 1829. Six years later he moved to Canton, Mississippi, where he opened a law practice.

     Shortly after arriving in Mississippi, Henderson expressed an interest in moving to Texas. In 1836 he organized a company of Mississippi volunteers to assist the Texas Revolution, but the Mexicans withdrew from the struggling republic before Henderson’s men arrived. When Sam Houston took office as president of Texas, he first appointed Henderson the republic’s attorney general, and then secretary of state following the death of Stephen F. Austin. A year later Houston sent Henderson to England and France as an emissary seeking recognition for the republic.

     In 1840 Henderson returned to Texas, after marrying a Philadelphia native, Elizabeth Cox, in London while on his mission. The newlyweds settled in San Augustine, producing a family of five children. In 1844, Henderson served as part of the commission that eventually led to Texas being annexed by the United States, and took part in the drafting of the first state constitution. On February 19, 1846, Henderson was elected governor of the new state.

     Shortly after his election, the Mexican War began, and the state legislature granted Henderson a leave of absence to take the field as a major general in the Texas state troops. He led his men at the battle of Monterey, and was one of three American commissioners that accepted the city’s surrender. He then returned to his gubernatorial responsibilities and finished out his term.

     Henderson returned to his law practice after the war, but in 1857 accepted the unexpired term of the late Senator Thomas J. Rusk. While in Washington, D. C. Henderson died of an unrecorded ailment, and was buried in the Congressional Cemetery. He was reinterred in Austin in 1930. Henderson County, Texas, is named for him.

William S. Powell, ed., Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, III (1988), 101-102—sketch by J. Tuffly Ellis
George P.Garrison, ed., Diplomatic Correspondence of the Republic of Texas (1908-1911)
Joseph William Schmitz, Texas Statecraft, 1836-1845 (1941)
Robert Glenn Winchester, James Pinckney Henderson: Texas’ First Governor (1971)
James Pinckney Henderson 1808-1858 Historical Marker Location Map, Lincolnton, North Carolina