Clipped From The Kerrville Times
Last years of a lost president Oct. 10, 1859, Mirabeau Lamar was reunited with his family after a difficult two-year separation. As usual, the footloose former president president swore (hat he was home to stay, but this time fate forced him to keep his word. Stepping down as Lone Star chief executive in December 1842, Lamar was a physical and emotional emotional wreck. Not only had his grand plan of setting the new nation on an irreversibly independent course gone awry, but the voters had picked Sam Houston over soul- mate David O. Burnet as his successor. A much anticipated trip to Georgia Georgia to visit his daughter Rebecca, whom he had seen just twice in seven seven years, was nearly permanently postponed by a duel. Blaming Lamar Lamar for his recent rejection as vice- president, Memucan Hunt demanded demanded satisfaction, but mutual friends managed to defuse the private private powderkeg. When the widower emigrated to Texas in 1835, he left his only child with relatives in Macon, Georgia. In the summer of 1843, he received received a letter that broke his heart: Rebecca was dead, the victim of a mysterious malady that quickly claimed her life. As he had done during his crisis- ridden administration when presidential presidential pressures caused him to take a scandalous sabbatical, Lamar cracked under the strain. Once more all he wanted to do was run away. Convincing himself that travel was the best antidote for his grief, he closed the plantation and hit the road. Extended stays in Georgia, where he wept over Rebecca's grave, and New York consumed the balance of 1843 and all of 1844. Then in February 1845, he was received in Washington, D.C., as an unofficial emissary of exotic Texas. Bartee Haile TEXAS HISTORY Honored with a "courtesy" seat in the United States Senate, the erstwhile erstwhile champion of Lone Star sovereignty sovereignty stunned his hosts with a zealous appeal for annexation. Hoping that the long vacation had revived the interest of their enigmatic hero in public affairs, Lamar's Lamar's admirers encouraged him to campaign for the Senate. He refused refused to make the race, thus opening opening the way for Thomas Rusk to join Sam Houston as the second Senator Senator from the 28th state. In the initial phase of the Mexican Mexican War, Lamar served under General General Zachary Taylor and fought with distinction at the Battle of Monterrey. He spent the rest of the conflict at Laredo, which he briefly represented in the second Texas legislature; legislature; that turned out to be his last elective office. By late 1848, Lamar was again on the move wandering with no discernible discernible purpose across the South. Then, in 1850, he fell head over heels in love with the 23-year-old daughter of a Methodist minister, and the May-December romance blossomed into marriage the following following February. After the birth of a baby girl, the happy couple set up housekeeping in 1852 on the small estate outside Richmond. Financial problems soon threatened their wedding bliss. Failing as a planter as well as an author, the hapless husband sank deeper and deeper into debt. In desperation, Lamar appealed to Senator Rusk to use his influence to put him on the government payroll. payroll. Against his better judgment, the loyal friend arranged for a presidential presidential appointment. While Lamar dreamed of a prestigious prestigious post that would resurrect his political career as well as heal his pocketbook, he wound up settling settling for the bottom of the diplomatic diplomatic ladder. After borrowing the money money for a suitable wardrobe, the new American minister to Nicaragua Nicaragua and Costa Rica arrived at Managua in January 1858. For twenty miserable months, the illustrious Texan languished in the cursed tropican purgatory. However, for an amateur ambassador ambassador he was generously compen- stated and able to pay off his creditors. Although Lamar had to first recover recover from his lucrative diplomatic coup, at sixty-two, he looked forward forward to starting a new life. The Central American climate had sapped his strength, and the slightest slightest exertion left him utterly exhausted. Despite the constant care of his doting wife, Lamar grew weaker. Rising the morning of December 19, 1859, his heart suddenly stopped. He collapsed on the bedroom bedroom floor. In a matter of seconds, the old hero was no more. Mirabeau Lamar knew only peaks and valleys. Battlefield bravery bravery at San Jacinto propelled him into the presidency of the Texas Republic. Republic. From there the sky should have been the limit, but the introspective introspective visionary, who was more comfortable with poetry than politics, politics, lacked purpose and staying power. When life did not go according according to plan, he picked up his marbles marbles and went home. ••rtM ttalto to • TMM hMortan.