José Antonio Navarro

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For the boxer, see José Navarro (boxer).
José Antonio Navarro
Navarroportrait.jpg
Personal details
Born February 27, 1795
San Antonio, Texas
Died January 13, 1871
San Antonio
Nationality Spanish (1795–1821), Mexican (1821–1836), Tejano (1836–1848) and American (1848–1871)
Profession statesman, revolutionary, politician, and merchant
Navarro statue at the Navarro County Courthouse in Corsicana, Texas
Inscription on base of statue depicts Navarro as a "Lover of Liberty" and a "Foe of Despotism".

José Antonio Navarro (February 27, 1795 – January 13, 1871) was a Texas statesman, revolutionary, politician, rancher, and merchant. The son of Ángel Navarro and Josefa María Ruiz y Pena, he was born into a distinguished noble family at San Antonio de Béxar in New Spain (now the American city of San Antonio, Texas). His uncle was José Francisco Ruiz and his brother-in-law was Juan Martín de Veramendi. Navarro County, Texas, is named in his honor.[1]

Texas patriot[edit]

Navarro was proficient in the laws of Mexico and Spain, although basically a self-educated man.[1] A native Texan, he had a vision of the future of Texas like that of Stephen F. Austin, and a lasting friendship developed between the two.[2] Working together, they would become the founding fathers of Texas.[3]

An early proponent of Texas independence, he took part in the 1812–1813 Magee, Gutiérrez and Toledo resistance movements.

Working with the impresarios of the period, he helped Stephen F. Austin obtain his contracts to bring settlers into the area[2] He himself became a land commissioner for Dewitt's Colony and, soon after, for the Béxar District. In 1825 Navarro married Margarita de la Garza and they raised seven children.

During the early 1830s Navarro represented Texas both in the legislature of the State of Coahuila and Texas and in the federal Congress in Mexico City.[4] Always a champion of democratic ideas, Navarro, collaborating with Austin, worked to pass legislation that would best benefit the people of Texas.[2]

Navarro later served as a leader in the Texas Revolution.[5] He was at the Convention for Texas Independence,[6] when he received the somber news from Juan Seguin, of the Alamo's fall.[7] With James Bowie (his nephew by marriage) killed there, Navarro had to secure the release of the surviving Navarros, two women and a child,[8] who were being held by the Mexicans at the Músquiz house.[9] They were removed to the Navarro family home.[10] The surviving noncombatants [11] thereby avoided humiliation or death from General Antonio López de Santa Anna.[9] Jose Antonio Navarro was one of the original signers of the Texas Declaration of Independence, in early March, 1836, in Washington-on-the-Brazos.[12] He later signed the Constitution of the Republic of Texas.

In 1841, Navarro reluctantly participated in the failed Santa Fe Expedition sent by President Mirabeau B. Lamar, where he tried to persuade the residents of New Mexico to secede and join with Texas.[13] He was captured, put on trial, sentenced to death, and imprisoned for years.[14] He was given the choice of freedom, but refused to renounce Texas and remained a prisoner in Mexico. He finally escaped with the help of sympathetic Mexican Army officials, sailing back to Texas.[15]

In 1835, Navarro built the Celso-Navarro House, relocated to the Witte Museum in San Antonio, where it houses some administrative offices.

José Antonio Navarro became a Representative in the Republic of Texas Congress from Bexar County, Texas. Attempting to keep a balance of power, he worked closely with Senator Juan Seguin to promote legislation favorable to the Tejano citizenry, who were quickly becoming the political minority . Education was one such priority, working to bring academic institutions into the San Antonio area.[16] He supported the Annexation of Texas by the United States. In 1845 Navarro was instrumental in drafting the first state Constitution of Texas, ensuring future political rights for all peoples. Elected to the Texas Senate, he served three terms, before retiring from politics in 1849.[15]

Later life[edit]

In his retirement Navarro wrote several historical and political essays about Texas and San Antonio's role in the Mexican Independence movement for the San Antonio Ledger.

Ranching occupied much of his time in later years, and he spent most of each spring, summer, and fall on the 6,000-acre (24 km2) Geronimo Creek ranch, rich grasslands near Seguin, Texas, about 35 miles east of San Antonio.[17]

Navarro ranch near the Geronimo, TexasGeronimo Creek and Seguin, Texas. An early concrete house, since destroyed.

Navarro later sold his ranch and lived full-time in San Antonio, where he died in 1871. All Texans mourned his death. The editor of a local newspaper said it best, "To none of her greatest statesman nor to her many eminent patriots is Texas more indebted for her existence than to Jose Antonio Navarro."

Legacy[edit]

The Texas Legislature named Navarro County, created south of Dallas, to honor his service in 1846. The county seat of Navarro County was named Corsicana, in honor of his family's Corsican-Mediterranean heritage. A Texas State Historical Marker identifies his Geronimo Creek ranch; the nearby local schools and surrounding district are named Navarro. In Downtown San Antonio, Navarro St is also named for him.

Casa Navarro State Historic Site in San Antonio is the original residence complex of José Antonio Navarro. He first bought the property, about 1.5 acres, in 1832. The structures of limestone, caliche block, and adobe were built over the next 20 years or so. The site is situated in the heart of old San Antonio. The buildings were acquired and restored by the San Antonio Conservation Society, and the complex, including his one-story limestone home, kitchen, and a two-story store and offices, was opened to the public in October 1964. The site was placed on the National Register in 1972, and is now operated by the Texas Historical Commission.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Lozano (1985), p. 30.
  2. ^ a b c Todish (1998), p. 107.
  3. ^ Tovares (2004), PBS American Experience, Remember the Alamo.
  4. ^ Edmonson (2000), p. 105.
  5. ^ Edmonson (2000), p. 38.
  6. ^ Matovina (1995), p. 26.
  7. ^ de la Teja (1991), p. 26.
  8. ^ Groneman (1990), pp. 5, 83.
  9. ^ a b Matovina (1995), p. 66.
  10. ^ Lord (1961), p. 176.
  11. ^ Todish (1998), p. 91.
  12. ^ Brands (2005), p. 382.
  13. ^ Lozano (1985), p. 31.
  14. ^ de la Teja (1991), p. 101.
  15. ^ a b Lozano (1985), p. 32.
  16. ^ de la Teja (1991), p. 34.
  17. ^ Navarro Ranch
  • Brands, H.W. (2005), Lone Star Nation: The Epic Story of the Battle for Texas Independence, 1835, New York: Random House, Inc., ISBN 1-4000-3070-6 
  • del la Teja, Jesus (1991), A Revolution Remembered: The Memoirs and Selected Correspondence of Juan N. Seguin, Austin, TX: State House Press, ISBN 0-938349-68-6 
  • Edmondson, J.R. (2000), The Alamo Story-From History to Current Conflicts, Plano, TX: Republic of Texas Press, ISBN 1-55622-678-0 
  • Groneman, Bill (1990), Alamo Defenders, A Genealogy: The People and Their Words, Austin, TX: Eakin Press, ISBN 0-89015-757-X 
  • Lindley, Thomas Ricks (2003), Alamo Traces: New Evidence and New Conclusions, Lanham, MD: Republic of Texas Press, ISBN 1-55622-983-6 
  • Lord, Walter (1961), A Time to Stand, Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, ISBN 0-8032-7902-7 
  • Lozano, Ruben Rendon (1985), Viva Texas: The Story of the Tejanos, the Mexican-born Patriots of the Texas Revolution, San Antonio, TX: The Alamo Press, ISBN 0-943260-02-7 
  • Matovina, Timothy M. (1995), The Alamo Remembered: Tejano Accounts and Perspectives, Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, ISBN 0-292-75186-9 
  • Poyo, Gerald Eugene (1996), Tejano journey, 1770–1850, Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, ISBN 0-292-76570-3 
  • Ramos, Raul A. (2008), Beyond the Alamo, forging Mexican ethnicity in San Antonio, 1821–1861, NC: The University of North Carolina Press, ISBN 0-8078-3207-3 
  • Todish, Timothy J.; Todish, Terry; Spring, Ted (1998), Alamo Sourcebook, 1836: A Comprehensive Guide to the Battle of the Alamo and the Texas Revolution, Austin, TX: Eakin Press, ISBN 978-1-57168-152-2 
  • Tovares, Joseph (2004), Remember the Alamo, Produced by Tovares, PBS American Experience 
  • Winders, Richard Bruce (2004), Sacrificed at the Alamo: Tragedy and Triumph in the Texas Revolution, Austin, TX: State House Press, ISBN 1-880510-81-2 


Further reading[edit]

  • David McDonald, Jose Antonio Navarro: In Search of the American Dream in Nineteenth-Century Texas (Texas State Historical Association, 2011)
  • "Defending Mexican Valor in Texas: Jose Antonio Navarro's Historical Writings, 1853–1857," by Jose Antonio Navarro, David R. McDonald, Timothy M. Matovina Pric, State House Press, October 1995, ISBN 978-1-880510-31-5.
  • "In Storms of Fortune: The Public Life of José Antonio Navarro" written by Anastacio Bueno M.A. Thesis, University of Texas at San Antonio, 1978.
  • "Jose Antonio Navarro, co-creator of Texas," Baylor University Press, 1969, 127 pages, ASIN: B0006CAIBS.
  • "Remember the Alamo" The American Experience, PBS.(2004)[1]

External links[edit]

Preceded by
None
Texas State Senator
from District 18

1846–1849
Succeeded by
Alexander H. Phillips