Isaac Van Zandt

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Isaac Van Zandt

Isaac Van Zandt (July 10, 1813 – October 11, 1847) was a political leader in the Republic of Texas. Van Zandt County, Texas, was named in his honor.

Life and career[edit]

Van Zandt was born in Franklin County, Tennessee in the United States to Jacob and Mary Isaacs Van Zandt. The Van Zandt family had migrated to America from Holland prior to the American Revolutionary War.[1] In 1833 he married Frances Lipscomb and went into a joint business venture with his father by opening a store. Van Zandt later moved to Coffeeville, Mississippi, where he opened his own store. After experiencing financial difficulties after the depression of 1837, Van Zandt became interested in a debate society which enabled him to use his natural talent for public speaking. This spurred an interest in law and within a year he was a member of the Mississippi bar.

He came to the Republic of Texas in 1838 and settled in Elysian Fields in what was then Panola County. In 1839 he moved to what is now Marshall, Texas.

Van Zandt was the representative of Harrison County in the House of Representatives of the Republic of Texas from 1840 until 1842, when Sam Houston appointed him Republic of Texas Chargé d'Affaires in Washington, DC. In 1841 Van Zandt donated land, along with Peter Whetestone, to create a county seat for Harrison County. Van Zandt named the new city in honor of the Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court John Marshall. As the Republic of Texas ambassador to the United States Van Zandt was instrumental in crafting the Annexation Treaty of the Republic of Texas to the U.S.

He returned to Texas in 1845 to serve as a delegate to the Texas state constitutional convention. Van Zandt died during a yellow fever epidemic in Houston while campaigning for governor in 1847.

The Van Zandt family donated their plantation as the site for the College of Marshall in 1912. In 1936 a memorial was constructed in Canton, the seat of Van Zandt County. Isaac Van Zandt is the father of Texas politician and businessman K. M. Van Zandt and his sister Ida Van Zandt Jarvis, a generous benefactor and the first female trustee of Texas Christian University (TCU). Isaac was also the third great-grandfather of country music songwriter and performer Townes Van Zandt.

External links[edit]


  1. ^ K.M. Van Zandt, Force Without Fanfare: The Autobiography of K.M. Van Zandt (Fort Worth: Texas Christian Univ Pr, 1995), p. 1.