The story of our family...for my sons

Friday, October 21, 2011

Revolutionary...Jose Antonio Navarro

José Antonio Navarro (February 27, 1795 – January 13, 1871) was a Texas statesman, revolutionary, politician, 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. (modern-day 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.

Navarro was proficient in the laws of Mexico and Spain, although basically a self-educated man. 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. Working together, they would become the founding fathers of Texas.

An early proponent of Texas independence, he took part in the 1812-1813 Magee, Gutiérrez and Toledo resistance movements and later served as a leader in the Texas Revolution. Working with the empresarios of the period, he helped Stephen F. Austin obtain his contracts and would himself become a land commissioner for Dewitt's Colony and, soon after, the Béxar District. In 1825 Navarro would marry Margarita de la Garza and they would raise seven children. During the 1830s Navarro represented Texas both in the legislature of the state of Coahuila and Texas and in the federal Congress in Mexico City. Always a champion of democratic ideas, Navarro, collaborating with Austin, worked to pass legislation that would best benefit the people of Texas.

Navarro had been at the Convention for Texas Independence, when he received the somber news from Juan Seguin, of the Alamo's fall. With James Bowie (his nephew by marriage) now deceased, José Antonio would secure the release of the surviving Navarros, two women and a child, who were being held by the Mexicans at the Músquiz house. They would be removed to the Navarro family home. The surviving noncombatants thereby avoided the forthcoming humiliation from Santa Anna. He would be one of the original signers of the Texas Declaration of Independence in 1836.

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

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 member of the Republic of Texas Congress from Bexar County, Texas. Attempting to keep a balance of power in Congress, he worked closely with Senator Juan Seguin to promote legislation that would also be favorable to the Tejano citizenry of Texas, who were quickly becoming the political minority . Education was one such priority, lobbying to bring academic institutions into the San Antonio area. In 1845 Navarro was instrumental in drafting the first state Constitution of Texas, ensuring future political rights for all peoples. He would support annexation of Texas to the United States. Elected to the Texas Senate, he served three terms, before retiring from politics in 1849.

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