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The Fearless Fifty-Nine, Thomas Jefferson Rusk

Thomas Jefferson Rusk was the 32 year old from Nacogdoches. Rusk started out as a lawyer in Georgia around 1825. He made sizable mining investments in the gold region of Georgia but in 1834, the managers of the company that he invested in had embezzled all the funds and fled to Texas. He pursed them but never recovered the money. However, he decided to stay in Texas in 1835. He quickly entangled himself in the revolution and organized volunteers from Nacogdoches to help Stephen F. Austin’s army in preventing the Mexicans from seizing their cannon. At the Convention, he chaired the committee to revise the Constitution. In March 1836, he was appointed secretary of war by the ad interim government. Once the Alamo had fallen, Rusk helped President Burnet move the government to Harrisburg. Rusk and Houston decided to move troops to Buffalo Bayou but kept the plan secret as security measure. After participating in the battle of San Jacinto, he served as commander in chief of the Army of the Republic of Texas from May 4 to October 31, 1836. He followed the Mexican troops back to Mexico and prevented further attacks from them on Texas. From 1837 to 1838 he was a representative in Texas Congress. In 1838 he worked with the Nacogdoches to suppress several Indian uprisings that were believed to be in with Mexico. At the end of 1838, Rusk was elected chief justice of the Supreme Court then later headed the bar of Texas. At the time he was a part of the most famous law firm that handled the murder of delegate Robert Potter. He was president of the Convention of 1845 and heavily supported annexation. Rusk along with Houston went on to be the first US Senators from Texas from 1846 to 1857. He was encouraged to run for President of the U.S. in 1856 but declined. Rusk committed suicide in July 1857 after being ill from a tumor and being despondent over the death of his wife.