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Charles B. Stewart

Signer of the Declaration of Independence
By Sam Houston Dixon 


Came to Texas in 1830
Member of the Consultation 1835
Executive Secretary To Governor Smith
Delegate to the Convention Which Met at Old Washington, March 1, 1836 Member Annexation Convention 1845
First Legislature
Death in Montgomery County


Charles B. Stewart was a man of splendid intellectual attainments and distinguished himself in the early days of the Republic as a prudent and courageous defender of the principles of liberty, for which the colonists were battling.  During his fifty years residence in Texas he witnessed many scenes, which are records of historical interest and value. He began his public career as an officer of the General Consultation at San Felipe in 1835. During the convention he demonstrated his fitness for place of responsibility, and when a provisional government was formed and Henry Smith elected provisional governor, he appointed Mr. Stewart Executive Secretary, an office at that critical period of the State’s history, second only in importance to that of the governor.  In this position he rendered signal service to the government.  He was methodical, courteous and affable, and the records of his office were kept in complete order.  When the Chief Executive or the General Council desired to examine any particular file of his office he was always ready to put his hands on it without a moment’s delay.

            Governor Smith found Mr. Stewart a safe and wise counselor, and testified to his splendid character in this language:

            “Mr. Stewart was very conscientious and scrupulously honest in all his dealing, both of a private and public nature.  He was not easily disturbed by adverse criticism, and when the General Council demanded that the records of his office be turned over to them, he refused without displaying anger or concern.  When they attempted to discharge him for refusing to obey their demands, he continued to perform his duties as if nothing had occurred, merely informing me of these happenings without comment.”

            Mr. Stewart was born in South Carolina, August 8, 1806. He came to Texas from Louisiana in 1830, and soon became a prominent and conspicuous leader among the colonists.  He was a member of the Consultation of 1835.  After the adjournment of the Consultation and the provisional government had been established, he was appointed Executive Secretary to Governor Henry Smith.  He remained a strong supporter of Governor Smith when the General Council attempted to remove him (Smith) from from office.  On Mr. Stewart’s refusal to turn over the archives of his office to Lieutenant Governor J. W. Robinson, whom the Council had recognized as governor, he was fined $2,500 by the General Council.  No effort, however, was ever made to collect the fine.

            When the convention was called to meet at Old Washington, March 1, 1836, Mr. Stewart was elected a delegate to this convention, and thus became a signer of the Declaration of Independence adopted by that convention.  He took a most prominent part in the convention proceedings and served on the committee to draft a constitution for the new government [Republic of Texas].

            Mr. Stewart located permanently in Montgomery County.  He represented that county in the Convention of 1845, which formed the Constitution under which Texas was annexed to the United States.  He also represented Montgomery County in the First Texas legislature in 1846.  He represented Montgomery County in the Legislature in 1851-52, 1876-77 and again in 1883-84.

            Mr. Stewart retained to the very last a vivid recollection of the early struggles of the Texas pioneers.  The writer had many conversations with him at his home in Montgomery County and while he was a member of the Texas legislature, and secured from him valuable historical information pertaining to the early history of Texas and the pioneers who took part in establishing civil and religious liberty in the Republic.  His account of Chief Field’s, of the Cherokees, attempt to establish a branch of that tribe on Clear Lake, Montgomery County, is the most authentic record of that event of which students of Texas history have any knowledge.

            Mr. Stewart left a family of sons and daughters who became prominent and useful citizens of the State.

            Governor E. M. Pease, who became acquainted with Mr. Stewart in 1835 and who met him frequently in after years, said this of him:

            “Among those whose acquaintance I made as early as 1835 there were none for whom I had greater respect.  He was one of the most consistent men I ever met.  He was loyal to his friends and his convictions and could not be driven from either.  He was universally popular with all classes; serene under difficulties, quiet and reflective at all times and never attempted to force his views on anyone.  As a lawmaker he was cautious and prudent, but stood firm to his convictions.  Because of this he was thought by some to be arbitrary.  But he was not.  He was never influenced by popular clamor, nor was he easily led to embrace policies of doubtful wisdom.  He was never a seeker after public position, but he never shirked responsibilities placed upon him.  He lived and died fond of his friends, loyal to his government and to his country.”

Text from The Men Who Made Texas Free, Sam Houston Dixon, 1924, Texas Historical Publishing Company, Houston, pp. 239 - 241.  Reprinted with permission of Kameron Searle from Texas History Page.



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