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Presidential candidate drowns in Galveston Bay

July
11
1838

On this day in 1838, James Collinsworth fell or jumped off a boat in Galveston Bay and drowned. Collinsworth, born in Tennessee in 1806, was a candidate for the presidency of the Republic of Texas, along with Mirabeau B. Lamar and Peter W. Grayson. Collinsworth served as a district attorney in Tennessee, where he was a political ally of Andrew Jackson and Sam Houston, but moved to Texas by 1835. He represented Brazoria at the Convention of 1836 and was a signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence. Collinsworth later served as Houston's aide-de-camp, in the Senate of the republic, and as the first chief justice of the republic. He also helped organize the Texas Railroad, Navigation, and Banking Company and was a charter member of the Philosophical Society of Texas. His death, which occurred less than two weeks after the announcement of his candidacy for president, was generally presumed to have been a suicide, and his body lay in state in the capitol in Houston. In 1876 the legislature named Collingsworth County in his honor, though the act establishing the county misspelled his name.

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