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Texas Railroad, Navigation, and Banking Company chartered
December 16, 1836

On this day in 1836, the Congress of the Republic of Texas chartered the Texas Railroad, Navigation, and Banking Company. The short-lived company was authorized to connect Gulf ports by canal, to construct railroads wherever desirable, and to have banking privileges as soon as one-fifth of its capital stock of $5 million had been subscribed. Though Congress approved the charter without opposition, and though the company apparently had the support of Sam Houston and Stephen F. Austin, it became a political issue in the election of Anson Jones, who attacked the venture mainly because of the banking provision. Unable to sell its stock because of public opposition aroused by Jones and because of the panic of 1837, the company collapsed before achieving any of its ambitious goals.

Republic of Fredonia stillborn in Nacogdoches
December 16, 1826

On this day in 1826, Benjamin Edwards and about thirty men rode into Nacogdoches and declared the Republic of Fredonia, thus instituting an attempted minor revolution known as the Fredonian Rebellion. Benjamin was the brother of Haden Edwards, who had received a grant near Nacogdoches and had settled some fifty families there. Fearing that the brothers were about to lose their land, Benjamin took the desperate step of declaring independence from Mexico. In spite of an attempt to get the Cherokees to help, the revolt was easily crushed by Mexican authorities, and Edwards was forced to flee across the Sabine. In 1837 he ran for governor of Mississippi, but died during the campaign.

Future Texas governor born in Georgia
December 16, 1861

On this day in 1861, Oscar Branch Colquitt, politician and governor, was born at Camilla, Georgia. His family moved in 1878 to Daingerfield, Texas, where young Colquitt worked as a tenant farmer. He became a newspaper publisher and entered politics as a state senator in 1895. Colquitt made an unsuccessful run for governor in 1906 and was elected in 1910 as an anti-prohibitionist. After being reelected in 1912, he held the office until 1915. His administration achieved a reform of the prison system, improvement in the physical plants and management of the charity institutions, great advancement in the educational system, and a number of measures designed to improve the lot of laborers. He left politics for a number of years after an unsuccessful bid for the U.S. Senate in 1916, but returned as leader of the "Hoover Democrats" in 1928. Colquitt was a self-made man, obstinate yet affable. Though not a polished orator, he was a convincing speaker and possessed of the "color that drew a crowd"; he was one of the most effective stump speakers in the history of Texas.

Sul Ross takes command of Confederate cavalry brigade
December 16, 1863

On this day in 1863, Confederate colonel Sul Ross assumed command of a brigade formed from the Third, Sixth, Ninth, and Twenty-seventh Texas Cavalry regiments, and the men in these units thereafter fought together as Ross's Brigade. Lawrence Sullivan Ross was born in Iowa in 1838; his family moved to Texas a year later. He realized his early ambition to become an Indian fighter like his father, Shapley Ross, when he served in campaigns with the Texas Rangers against the Comanches in 1858 and 1860; in the latter year he led the raid that resulted in the recapture of Cynthia Ann Parker. With the coming of the Civil War he joined the Confederate forces and rose to command the Sixth Texas Cavalry. He was promoted to the rank of general soon after taking command of Ross's Brigade. Under his able leadership, his brigade saw action in the Atlanta and Franklin-Nashville campaigns, although Ross was in Texas on furlough when his men surrendered at Jackson, Mississippi, in May 1865. After the war he served Texas as a state senator and then as governor from 1886 to 1891.