DORN, ANDREW JACKSON
DORN, ANDREW JACKSON (1815–1889). Andrew Jackson Dorn, state treasurer and Confederate soldier, was born in Montgomery County, New York, on December 8, 1815. He graduated from the University of Vermont and in 1842 moved to St. Louis, Missouri. On June 19, 1846, with the outbreak of the Mexican War, he was elected first lieutenant and commander of a company of Lt. Col. Meriwether L. Clark's Missouri volunteer artillery battalion. This battalion served under Brig. Gen. Stephen Watts Kearny in New Mexico and California. By his own account, Dorn left the volunteer service on June 24, 1847, with the rank of major. After the war he remained in the regular United States Army as a second lieutenant of the Third Dragoons. Although he claimed to have achieved the rank of colonel and to have remained in the old army until the outbreak of the Civil War, he was in fact mustered out of federal service on July 31, 1848. When Missouri attempted to leave the Union in 1861 Dorn volunteered for service under his old Mexican War companion, Maj. Gen. Sterling Price, and was named paymaster of the pro-Confederate Missouri State Guard. In 1862 he transferred to the command of Maj. Gen. Samuel Bell Maxey in Indian Territory and was named commander of the Indian units allied with the Confederacy.
At the end of the Civil War Dorn moved to Bonham, Texas, where he went into the mercantile business with a Major Young. On August 6, 1872, he represented Fannin County at the Second Congressional District's Democratic convention held at McKinney, and in 1873, in what the Dallas Herald (see DALLAS TIMES HERALD) referred to as "one of those accidents that sometimes characterize nominating conventions," he was nominated as the Democratic candidate for Texas state treasurer "solely because he lived in north Texas." Although he was "an unknown man in Texas outside of two or three counties," Dorn was elected on Richard Coke's ticket, an apparent sectional concession to North Texas. When Dorn appointed his son, Thomas Jefferson Dorn, as chief clerk of the treasury, the Herald, which had supported his nomination and election, attacked him editorially on May 16, 1874, for nepotism, "one of the most odious of all political abuses." Although the paper retracted its attack on May 30, it came back with even stronger charges on June 13, accusing Dorn of "immodesty and violation of those delicate rules of propriety which should control all public officials" for putting out of office a poor old man with a family to make a place for his young and single son, a citizen of Nevada. The fault was compounded in the Herald's sight, because Dorn had a second son who was a clerk in the General Land Office. Nevertheless, Dorn was reelected in February 1876, with the Herald's endorsement, by a three-to-one majority. He remained in office until April 18, 1879.
Afterward he was unemployed and in 1883 went to Washington, D.C., seeking Maxey's aid in finding a government appointment. "He is the most helpless man I know," wrote Maxey of Dorn, "yet he is an honorable, good man but a fearfully and wonderfully made hanger-on for office." Dorn became one of seven applicants for one of the two assistant-doorkeeper appointments to which the Texas delegation was entitled, but when the appointments were decided by lot on January 3, 1884, he was not chosen. Unable to find a place for him, Maxey convinced Coke, then a senator, to split the cost of a train ticket back to Texas for Dorn "on the principle...that those who have done the most for him should continue in well doing." Coke and Maxey paid the fare "very cheerfully" because, Maxey wrote, it brought "the blessing of peace from the most persistent office seeker." On January 15, 1885, the destitute Dorn, with Maxey's influence, was elected on the fourth ballot as doorkeeper of the state Senate, a position he held from the Eighteenth through the Twenty-first legislatures. The Eighteenth Legislature sent Dorn to Washington to press a $700,000 claim of Texas against the federal government, but the claim was withdrawn. After his tenure as doorkeeper, Dorn remained in Austin "filling some minor positions in the state departments" until his death, on December 9, 1889.
Dorn was buried in the State Cemetery. He was survived by one child. He was a Mason and a member of the United Confederate Veteransqv, and as a member of the Veterans of the Mexican War Association he lobbied energetically for government pensions for Mexican War veterans.
Dallas Herald, August 24, 1872, May 16, 30, June 13, 1874, January 8, 1876, January 3, 1884, January 15, 1885. Francis B. Heitman, Historical Register and Dictionary of the United States Army (2 vols., Washington: GPO, 1903; rpt., Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1965). Louise Horton, Samuel Bell Maxey: A Biography (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1974). E. H. Loughery, Texas State Government (Austin: McLeod and Jackson, 1897).
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.Thomas W. Cutrer, "DORN, ANDREW JACKSON," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fdo21), accessed April 21, 2014. Uploaded on June 12, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.