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ROBERTS, SAMUEL ALEXANDER

ROBERTS, SAMUEL ALEXANDER (1809–1872). Samuel Alexander Roberts, attorney and government official of the Republic of Texas, son of Willis and Asenath (Alexander) Roberts, was born in Putnam County, Georgia, on February 13, 1809. He was raised and educated in Georgia and in Cahaba and Mobile, Alabama, and attended the United States Military Academy, where he was a classmate of Jefferson Davis. He moved to Houston, Texas, in 1837, shortly after being licensed to practice law. Roberts came to Texas on the advice of Republic of Texas vice president Mirabeau B. Lamar,qv a family friend, who during 1819 and 1820 had owned a general mercantile store in partnership with Roberts's father in Cahaba. After Lamar was elected president of the republic, Roberts received appointments to a number of government offices during the late 1830s and early 1840s. Lamar appointed Roberts notary public of Harrisburg County on January 23, 1839, secretary of the Texas legation to the United States in March 1839, acting secretary of state on May 25, 1841, and secretary of state on September 7, 1841.

On April 8, 1842, Roberts married Lucinda Mary Reed. The couple moved to Bonham, where Roberts entered a law partnership with James W. Throckmorton, a future governor of Texas, and Thomas J. Brown. Roberts accrued real estate valued at $3,000 and three slaves by 1850. His house, called Three Groves, constructed of planed lumber hauled from Jefferson, was recognized as a showplace. Roberts was a Whig and served as a delegate to both the state and national party conventions in 1852. As the issue of slavery increasingly divided the nation after 1850 and opposition to abolitionist ideas and the fear of abolitionist-inspired slave revolt spread in Texas and the South (see SLAVE INSURRECTIONS), Roberts gained some local notoriety as a defender of the "peculiar institution." In March 1859 he spoke at a proslavery town meeting in Bonham and served on a three-man local committee that drafted resolutions ordering ministers associated with the Methodist Episcopal Church, which was suspect as a result of the abolitionist statements of some northern Methodist Episcopal ministers, to cease any antislavery preaching or activity. During the Civil War the training camp for Confederate soldiers at Bonham was named in Roberts's honor. His family included four children, a stepson, and two foster daughters. Roberts died in Bonham on August 18, 1872.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Randolph B. Campbell, "The Whig Party of Texas in the Elections of 1848 and 1852," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 73 (July 1969). Philip Graham, The Life and Poems of Mirabeau B. Lamar (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1938). Floy Crandall Hodge, A History of Fannin County (Hereford, Texas: Pioneer, 1966). Wesley Norton, "The Methodist Episcopal Church and the Civil Disturbances in North Texas in 1859 and 1860," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 68 (January 1965). Amelia W. Williams and Eugene C. Barker, eds., The Writings of Sam Houston, 1813–1863 (8 vols., Austin: University of Texas Press, 1938–43; rpt., Austin and New York: Pemberton Press, 1970).

Brian Hart

Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Brian Hart, "ROBERTS, SAMUEL ALEXANDER," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fro19), accessed October 30, 2014. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.