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Early female land promoter and diplomat goes down with the ship


On this day in 1878, Jane Cazneau, author, land promoter, and perhaps the first unofficial woman diplomat for the United States, died when the steamer Emily B. Souder, bound from New York to Santo Domingo, sank. The adventuress, born in New York in 1807, first investigated Texas in 1832 when she sought opportunities to resettle her parents and contract to bring families to Austin’s colonies. Between 1832 and 1849 she made nine trips to Texas. Though she may have received a sizable land grant from Mexico, she ultimately lacked the financial muscle to settle immigrants inland from Matagorda. Nevertheless, she speculated in Texas land and later contributed money and arms to the Texas cause for independence. Her New York Sun columns supported Texas annexation, and she wrote Texas and Her President, With a Glance at Her Climate and Agricultural Capabilities in 1845. She married Texas entrepreneur William Leslie Cazneau and lived in Eagle Pass; she later recorded her experiences there in Eagle Pass; or Life on the Border. During the Mexican War, Cazneau played an unofficial role in Sun editor Moses Yale Beech’s unsuccessful secret peace mission to Mexico City, and at that time she became the only female war correspondent and American journalist to report from behind enemy lines. She and her husband later advocated U.S. annexation of Cuba and the Dominican Republic, where they had extensive land holdings.

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