Basilio Benavides, the second of five Tejanos (see TEJANO) known to have served in the Texas House of Representatives during the nineteenth century, was born in Laredo on April 15, 1800. His family was originally from Revilla in what is now Tamaulipas, Mexico. He married Encarnación García, also of Laredo. Benavides entered public life at the age of sixteen, when he became postmaster of Laredo, a position he held until 1827. From 1827 until 1848, when Laredo experienced some of its most troublesome times, Benavides was either the mayor of the city or a military commandant. During this period he also fought on the Federalist side to establish the Republic of the Rio Grande, a brief union of Coahuila, Nuevo León, and Tamaulipas, along the Texas-Mexico border in 1840.
In December 1842, during his tenure as mayor, soldiers with the Somervell expedition, which was dispatched to avenge Mexican raids in Texas earlier that year, pillaged the city. Eight years later Laredo citizens, under Benavides's leadership, unsuccessfully sought payment for their losses from the Texas Senate. After the Mexican War Benavides, along with other Tejanos, unsuccessfully petitioned American authorities to return control of the city to Mexico.
In the 1850s he served as chief justice of Webb County and managed his family's sheep and cattle ranch. In 1859 he was elected to represent Webb County in the Texas House of Representatives for one term. As a member of the Eighth Legislature he was appointed to the Committee on Public Lands and the Committee on Joint Indian Affairs. During the Civil War Benavides, who had joined the secessionist movement in the legislature, was involved in the May 1861 battle of Carrizo in which Santos Benavides, his nephew, defeated Juan N. Cortina. Benavides died in 1863.
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Gilberto Miguel Hinojosa, A Borderlands Town in Transition: Laredo, 1755–1870 (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1983). Members of the Legislature of the State of Texas from 1846 to 1939 (Austin: Texas Legislature, 1939).
Politics and Government
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
Teresa Palomo Acosta,
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed May 24, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Original Publication Date:
November 1, 1994
This entry belongs to the following Handbook Special Projects: