Edwards, Benjamin W. (ca. 1780–1837)

By: Curtis Bishop

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: September 17, 2013

Benjamin Edwards, pioneer settler and leader of the Fredonian Rebellion, was probably born in Bourbon County, Kentucky (then part of Virginia), around 1780, the son of John Edwards. Around 1820 he moved to the area of Jackson, Mississippi, where he and his brother Haden Edwards acquired a plantation. In 1825 he moved to Texas to Haden's colony. In May 1826, in the midst of difficulties with Mexican authorities, Haden Edwards went to the United States to secure financial aid for his Texas enterprise, and Benjamin took over the management of the Edwards colony upon his departure.

Benjamin Edwards and vice governor Victor Blanco had an exchange of letters in which Blanco stated that Haden Edwards had lost the confidence of the government and suggested that the empresario withdraw from the country and appeal to the national government for redress. Edwards, however, thought that the government was attempting to invalidate the claim. On November 22, 1826, some forty men captured Nacogdoches, arrested the alcalde, and seized his archives. On December 16, while the Mexican authorities and troops were advancing on Nacogdoches, Benjamin Edwards and about thirty men rode into Nacogdoches and proclaimed the Republic of Fredonia, thus instituting the attempted minor revolution known as the Fredonian Rebellion. On December 21 Edwards made an agreement with Richard Fields and Dr. John Dunn Hunter by which, in return for their cooperation, the Cherokee Indians were to have the territory of Texas between the Red River and the Rio Grande west of the Old San Antonio Road, while the remainder of the territory should belong to the Republic of Fredonia. After the failure of the rebellion, Edwards retreated across the Sabine, on January 31, 1827.

During the Texas Revolution he presided at public meetings in Mississippi to raise money and men for the Texas cause. He had accepted a commission and was raising a regiment at the time of the battle of San Jacinto. In the summer of 1837 he ran for governor of Mississippi but died during the campaign.

Eugene C. Barker, ed., The Austin Papers (3 vols., Washington: GPO, 1924–28). Eugene C. Barker, The Life of Stephen F. Austin (Nashville: Cokesbury Press, 1925; rpt., Austin: Texas State Historical Association, 1949; New York: AMS Press, 1970). Robert Bruce Blake Research Collection, Steen Library, Stephen F. Austin State University; Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin; Texas State Archives, Austin; Houston Public Library, Houston. Archie P. McDonald, comp., Nacogdoches: Wilderness Outpost to Modern City, 1779–1979 (photocopy, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin).

Time Periods:
  • Mexican Texas

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

Curtis Bishop, “Edwards, Benjamin W.,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 28, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/edwards-benjamin-w.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

September 17, 2013

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