Thomas Jones Hardeman, soldier, pioneer Texas settler, judge, and politician, child of Thomas and Mary (Perkins) Hardeman, was born at Hardeman's Stockade near Nashville, Tennessee, on January 31, 1788. His father represented back-country North Carolina at the convention that ratified the United States Constitution and with his close friend Andrew Jackson was a delegate at the Tennessee State Constitutional Convention. Hardeman moved with his family to Williamson County, Tennessee, in 1803. In 1814 he married Mary Ophelia Polk, the aunt of James K. Polk. Later that year, as a captain, Hardeman fought under General Jackson in the closing campaign of the War of 1812 at New Orleans. He was captured by the British and wounded in the head by a sabre for refusing to divulge military secrets to the enemy.
In 1818 applying his legal training, he helped to settle and organize Hardeman County, Tennessee. His wife died there in 1835. In the same year, accompanied by his brothers Blackstone and Bailey Hardeman, he moved to Texas, where he and his four sons became involved in the move for Texas independence. Hardeman, a devout Episcopalian and an active Mason, served in the Congress of the Republic of Texas from Matagorda County in 1837–39 and spent two terms in the state legislature from Bastrop and Travis counties, from 1847 to 1851. In the 1840s he served both as associate and chief justice of Bastrop County. At his suggestion the capital of Texas was named Austin.
Hardeman's second wife was a widow, Eliza DeWitt Hamilton, daughter of empresario Green DeWitt. Hardeman had five children by his first wife and three by the second. The four sons of his first marriage, Thomas Monroe Hardeman, William Polk Hardeman, Owen Bailey Hardeman, and Leonidas Polk Hardeman, were all venturesome types. They participated in scores of military campaigns of the Texas Revolution, the Mexican War, Indian wars, and the Civil War.
Hardeman died on January 15, 1854, and was buried in Bastrop County. In 1937 his remains were removed to the State Cemetery in Austin. Hardeman County, Texas, was named partly in his honor.