David Spangler Kaufman, lawyer, Indian fighter, and politician, son of Daniel Kaufman, was born in Boiling Springs, Pennsylvania, on December 18, 1813. After graduating with high honors from Princeton College in 1830, he studied law under Gen. John A. Quitman in Natchez, Mississippi, and was admitted to the bar. He began his legal career in Natchitoches, Louisiana, in 1835. Two years later he settled in Nacogdoches, Texas, where he practiced law and participated in military campaigns against the Cherokee Indians. He was wounded in the encounter in which Chief Bowl lost his life in 1839. Kaufman occupied a number of important positions in the republic and state of Texas. Between 1838 and 1841 he represented Nacogdoches County in the House of the Third Congress of the republic; he served as speaker in the Fourth and Fifth congresses. From December 1843 through June 1845 he represented Shelby, Sabine, and Harrison counties in the Senate of the republic. Texas president Anson Jones named him chargé d'affaires to the United States in February 1845. After annexation Kaufman represented the Eastern District of Texas in the United States House of Representatives during the Twenty-ninth, Thirtieth, and Thirty-first congresses. While in Congress, Kaufman argued unsuccessfully that Texas owned lands that are now parts of New Mexico, Colorado, Kansas, Wyoming, and Oklahoma. He encouraged Governor Peter H. Bell to have Texas troops seize Santa Fe. He also played a role in the Compromise of 1850, whereby the national government assumed the debts of Texas. No other Jewish Texan served in Congress until the 1970s. Kaufman was a Mason and a charter member of the Philosophical Society of Texas. He married Jane Baxter Richardson, daughter of Daniel Long Richardson, on April 21, 1841. The couple had three sons and a daughter. Kaufman died in Washington, D.C., on January 31, 1851, and was buried in the Congressional Cemetery there. In 1932 his remains were moved to the State Cemetery in Austin. Kaufman County and the city of Kaufman are named for him.
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George L. Crocket, Two Centuries in East Texas (Dallas: Southwest, 1932; facsimile reprod., 1962). Natalie Ornish, Pioneer Jewish Texans (Dallas: Texas Heritage, 1989). Texas House of Representatives, Biographical Directory of the Texan Conventions and Congresses, 1832–1845 (Austin: Book Exchange, 1941). Dudley Goodall Wooten, ed., A Comprehensive History of Texas (2 vols., Dallas: Scarff, 1898; rpt., Austin: Texas State Historical Association, 1986).
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Republic of Texas
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
“Kaufman, David Spangler,”
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed June 25, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
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