Henry Green Madison, the first African-American city councilman in Austin, Texas, son of Emanuel and Elizabeth Madison, was born in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1843. A freedman, he had come to Texas and had married Louisa Green of Texas by the early 1860s. Census records indicate that they had up to nine children, but apparently not all survived to adulthood. Arriving in Austin, Madison built a small cabin on present day East 11th Street in 1863 and began operating a shoemaking business.
During the Civil War Madison was an ardent Unionist, and in 1867 he was president of a local Austin chapter of the Union League also known as the Loyal League. He was an active participant in the Reconstruction process and was appointed as an assistant at the Constitutional Convention of 1868–69. In 1870 he served as a captain of an all-black unit in the Sixth Regiment of the Texas State Guard.
On February 1, 1871, Governor Edmund J. Davis appointed Madison to the position of city alderman, an office he held until November 28, 1872. During that time he was also appointed to act as one of twelve members of the Travis County Executive Committee, a temporary governing body. While on the city council, Madison served on the committees for streets and cemeteries. He also introduced ordinances pertaining to the city water supply, voted to ban lotteries within the city limits, and voted to raise the salaries of the city police and the city attorney. Additionally, in 1871 he volunteered to serve as a registrar of voters in Travis County, which was a very dangerous assignment for a black man in Reconstruction-era Texas.
During the 1880s, he served the city of Austin as a policeman. Afterwards, he became a porter; first in a major bank, and later, in the Texas House of Representatives. Madison died in Austin on May 31, 1912, due to sclerosis, and was buried in the historic Oakwood Cemetery. In 1968 a demolition crew rediscovered the original Madison family cabin, around which Madison had built a larger house. The cabin was donated to the city, and in 1973 it was disassembled and later reassembled in Rosewood Park in East Austin. The Madison cabin received a Texas Historical Marker in 1974.
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Adjutant General’s Records, Texas State Library and Archives, Austin, Company B, 6th Regiment, Folder 10, Box 401-727; State Guard Military Rolls; Reconstruction Military Rolls; Military Rolls. Austin City Council Meeting Archives, (www.austintexas.gov/department/city-council/archive/city_council_meeting_archives.htm), accessed August 9, 2012. Henry G. Madison File, Box 2-9/855, Bonds and Oaths of County and State Officials, 1846–1920, Texas Secretary of State, Texas State Library and Archives, Austin. Historical Marker Files, Texas Historical Commission, Austin.
Law, Law Enforcement, and Outlaws
Politics and Government
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
R. Matt Abigail,
“Madison, Henry Green,”
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed July 07, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Original Publication Date:
May 15, 2013
This entry belongs to the following Handbook Special Projects: