Miller, James B. (ca. 1801–1854)

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: May 13, 2022

James B. Miller, early Texas physician and public official, was a native of Kentucky, probably born about 1801. He moved to Texas in 1829 and settled at San Felipe, where he practiced medicine with Dr. Robert Peebles. Miller represented the Fort Bend area in the Convention of 1833 and was one of the three commissioners designated to carry the petitions of that convention to Mexico. He remained in Texas, however, to treat victims of a cholera epidemic (see EPIDEMIC DISEASES). In 1834 he was a member of the legislature of Coahuila and Texas, which established the Department of the Brazos and made him its political chief. In that capacity, on July 2, 1835, he allocated $200 to maintain friendly relations with the northern Indians. On June 22, 1835, he joined others pledging to offer armed resistance to the Mexican customs officials in Anahuac. By July 16, however, Miller wrote Domingo de Ugartechea, military commandant of Coahuila and Texas, about his role in the Anahuac Disturbances, assuring him that he had "taken the most prompt and energetic measures to put down the excitement"; he wrote, "[I] am happy to inform you that this department is perfectly tranquil, and I pledge myself that it shall remain so." The next day he wrote the Mexican general again, protesting that the attack on Anahuac was not supported by a majority of the people and promising to dispatch a commission to San Antonio de Béxar to settle the misunderstanding.

About that time Miller learned that Gen. Martín Perfecto de Cos had issued arrest warrants for William B. Travis and Robert M. Williamson for their part in the disturbances. Miller, as political chief, was expected to issue the warrants but was unwilling to have friends arrested for activities that he had himself encouraged. Troubled with "nervous prostration," he left San Felipe bound for his Fort Bend plantation, where he sought advice from his friend Wyly Martin. Martin urged Miller to obey the law and issue the warrants, but Miller could bring himself neither to do so nor to refuse. Finally on July 19, 1835, he wrote Martin his resignation as political chief, ostensibly because his health prevented him from discharging the duties of his office. He prevailed upon Martin to act in his place while he took an extended leave in the hill country above Bastrop. Upon his return Miller became an active member of the "peace party," which considered a declaration of independence premature. Even so, when the battle of Gonzales ended any chance of reconciliation, he served under Stephen F. Austin in October 1835, aided in the organization of the Texas army, and, once it was adopted, supported the Texas Declaration of Independence.

Miller was a senator in the Fifth Congress of the republic, 1840–41. He was a secretary of the treasury under Sam Houston in 1843 as well as chief justice of Fort Bend County. He was a delegate to the Convention of 1845 but was defeated as candidate for governor in 1845 and 1847. In 1851 he was appointed one of the commissioners to investigate fraudulent land titles west of the Nueces River. Throughout his political career he continued his medical practice and was well-known as a physician. He died in 1854.

John H. Jenkins, ed., The Papers of the Texas Revolution, 1835–1836 (10 vols., Austin: Presidial Press, 1973). Pat Ireland Nixon, The Medical Story of Early Texas, 1528–1853 (Lancaster, Pennsylvania: Lupe Memorial Fund, 1946). Texas House of Representatives, Biographical Directory of the Texan Conventions and Congresses, 1832–1845 (Austin: Book Exchange, 1941). Clarence Wharton, Wharton's History of Fort Bend County (San Antonio: Naylor, 1939). Gifford E. White, 1830 Citizens of Texas (Austin: Eakin, 1983).

  • Agriculture
  • Plantation Owners
  • Health and Medicine
  • Physicians and Surgeons
  • Law, Law Enforcement, and Outlaws
  • Military
  • Politics and Government
  • Government Officials
Time Periods:
  • Mexican Texas
  • Texas Revolution
  • Republic of Texas
  • Antebellum Texas
  • East Texas
  • Southeast Texas

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

Anonymous, “Miller, James B.,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed August 11, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

May 13, 2022

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