Sexton, Franklin Barlow (1828–1900)

By: Thomas W. Cutrer

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: June 1, 1995

Franklin Barlow Sexton, Confederate legislator, was born in New Harmony, Indiana, on April 29, 1828, the son of Dr. Samuel and Emily Hughes (Davis) Sexton. In 1831 his family moved to San Augustine County, Texas, where he graduated from Wesleyan College in 1846. After serving an apprenticeship as a printer's devil, Sexton read law in the offices of Oran M. Roberts and James Pinckney Henderson and, by a special legislative act allowing him to practice law before his twenty-first birthday, was admitted to the bar in 1848. He established a thriving practice in San Augustine. He was also a prosperous planter. Sexton was elected as a Democrat to the Texas legislature in the 1850s and to the state Senate in 1861. On August 10, 1852, he married Eliza Richardson, the daughter of Daniel L. Richardson; the couple had twelve children, including a daughter, Loulie, who married Harry F. Estill. In 1860 Sexton was president of the state Democratic convention.

With the outbreak of the Civil War Sexton, a secessionist, served for a time in the Confederate Army before being elected to the Texas Senate. He did not return from the army in time to take his seat, however. On November 6, 1862, he was chosen to represent the Fourth Congressional District in the first Confederate House of Representatives. At Richmond he served on the Commerce, War Tax, Quartermaster's and Commissary Departments, and Military Transportation committees. Sexton was considered a supporter of the Jefferson Davis administration but, in common with most westerners in the Confederacy, thought that Richmond regarded his region as merely "a field from which to draw beef and common soldiers." He opposed the tax in kind on agricultural products and the removal of slaves from agricultural pursuits for any purpose. Although he favored conscription, he protested the relocation of Texas defense forces beyond the Mississippi. He was reelected on August 3, 1863, and thus became one of only two Texans to be elected to both terms of the Confederate Congress. In the Second Congress he was a member of the Ways and Means, Joint, and Post Office and Post Roads committees. In the last he was effective in keeping the mail flowing to and from Texas Confederate soldiers serving in the East. As a curb on the South's runaway inflation, he favored increased taxation. He was reputedly one of the hardest workers and most efficient members of Congress.

After the war Sexton pursued his San Augustine practice until 1872, when he moved to Marshall. He remained active in Democratic politics and was selected as a delegate to the national Democratic convention in 1876. There he gave the address seconding the nomination of Samuel J. Tilden. After his wife died he moved to El Paso to live with a daughter. There he was appointed a judge on the state Supreme Court and served as a United States commissioner. Sexton died in El Paso on May 15, 1900, and is buried in Marshall. He was a Methodist and a Mason and was chosen grand commander of the Knights Templar of Texas in 1870. His Civil War diary was published in the Southwestern Historical Quarterly in 1935.

Mary Sexton Estill, ed., "Diary of a Confederate Congressman," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 38, 39 (April, July 1935). Jon L. Wakelyn, Biographical Dictionary of the Confederacy (Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood, 1977). Ezra J. Warner and W. Buck Yearns, Biographical Register of the Confederate Congress (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1975).

Time Periods:

  • Civil War

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

Thomas W. Cutrer, “Sexton, Franklin Barlow,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed October 17, 2021,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

June 1, 1995

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