Treat, James (1792–1840)

By: Joseph Schmitz

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: December 13, 2019

James Treat, diplomatic agent of the Republic of Texas, was born to John and Prudence Treat in Connecticut on February 17, 1792. He married Mary Bennet Fortune in 1820 and the couple had three children. He labored industriously during 1839 and 1840 in Mexico City to secure the recognition of the independence of Texas. The reasons for Treat's interest in Texas and his activities for the Texas cause are not altogether clear; but as early as 1836, along with Samuel Swartwout and other New York real estate adventurers, he was actively but unsuccessfully interested in the annexation of Texas. That Mexico should accept a formal peace treaty and recognize the independence of Texas was important to this group; that James Treat might bring it about was believed altogether probable. His long residence in Central America and Mexico qualified him for the diplomatic task at hand. His experience and intimate acquaintance with the public officials in Mexico convinced him that they would never propose the unpopular Texas question to their Congress, or vote it through, unless they gained some private profit for doing so. Treat believed that by using his personal influence for recognition he might succeed where others had failed. It was this consideration that prompted President Mirabeau B. Lamar to appoint him special agent. Arriving in Mexico City on December 11, 1839, Treat at once began the activities which led him through devious paths beset with hopes and disappointments. Promises and delays dragged out the negotiations for the greater part of a year, only to end in complete failure in October 1840 when Mexico rejected the Texas propositions for peace. By this time Treat's health, which had never been good, was seriously impaired by the ravages of consumption, and he set out for Texas. He died at sea on November 4, 1840, while traveling from Vera Cruz to Galveston on board the schooner of war, San Antonio. A tombstone was erected in the Village Cemetery in Wethersfield, Connecticut, to the memory of "James Treat, died November 30, 1840. Buried in Galveston, Texas."

Robert Emmet Cunningham, James Treat and His Mission to Mexico (M.A. thesis, University of Texas, 1950). Diplomatic Correspondence of the Republic of Texas, ed. George Pierce Garrison (3 parts, Washington: GPO, 1908–11). James Morgan Papers, Rosenberg Library, Galveston. Joseph William Schmitz, Texan Statecraft, 1836–1845 (San Antonio: Naylor, 1941). J. L. Worley, β€œThe Diplomatic Relations of England and the Republic of Texas,” Southwestern Historical Quarterly 11 (July 1905).

Time Periods:
  • Republic of Texas

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

Joseph Schmitz, “Treat, James,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed August 10, 2022,

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December 13, 2019