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Watrous, Benjamin O. (ca. 1831–unknown)

Paul M. Lucko Biography

Benjamin O. Watrous, minister and delegate to the Constitutional Convention of 1868–69, was born in McMinn County, Tennessee, about 1831. He was known as Ben Carter while a young slave but took the name Watrous after his new owner, Daniel Watrous, of Alabama. He was a wheelwright by trade. Watrous had lived in Texas for twelve years before Washington County voters chose him as a delegate to the constitutional convention, where he served on the Committee on State Affairs. He introduced resolutions requiring a belief in God as a qualification for public office and prohibiting exclusion from office on the basis of race. Watrous voted against a proposal to divide Texas into more than one state and was one of five black delegates to sign the Constitution of 1869. He also served as a member of the state central committee of the Republican party in 1868; he was defeated by Matthew Gaines in 1869 when he ran for the state Senate.

J. Mason Brewer, Negro Legislators of Texas and Their Descendants (Dallas: Mathis, 1935; 2d ed., Austin: Jenkins, 1970). Harrel Budd, The Negro in Politics in Texas, 1867–1898 (M.A. thesis, University of Texas, 1925). Carl H. Moneyhon, Republicanism in Reconstruction Texas (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1980). Merline Pitre, Through Many Dangers, Toils and Snares: The Black Leadership of Texas, 1868–1900 (Austin: Eakin, 1985).


  • Peoples
  • African Americans
  • Politics and Government
  • Religion

Time Periods:

  • Reconstruction

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

Paul M. Lucko, “Watrous, Benjamin O.,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed September 26, 2020,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

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