The Texas Presidencies : Presidential Leadership in the Republic of Texas, 1836-1845 Page: 50
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Texas, as well as the daunting scarcity of money, men, and resources that a sustained
military campaign demanded. Nevertheless, criticism of the government mounted as the
election of 1838 approached.80
The constitution dictated that the term of the republic's first elected president
would last only two years. Afterward, each presidential term would last three years.81 As
Houston could not run in the election of 1838 because of constitutional term limits, the
field of contention became wide open. Vice President Mirabeau B. Lamar, a bitter
opponent of Houston, tossed his hat into the ring, but the efforts of Houston's allies
proved a heartbreaking disaster.
Some citizens had mentioned Secretary of War Thomas J. Rusk as a candidate,
but the secretary refused. The Houston forces remained torn between the chief justice of
the Supreme Court, James Collinsworth, who had distinguished himself at the Battle of
San Jacinto, and Colonel Peter W. Grayson, the attorney general. Tragically, in July,
Collinsworth killed himself. Apparently, his health and mind had been undermined by
alcohol, and he jumped from a steamer into Galveston Bay.82 At the time, the other
Houston candidate. Colonel Grayson, served as a commissioner in the United States.
The shock of Col I ins worth's death had not worn off when news reached Texas that
Telegraph and Texas Register. August 18, 1838.
81 Article III, Section 2, Constitution of the Republic of Texas (Washington, TX:
Gales and Seaton, 1836), 12.
82 Herbert Gambrell, Mirabeau Buonaparte Lamar: Troubadour and Crusader
(Dallas, Southwest Press, 1934), 188.
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Bridges, Kenneth William. The Texas Presidencies : Presidential Leadership in the Republic of Texas, 1836-1845, thesis, May 1998; Denton, Texas. (https://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc278112/m1/54/: accessed October 14, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, https://digital.library.unt.edu; .