History of The Texas Secretary of States Office

Stephen F. Austin, commonly referred to as the father of Texas, served as Texas Secretary of State in 1836.

After attending school in Connecticut and Kentucky, Austin returned to his family in Missouri. In 1821, Austin traveled to San Antonio to recruit United States citizens to settle in Texas. Austin negotiated with federal officials in Mexico, to which Texas then belonged, to acquire large grants of land. During the next 15 years, Austin brought thousands of settlers from around the United States to Texas. He also created many early maps of the area and remained devoted to the development of the land now known as Texas.

After Texas won independence from Mexico in 1836, the newly elected President of the Texas Republic, Sam Houston, appointed Austin Secretary of State. Austin served as Secretary of State for only three months. He died of pneumonia while in office in December 1836 at the age of 43.

Stephen F. Austin wrote in July, 1836: “The prosperity of Texas has been the object of my labors, the idol of my existence, it has assumed the character of religion, for the guidance of my thoughts and actions, for fifteen years.”

Shortest Term

George Clark, confederate soldier and attorney, served as Secretary of State for only 10 days in 1874. A friend and supporter of then Governor Richard Coke, Clark served as Secretary of State until the arrival of the regular appointee. Clark was then appointed Texas Attorney General a few days later.

Longest Term

Jane Y. McCallum, prominent writer and prohibition leader, served as Secretary of State for six years. Governor Daniel J. Moody appointed her in January 1927, and she retained the position under the next Governor, Ross Sterling, until 1933. She later became an important figure in the women’s suffrage movement in Texas.

First Woman Secretary of State

Emma C. Meharg was appointed Secretary of State in 1925 by Governor Miriam A. “Ma” Ferguson, Texas’ first female Governor. Meharg served until January 1927.

Loyal Texas Public Servant

James Webb served as Secretary of State of both the Republic of Texas under President Mirabeau B. Lamar and of the State of Texas under Governor Peter Bell. In addition, he served as Secretary of the Treasury and Attorney General of the Republic. He later became the first judge of the Fourteenth Judicial District of Texas, which included Corpus Christi. Webb County, in Southwest Texas, was named in his honor.

International Diplomat

Edward Aubrey Clark was appointed Secretary of State by Governor James Allred in January 1937 when Clark was only 30 years old. He served until January 1939. After leaving state government, he served as a mentor and advisor to three generations of political leaders, including Lyndon Baines Johnson. In 1965 President Johnson appointed Clark to be United States Ambassador to Australia.

Tony Garza was appointed Secretary of State by Governor George W. Bush in 1995. He served as Secretary of State until December 1997. Garza was then elected to the Texas Railroad Commission in 1998, serving from January 1999 through November 2002. President George W. Bush appointed Garza to the post of U.S. Ambassador to Mexico, and Ambassador Garza presented his credentials to Mexico’s President Vicente Fox on November 22, 2002.

Grandfather of a U.S. President

Joseph Wilson Baines served as Secretary of State under Governor John Ireland from January 1883 to January 1887. As Secretary of State, Baines helped oversee construction of the Capitol building. In 1869, he married Ruth Huffman. Their daughter, Rebekah Baines Johnson, was the mother of Lyndon Baines Johnson, the 36th President of the United States.