MIRABEAU BUONAPARTE LAMAR
Lamar came to Texas as a volunteer, joining Houston's army
while it was encamped at Groce's plantation. On April 20, 1836, he was
a private in the cavalry but distinguished himself in the battle that took
place that day. On April 21, he was leader of the cavalry with the title
of colonel. A few weeks later he was secretary of war in David Burnet's
cabinet -- the first in the sovereign state of Texas. In October 1836,
he was vice president of the Republic of Texas, and in December 1838, he
was elected president.
M.B.Lamar advocated large expenditures for public education. He
was deeply interested in the public school system. No money was available
for the immediate organization of schools, but he urged congress to set
aside lands for the future use of the system. Congress responded in 1839
with an act setting aside three leagues of land in each county for the
support of an academy. In addition, fifty leagues were set aside as an
endowment fund for two universities. The following year an additional league
was set aside for each county to be used in equipping the schools.
Lamar's message urging the setting aside of land for the school
system contained the following often quoted statement: "It is admitted
by all that the cultivated mind is the guardian genius of democracy and
while guided and controlled by virtue, is the noblest attribute of man.
It is the only dictator that free men acknowledge and the only security
free men desire."
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