An annual ceremony honoring Mirabeau B. Lamar, Texas soldier and statesman whose final years were spent in Fort Bend County, will be conducted on Thursday, Jan. 26, at Lamar's grave in Richmond's historic Morton Cemetery.
This will mark the seventh consecutive year for the salute known as Lamar Day. It will be conducted jointly by the Sons of the Republic of Texas, the Daughters of the Republic of Texas and the Fort Bend County Historical Commission.
Focus for the 2017 observance is on Lamar's legacy as a writer and poet, and students from Calvary Episcopal Preparatory will read selected poems penned by the man who served as the second president of the Republic of Texas.
The public is invited to the ceremony, which starts at 10:30 a.m. In addition to the poetry recitations, a group of re-enactors forming the Texas Army will present colors and later conduct a black-powder salute. Lamar commanded cavalry at the decisive Battle of San Jacinto that led to Texas independence from Mexico.
"On this very day, 178 years ago," said SRT Past State President Thomas Green about the date chosen for the ceremony, "President Lamar signed an act of the Texas Congress reserving three leagues of land in each county to be used to pay for a public school system in Texas.
"Even though it was years before public schools came into being in Texas, President Lamar is remembered as the 'Father of Texas Education.'
In addition, Green said, Lamar saw to the reservation of 50 leagues of land for two state-supported colleges in Texas, which continue to benefit both the University of Texas and Texas A&M University. Green added that one of Lamar's best-known phrases, “A cultivated mind is the guardian genius of democracy,” is the motto of the University of Texas.
Green noted that on Jan. 25, 1839, Lamar signed an act making what is now the state flag of Texas the final flag of the Republic of Texas, Four days later, he signed the first homestead act in the world. The homestead act, Green explained, "keeps the home place from being taken from the widow by the mortgage company when the husband dies.
"This was a monumental week in Texas history, with three important bills being signed in a five-day period, which continues to affect our lives today."
Born in Georgia in 1798, Lamar first earned fame in Texas as the cavalry commander of the Texas revolutionary army at the pivotal Battle of San Jacinto. Following a series of appointments within the new Republic of Texas government, he was elected its first vice president in 1836 and second president two years later.
Lamar died at his plantation home in Richmond on Dec. 19, 1859.