Birthday: October 8, 1818
Died At Age: 86
Sun Sign: Libra
Born in: Sevierville, Tennessee, U.S.
Famous as: Former United States Senator from Texas
political ideology: Democratic Party
Spouse/Ex-: Edwina Moss Nelms Reagan
father: Timothy Richard
mother: Elizabeth (Lusk) Reagan
Died on: March 6, 1905
place of death: Palestine, Texas, U.S.
U.S. State: Tennessee
Founder/Co-Founder: Texas State Historical Association
Who was John Henninger Reagan?
John H. Reagan was an able Texas statesman who was compared to Cincinnatus, the Roman hero of yesteryears. Hailing from a family of farmers and small traders living in Tennessee, he rose to the position of a U.S. Congressman representing the Democratic Party. Undaunted by the financial hardships and family responsibility that fell on his shoulders, he continued his education taking all kinds of honest jobs to earn money. He migrated to Texas, the newly formed state in search of opportunities for growth. He took part in the struggle for Texas Independence and actively involved in the war against the Cherokee Indians - this gained him popularity in the public arena. He studied law and worked as a surveyor for some time. Later he practised law and was elected as the District Judge of Texas. He joined the Democratic Party and won a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives on behalf of the state of Texas. He was a close associate of President Jefferson Davis who made him the Postmaster General of the Confederacy, a post that gave him an opportunity to bring out renaissance in the mail delivery system. The economy of Texas witnessed a new growth by the efficient mail delivery system implemented by him. He also co-authored the bill of U.S. Interstate Commerce Commission.
Childhood & Early Life
John Henninger Reagan was born on October 8, 1818 in Sevier County, Tennessee, as the eldest son of Timothy Richard and Elizabeth Reagan, who made their living by trading and farming. He had four brothers and one sister.
While he was 13, his mother died. He was thrust with the responsibility of taking care of his brothers and sister.
To support his family and to meet out his schooling expenses, he worked as a planter, tanner, supervisor and as a salesman. Simultaneously, he continued his law studies.
While he was 20, he moved to Texas with the hope of finding more employment opportunities. His search did not go in vain as his study of law gained him an entry to the bar.
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In 1839, he moved to Texas and joined the army of Republic. He took part in the Cherokee War in which Chief Bowl, the leader of the Indians was killed and the Indians overthrown.
After the war, he worked as the deputy surveyor of public lands near Nacogdoches until 1843. Later, he became the justice of the peace and captain of a militia company in Nacogdoches.
He continued to study law and in 1846 after obtaining a temporary license, and started his office at Buffalo. Two years later, he gained admission to the bar and practised both in Palestine and Buffalo.
In 1847, he became a member of the Texas House of Representatives. Five years later he became the first judge of the Henderson County - the term extended for five years.
In 1857 he became the United States congressman representing the Democratic Party of the Eastern Texas. He later joined the secessionist and was elected to Secession Convention of Texas.
In 1861, President Jefferson Davis made him the Postmaster General of the Confederacy. Reagan wielded his ability and brought out remarkable improvement in the U.S. economy through improvised and diligent postal service.
When the Civil War came to an end, he was imprisoned in Fort Warren in Boston. He was detained in solitary captivity for 22 weeks. He returned home to Palestine in December 1865.
He resumed his career as a lawyer and also got involved in restructuring the politics of the State of Texas. In 1875, he was elected to the State's Constitutional Convention.
He contested for his earlier position as the U.S. House of Representative. He was elected as a Democratic Representative and continued in the position for 13 years.
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In 1887, he contested for the U.S. Senate and won it. He also held the office as the Chairman of the Committee on Commerce and remained in the position for four years.
In 1891 he resigned his post and returned to his hometown. He accepted the offer from the Governor of Texas and became the Director of the Texas Railroad Commission.
In 1897 he was appointed as the Chairman of Texas Railroad Commission and served for six years. During this time, he also helped in the formation of Texas State Historical Association.
In 1903, after completing his tenure, he retired from politics. He spent his time in completing his “Memoirs,” that was published two years later.
A pneumonia attack took his life at the age of 85. He was buried in the East Hill Cemetery in his hometown Palestine, Texas.
Awards & Achievements
In 1861, he was appointed as the Postmaster General of Confederacy. Reagan made remarkable achievements in the economy of the States by implementing revision in the postal rate and improvising the mail delivery system.
In 1875, he became a member of the Constitutional body of the Texas State. The same year he won a seat to the U.S. House of Representatives and retained the position for 13 years.
Personal Life & Legacy
He married three times in his life. He married Martha Music in 1844 and she died the following year. Seven years later, he married Edwina Moss Nelms with whom he had six children.
He married Molly Ford Taylor in 1866 three years after the death of his second wife. Through this marriage, he had five children, two of whom died before his death.
The Reagan County in Texas is named after him. Schools in Texas State like John H. Reagan Elementary School in Dallas and Reagan High Schools in Austin and Houston are named in his honor.
A statue of Reagan is commemorated in the University of Texas at Austin. The Texas State Capitol holds John H. Reagan State Office Building at its premises.
This renowned American politician of the nineteenth century started his career as a surveyor. During his career, Colonel Robert Porter assigned him the task of surveying and mapping out the city of Porter's Bluff.
This American Congressman was a long-time friend of President Jefferson Davis. His funeral was attended by the whole State Legislature of Texas.