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time the diary ends, April 8, 1837, until his final return to Virginia in August of 1838 focused on efforts to advance his economic fortunes.  He pursued four interrelated opportunities.  First, he continued to represent the interests of his client Thomas Green, who along with Gray had purchased Texas bonds in New Orleans during the desperate winter of 1835-36.  These carried certain privileges of priority in locating land claims that put the partners in competition with the powerful Michael B. Menard faction for developing the port city of Galveston.  Second, Gray sought to validate and locate his own land investments as well as to make new purchases.  Third, he attempted to develop a law practice around his experience as a land broker. 

Gray also sought to enhance his political connections.  Clearly, he had been flattered by earlier suggestions, recorded in the diary, that he had a political future in Texas.  In any case, close ties with the government promised to pay dividends for the other endeavors.  Further, the salary of a government position would help support him while he looked after his other interests.  Beginning on May 4, 1837, Gray served as chief clerk of the House of Representatives for the Congress of Texas until September 26 of that year.  During that time he also received an appointment as clerk of the Texas Supreme Court.  This position, as historian Andrew Forest Muir wrote, had "few duties" but yielded "few fees."  Gray attempted to make the right friends.  He attended the initial meeting of the Philosophical Society of Texas on December 5, 1837, and became recording secretary, one of ten officers.  Though formally "scientific and literary in its character," that organization met "at the seat of government" and had among its leaders Mirabeau B. Lamar, Henry Smith, and David G. Burnet.[21]

His political career did not prosper.  Apparently, he retired involuntarily from the House clerk position, which paid $6 per annum.  He ran for alderman for the new government of the city of Houston in 1837 but failed to be elected, a pattern that repeated when he announced for that office again in 1840 and 1841.  His only other success in 1837-38 was appointment as secretary of the Texas Senate from April 9 to May 24, 1838.[22]  His political misfortune most likely resulted from several personal liabilities.  Gray's aristocratic temperament probably did not endear him in the rough and tumble Texas frontier society.  Further, his aggressive representation of the land interests of Texas creditors, while understandable and not without basis in justice or law, made him suspect in an environment sensitive to the evils of wealthy speculators.  Finally, Gray's conduct during the war cannot have won him popular favor at a time when heroic credentials had become a virtual prerequisite for political advancement.  His son defended the decision to leave Texas during the perilous spring of 1836 as fulfillment of duty to his employers and his family.[23]  While this behavior did not make Gray exceptional -- many more Texans fled the scene of military action


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The Diary of William Fairfax Gray, from Virginia to Texas, 1835-1837
Copyright 1997 William P. Clements Center for Southwest Studies
Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas