Kingsland Lodge # 1424
2009 Mirabeau B. Lamar Medals & Scholarships
Lamar Medals & Scholarship Awards
 
Mirabeau Buonaparte Lamar
"The Father of Public Education in Texas"
A History
 
Mirabeau Buonaparte Lamar, member of Harmony Lodge No. 6, was born on his father's plantation in Georgia on August 16, 1798. In early life, he  became an expert horseman and a proficient fencer. Although he briefly attended private academies, he rebelled against the routine of formal schooling and pursued a course of self education. He became an insatiable reader, a gifted speaker, a skilled writer, a talented artist, a student of ancient history,  and knowledgeable of the liberal arts and sciences.
A descendant of French Huguenots who fled Europe to escape persecutions, Lamar developed a keen craving for individual freedoms and a growing dis-trust of expanding federal powers. For a time, he published a newspaper that printed poetry which he had written and expressed his strong feelings for states' rights.
In 1829, Lamar was elected to a term in the Georgia Senate. Sorrow over the death of his wife caused him to withdraw as a candidate for reelection in 1830. In 1832, he was defeated as a states' rights candidate for the U.S. Senate; in 1833, he was admitted to the Georgia bar; and in 1834, he was, again, defeated as a states' rights candidate for the U.S. Senate. Unhappy over political defeat and despondent over the deaths of his father, a sister, and a brother, Lamar moved to Texas in 1835. He immediately declared for Texas Independence and returned to Georgia to settle personal affairs.

While in Georgia, he learned of the fall of the Alamo and the defeat of Goliad. He rushed back to Texas and joined the Texas army as a private. In a skirmish with the Mexican force on April 20, Lamar saved the lives of Thomas J. Rusk and Walter P. Lane. He was commissioned a colonel on the battlefield and assigned a cavalry to command during the Battle of San Jacinto.
Shortly after San Jacinto, Lamar was appointed Secretary of War for the interim government of Texas. In 1836, Lamar became the first elected Vice-President of the Republic. And, on December 19, 1838, he was inaugurated as the second President of the Texas nation.
In his first address to Congress, President Lamar called for an appropriation of land to support public schools. At his urging, Congress passed the act on January 26, 1839, which set aside land for public schools and two universities. Although many years passed before a public school system was established, Lamar's vision earned him the title "Father of Education in Texas." And his statement, "the cultivated mind is the guardian genius" was adopted as the motto for the University of Texas.
Although his Masonic voice still echoes "public education," his strong stance for human liberty and states' rights adds that he meant public  education under local school board control.