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Santa Anna

RUSK, THOMAS JEFFERSON (18031857). Thomas Jefferson Rusk, soldier and statesman, the oldest of seven children of John and Mary (Sterritt) Rusk, was born in Pendleton District, South Carolina, on December 5, 1803. His father was an Irish stonemason immigrant. The family rented land from John C. Calhoun, who helped Rusk secure a position in the office of the Pendleton County district clerk, where he could earn a living while studying law. After admission to the bar in 1825, Rusk began his law practice in Clarksville, Georgia. In 1827 he married Mary F. (Polly) Cleveland, the daughter of Gen. John Cleveland. Rusk became a business partner of his father-in-law after he and Polly married. He lived in the gold region of Georgia and made sizable mining investments. In 1834, however, the managers of the company in which he had invested embezzled all the funds and fled to Texas. Rusk pursued them to Nacogdoches but never recovered the money. He did, however, decide to stay in Texas. He became a citizen of Mexico on February 11, 1835, applied for a headright in David G. Burnet 's colony, and sent for his family. After hearing Nacogdoches citizens denounce the despotism of Mexico, Rusk became involved in the independence movement. He organized volunteers from Nacogdoches and hastened to Gonzales, where his men joined Stephen F. Austin 's army in preventing the Mexicans from seizing their cannon. They proceeded to San Antonio, but Rusk left the army before the siege of Bexar . The provisional government named him inspector general of the army in the Nacogdoches District, a position he filled from December 14, 1835, to February 26, 1836. As a delegate from Nacogdoches to the Convention of 1836 , Rusk not only signed the Texas Declaration of Independence but also chaired the committee to revise the constitution. The ad interim government , installed on March 17, 1836, appointed Rusk secretary of war.

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