ELISHA MARSHALL PEASE was born in Enfield, Connecticut. He left school at the age of fourteen to become a clerk in a country store in Hartford. Nine years later he moved to Texas, settling in Bastrop, where he studied law. He attended the Convention of 1836 and supported the Texas Declaration of Independence from Mexico. He was chief clerk of the Texas Navy in 1836 and 1837, practiced law in Brazoria from 1837 to 1846, and served in the Texas Legislature from 1846 to 1850. He won the gubernatorial election three years after leaving the legislature. During his tenure as governor, Pease emphasized the construction of railroads and the establishment of public facilities such as a state university. He fought successfully for a tax rate reduction while simultaneously reducing the level of the public debt. After serving two consecutive terms, he declined to seek reelection in 1857. A Unionist, he retired from public life during the Civil War. But in 1866, Radical Republicans nominated him for governor to challenge a Conservative Democrat who opposed suffrage for African-Americans. Although defeated, Pease was placed in office by the Union military commander in Texas, serving as Provisional Governor until September, 1869 and Acting Governor for several more months. He then retired again to private life—this time in Austin, where he practiced law and became a banker. He died while visiting a health spa in Lampasas, Texas, and was buried in Austin.
Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 4. Westport, CT: Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols.
The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, Vol. 9. New York: James T. White & Company.