JAMES PINCKNEY HENDERSON was born in Lincoln County, North Carolina. He attended the University of North Carolina but left to read law and was admitted to the Bar in 1829. In 1836, he led a company of militia to Texas to fight in the revolution and was commissioned Brigadier-General. He was appointed Attorney General of the newly-established Republic in 1836 and succeeded Stephen F. Austin as Secretary of State that same year. From 1837 to 1844 he was Texas envoy to Great Britain, France, and the United States. He was elected to the convention of 1845 that approved the annexation of Texas by the United States and went on to be elected the first governor of the state, with the primary task of organizing Texas government. When war broke out with Mexico in 1846, he was granted leave by the state legislature to lead regiments of Texas volunteers in the conflict. Rising to the rank of Major General in the U.S. Army, he negotiated the surrender of Monterrey to American forces. Resuming his duties as governor in 1847, he was adamant in his insistence that the U.S. government respect Texas’s land claims westward to the Rio Grande and was instrumental in securing settlement of the Texas boundary issue that gave Texas monetary compensation for lands it had surrendered to the federal government. Henderson declined to seek reelection and spent the following ten years practicing law in San Augustine, after which he was elected to the U.S. Senate. He died one year later. He was buried in the Congressional Cemetery in Washington, DC but was reinterred in the state cemetery in Austin in 1930.
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. 1. New York: James T. White & Company.