ORAN MILO ROBERTS was born in Laurens District, South Carolina but moved with his family to Alabama as a child. In 1836 he graduated from the University of Alabama (where he had become the school’s librarian), after which he studied law and began the private practice of law, first in Alabama and later in San Augustine, Texas. He was appointed District Attorney for the Fifth Judicial District of the Republic of Texas in 1844 and Judge of the same district two years later, a position that he held for five years. In 1857 he was elected an Associate Justice of the Texas Supreme Court, serving until 1861, and from 1864 to 1865 he was Chief Justice of that court. During the Civil War, he raised and commanded the Eleventh Texas Infantry Regiment for service with the Confederacy, holding the rank of Colonel. He was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1866 but was denied his seat by Radical Republicans. He returned to his law practice in Tyler, Texas, and also served as President of the Board of Trustees and a lecturer of law at the University of San Augustine. Serving two terms as governor, he reduced the pensions of Texas Revolution veterans and lowered public school appropriations-both with the objective of controlling the state debt. In addition, the University of Texas at Austin was opened during his administration. After leaving office, he became a Professor of Law at the University of Texas, a position that he held until 1893. He died five years later in Austin and was buried in Oakwood Cemetery.
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.