Pages Navigation Menu

Lorenzo De Zavala & His Fight against Opression

Remembering a leader and freedom fighter for the Texas Republic in March 1836, 181 years ago a free Texas declared independence from Mexico.

The kids and I took a tour of the Texas Capitol building in Austin last summer. This impressive domed structure is made of sunset red granite from a local quarry. Sitting on 2.25 acres, it contains 360,000 square feet (33,000 m2) and has nearly four hundred rooms. The central rotunda features portraits of every person who has served as president of the Republic of Texas or as governor of the State of Texas.


On the second floor, we were allowed into one of the legislative chambers because lawmakers were not in session at the time of our visit. The room oozed history, tradition, and power. I really love old, historical buildings. I think about the many souls that walked the same stairs and occupied the same space and it always gives me chills.



The art work and the murals were impressive. In one corner of the chamber, I noticed a portrait of man. It wasn’t sized as grand a scale like so many of the other portraits we had seen that day. The placard beneath read, in part:

Lorenzo De Zavala


The first vice-president of the Republic of Texas.


The more I’ve learned about this man, I am amazed at what he accomplished during his lifetime for freedom and for the great state of Texas.

Born in Merida, what is now Yucatan, Zavala served as a deputy for Yucatan in the Spanish Cortes, was elected to the Mexican Senate, served as Governor of the State of Mexico, and was also Treasurer in the Mexican Government. His support of democratic reforms led to his imprisonment in 1814 for three years. While in prison he taught himself to read English and studied medical textbooks, which qualified him to practice medicine. He demonstrated skills as a writer in uncounted articles, newspaper editorials, and pamphlets, and was a life long fighter against oppression.

Decorative door hinges, Texas state Capitol building, Austin.

Decorative door hinges, Texas state Capitol building, Austin.

Appointed by President Santa Anna, he served as  Minister to France as a representative from the Republic of Mexico. He resigned his position in 1833 in defiance of the Santa Anna’s declared dictatorship, and relocated to Texas to take an active part in the struggle for liberty. He settled his family on Buffalo Bayou, across from the future site of where the Battle of San Jacinto occurred.

Delegates from seventeen Mexican municipalities and Pecan Point, met at Washington-on-the-Brazos. On the morning of Wednesday, March 2, a committee of five, which included Lorenzo De Zavala, was appointed to draft the document which would be a declaration of independence from the oppressive dictatorship of Santa Anna. With an impressive combination of legislative, executive, ministerial, and diplomatic experience, together with his education and the ability to speak several languages, Zavala was recognized as a well respected law maker and politician for the newly formed Republic of Texas. His colleagues elected Zavala as the first interim vice-president. He resigned his position soon after due to health issues, and was buried at his home. The small plot has since sunk into the Buffalo Bayou.