US Congressman, Texas Patriot. An important political figure of the Republic and early statehood of Texas. He was the first person to represent that state in the US Congress. Kaufman was born in Boiling Springs, Pennsylvania, the son of German-Jewish parents. After graduating from Princeton College in 1833, he studied law in Mississippi under John A. Quitman and in 1835 became a practicing attorney in Natchitoches, Louisiana. Drawn to the Republic of Texas by its struggle for independence, he settled in Nacogdoches in 1837. As a Major in the local militia he fought in the Cherokee War and was seriously wounded at the Battle of Neches (July 1839), from which he never fully recovered. Kaufman was a member of the Texas House of Representatives from 1839 to 1843 (the last two terms as Speaker), and the Texas Senate from 1843 to 1845. In February 1845, Republic President Anson Jones named him to succeed Andrew J. Donelson as Chargé d'Affaires to the US; he never presented his credentials and Texas entered statehood at the end of that year. Instead he was elected as a Democrat to represent the Eastern District of Texas in the Twenty-Ninth and two succeeding Congresses, serving from March 1846 until his death. During his time on Capitol Hill Kaufman was pugnacious in defending the interests of his home state. He unsuccessfully argued that parts of what are now New Mexico, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Wyoming rightfully belonged to Texas, and attempted to persuade Governor Peter H. Bell to have the State Militia invade Santa Fe. He did gain concessions from the Compromise of 1850, in which the federal government assumed the debts of the former Republic. In his final term he was Chairman of the Committee on Rules. Kaufman died at 37 in Washington, DC and was originally buried at Congressional Cemetery; he was reinterred at the State Cemetery in Austin in 1932. Kaufman County, Texas was created in his honor. He was the only Jewish Texan to serve in Congress until 1979.
Bio by: Bobb Edwards
Jane Baxter Richardson Kaufman