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Benjamin Cromwell Franklin (1805-1873)

Associate Justice, Supreme Court of the Texas Republic, 1836-1839

Benjamin Cromwell Franklin, the first person to hold a judicial position in the Republic of Texas, was born April 25, 1805 in Cherokee County, Georgia. He attended Franklin College in Athens, Georgia, studied law privately following his graduation, and was admitted to the bar in Macon, Georgia in 1827.

Franklin arrived in Velasco, Texas in April 1835. Within a few months, the Texas Revolution began. Franklin joined the Texas army and fought in the Battle of San Jacinto. Following the battle it was Franklin who was dispatched to Galveston to give the news of victory to President Burnet. Shortly thereafter, he became the first judge of the Texas Republic when Burnet appointed him special district judge to hear the case of the Pocket, a U.S. ship seized by Texas during the revolution. By year's end, President Houston had appointed him judge of the Second Judicial District, which automatically made him an associate justice of the supreme court of the Texas Republic.

Franklin was married in 1837 and fathered two children. He resigned his judgeship and moved with his wife to Galveston in 1839 to start a law practice. His wife died in 1844, and Franklin remarried three years later.

Franklin represented Galveston in the Third, Fifth, and Eighth Legislatures. When the Civil War broke out he retired to his farm near Livingston in Polk County. He returned to Galveston in 1870. Benjamin Cromwell Franklin died following a brief illness on December 25, 1873, and was buried in Galveston.


Ericson, Joe E. Judges of the Republic of Texas (1836-1846) 109 (Dallas, Texas: Taylor Publishing Co., 1980).

Kemp, L. W. Franklin, Benjamin Cromwell, Handbook of Texas Online (last updated June 6, 2001).

Lynch, James Daniel. The Bench and Bar of Texas 173-177 (St. Louis, Missouri: Nixon-Jones Printing Co., 1885).

Extended bibliography

Baker, DeWitt Clinton. A Texas Scrap Book Made up of the History, Biography and Miscellany of Texas and Its People 274 (Austin, Texas: Steck Co., 1935).

Bentley, H. L. The Texas Legal Directory 39 (Austin, Texas: Democratic Statesman Office, 1877).

DeRyee, William. The Texas Album, of the Eighth Legislature, 1860, 83 (Austin, Texas: Miner, Lambert & Perry, 1860).

Ericson, Joe E. Judges of the Republic of Texas (1836-1846) 109 (Dallas, Texas: Taylor Publishing Co., 1980).

Fulmore, Zachary Taylor. A History and Geography of Texas as Told in County Names (Austin, Texas: Steck, 1915).

Lynch, James Daniel. The Bench and Bar of Texas 173 (St. Louis, Missouri: Nixon-Jones Printing Co., 1885).

Richardson, Thomas Clarence. 2 East Texas, Its History and Its Makers 903 (New York, New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Co., 1940).

Thrall, Homer S. The People's Illustrated Almanac 190 (St. Louis, Missouri: N. D. Thompson, 1880).

Thrall, Homer S. A Pictorial History of Texas 540 (St. Louis, Missouri: N. D. Thompson, 1885).

Benjamin Cromwell Franklin Papers. Barker Texas History Center, University of Texas (Austin, Texas).