While our physical offices are closed until further notice in accordance with Austin's COVID-19 "stay home-work safe" order, the Handbook of Texas will remain available at no-cost for you, your fellow history enthusiasts, and all Texas students currently mandated to study from home. If you have the capacity to help us maintain our online Texas history resources during these uncertain times, please consider making a 100% tax-deductible contribution today. Thank you for your support of TSHA and Texas history. Donate Today »


Donald E. Reynolds

MARSHALL, JOHN F. (?–1862). John F. Marshall, editor and politician, was born and reared in Virginia. As a young man he lived in Mississippi. On September 16, 1850, at Shelbyville, Kentucky, he married Ann P. Newman, daughter of a wealthy Jefferson County cotton planter. The couple had three children, only two of whom lived to adulthood. Marshall entered the newspaper business and became editor of the Jackson Mississippian, a staunch states'-rights Democratic journal. In 1852 he and his family moved to Austin, Texas, where he purchased a half interest in the Texas State Gazette (see AUSTIN STATE GAZETTE). His editorial direction soon made the Gazette a leading forum for his extreme Southern states'-rights views. He advocated such causes as the annexation of Cuba and reopening the African slave trade. Such controversial positions were bound to prove divisive, and during the late 1850s Marshall was among the catalysts that caused a realignment of party politics in Texas. He became chairman of the state Democratic party in 1856 and held that position during the critical years leading to the Civil War. His paper became the mouthpiece of the state Democratic party, and he used it to help elect Hardin R. Runnels governor over Sam Houston in 1857, thus earning the undying ire of the latter. In 1858 Marshall precipitated a schism within the party by his insistence that the Democrats nominate candidates for all elective offices. A number of leading Democrats opposed this proposed departure from the traditional view that some offices, notably judgeships, should be nonpartisan. Marshall got his way, but the resulting bitterness within the Democratic ranks helped fuel a surge by the opposition which, the next year, swept Houston into office as governor.

When the war began, Marshall abandoned journalism to take up arms against the North. He impetuously joined the army as a private, but was shortly appointed lieutenant colonel in the Fourth Texas Regiment (see HOOD'S TEXAS BRIGADE) by his friend President Jefferson Davis. When John B. Hood, the regimental commander, was promoted to brigadier general, Marshall became colonel of the regiment. The combativeness that had characterized his journalistic and political careers may have cost him his life. After serving in a clerical capacity during the first year of the war, Marshall finally saw action in the Seven Days' Battles, near Richmond, in June 1862. While leading a charge against a strongly entrenched Union position at Gaines' Mill on June 27 Marshall refused to dismount like the other officers, and was shot in the head. He was buried in the Confederate Cemetery at Richmond.

Walter L. Buenger, Secession and the Union in Texas (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1984). W. S. Oldham, "Colonel John Marshall," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 20 (October 1916). Amelia W. Williams and Eugene C. Barker, eds., The Writings of Sam Houston, 1813–1863 (8 vols., Austin: University of Texas Press, 1938–43; rpt., Austin and New York: Pemberton Press, 1970).

Image Use Disclaimer

All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.

For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.


The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, Donald E. Reynolds, "MARSHALL, JOHN F.," accessed July 10, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fma55.

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
visit the mytsha forums to participate

View these posts and more when you register your free MyTSHA account.

Call for Papers: Texas Center for Working-Class Studies Events, Symposia, and Workshops
Hi all! You may be interested in this call for papers I received from the Texas Center for Working-Class Studies at Collin College...

Katy Jennings' Ride Scholarly Research Request
I'm doing research on Catherine Jennings Lockwood, specifically the incident known as "Katy Jennings' Ride." Her father was Gordon C. Jennings, the oldest man to die at the Alamo...

Texas Constitution of 1836 Co-Author- Elisha Pease? Ask a Historian
The TSHA profile of Elisha Marshall Pease states that he wrote part of the Texas Constitution although he was only a 24 year-old assistant secretary (not elected). I cannot find any other mention of this authorship work by Pease in other credible research about the credited Constution authors...