About Richard Bennett Hubbard, Jr.
Richard Bennett Hubbard, Jr. (November 1, 1832 – July 12, 1901) was the 16th Governor of Texas from 1876 to 1879 and United States Envoy to Japan from 1885 to 1889. He was a Confederate veteran of the American Civil War and was a member of the Democratic Party.
Hubbard was the son of Richard Bennett and Serena (Carter) Hubbard. He was born in Walton County, Georgia, but spent his formative years in Jasper County, Georgia. In 1851, Hubbard graduated from Mercer Institute with an A.B. degree in literature. He was elected National University Orator, a high honor at Mercer. Hubbard then briefly attended lectures at the University of Virginia. In 1853, Hubbard graduated from Harvard University with an LL.B. degree. After graduating from Harvard, Hubbard and his parents moved to Smith County, Texas. They settled in Tyler, Texas and then on a plantation near Lindale, Texas.
Hubbard first entered politics in 1855 as an opponent of the American Know-Nothing Party. In the 1856 presidential election, Hubbard supported James Buchanan, who appointed him United States Attorney for the western district of Texas. Hubbard resigned in 1859 to run for the Texas legislature. He was elected and became a supporter of Southern secession.
After secession, Hubbard ran unsuccessfully for a seat in the Congress of the Confederate States. During the American Civil War he commanded the Twenty-Second Texas Infantry Regiment and served in the Trans-Mississippi Department in Arkansas and Louisiana.
Hubbard's postwar law practice, supplemented by income from real estate and railroad promotion, enabled him to resume his political career by 1872, when he was chosen presidential elector on the Horace Greeley ticket. Hubbard was subsequently elected Lieutenant Governor of Texas in 1873 and 1876 and succeeded to the governorship on December 1, 1876 when Richard Coke resigned to become a United States Senator.
Hubbard's gubernatorial term was marked by post-Reconstruction financial difficulties, by general lawlessness, and by the fact that the legislature was never in session during his administration. Though political opponents prevented his nomination for a second term, he remained popular with the people of Texas. His accomplishments as governor include reducing the public debt, fighting land fraud, promoting educational reforms, and restoring public control of the state prison system.
In 1884, Hubbard served as temporary chairman of the Democratic national nominating convention. He supported the party nominee, Grover Cleveland, and was appointed Ambassador to Japan in 1885 after Cleveland won the presidency. Hubbard's four years in Japan marked a delicate transitional period in Japanese-American relations. Under American and European influences, Japan was emerging from feudalism and dependency and had begun to insist on recognition as a diplomatic equal, a position Hubbard strongly supported. He concluded with Japan an extradition treaty, and his preliminary work on the general treaty revisions provided the basis for the revised treaties of 1894-99. When he returned to the United States in 1889, he wrote a book based upon his diplomatic experience, The United States in the Far East, which was published in 1899.
Hubbard was a Baptist, a Freemason, and a member of the Board of Directors of Texas A&M University. In 1876 he was chosen Centennial Orator of Texas to represent the state at the World's Exposition in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. There he urged national unity and goodwill in an acclaimed oration.
Hubbard was first married to Eliza B. Hudson, daughter of Dr. G. C. Hudson of Lafayette, Alabama, on November 30, 1858; one daughter of this marriage, Serena, survived. Hubbard's second marriage, on November 26, 1869, was to Janie Roberts, daughter of Willis Roberts of Tyler. Janie died during Hubbard's mission to Japan, leaving him a second daughter, Searcy. Hubbard lived his final years in Tyler, where he died on July 12, 1901. He is buried in Oakwood Cemetery, Tyler.
Hubbard in Hill County is named for him.