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People & Events: Francisco Ruiz (1783-1840)
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Francisco Ruiz José Antonio Navarro's uncle, José Francisco Ruiz, was one of the most accomplished men in Texas during the revolutionary period. He and his nephew were the only Tejanos elected to travel to Washington-on-the-Brazos in 1836, where they signed the Texas Declaration of Independence. Representing his native city of Béxar, Ruiz served as senator in the first congress of the Texas Republic. Like Navarro, Ruiz felt a deep devotion to Texas. This feeling would inform his actions as Texas passed through the hands of multiple governments.

Privileged Youth
Ruiz was born to Juan Manuel Ruiz and María Manuela de la Peña in 1783. At a time when San Antonio was still a poor and isolated town, the Ruiz family had the resources to send Francisco to school in Spain. It is most likely there that he was exposed to the ideas of the Enlightenment that were swirling about Europe. Enlightenment beliefs in local rule and democracy had inspired the leading figures in both the American Revolution of 1776 and the French Revolution of 1789. For Ruiz, whose home and family was ruled by Spain's distant monarchy, the idea of a locally-based, democratic system of government had special resonance.

When Ruiz returned to San Antonio he was quickly appointed schoolmaster in 1803. He also tutored his young nephew, José Antonio, who had been forced to cut his schooling short when his father died unexpectedly. It is likely that Ruiz passed on to his nephew the Enlightenment ideals that he had come to cherish.

Exiled Rebel
When revolution against Spanish rule swept through San Antonio, Ruiz fought alongside the rebels. Outnumbered and badly beaten, the revolutionaries were defeated by Spain's powerful army. Ruiz had a price on his head. He fled with José Antonio to Louisiana, where they would live in exile.

In 1821, eight years after Ruiz had left Texas, Mexico won her independence from Spain. The new Mexican President, Augustín de Iturbide asked Ruiz to negotiate a peace treaty with the Comanches and the Lipans in northern Mexico. Ruiz accepted the position. He spoke the tribal languages, and was able to win the Native Americans' confidence. They would agree to a treaty within a year.

Friend to Settlers
The Mexican government rewarded his work with a promotion to the rank of lieutenant colonel. During this time, Ruiz also became a good friend of Stephen F. Austin, who had arrived on the heels of Mexican independence to organize an American colony in Texas. Like his nephew, Ruiz was in favor of American settlement, because he believed it would bring economic growth and progress. When Antonio López de Santa Anna assumed the Mexican presidency, however, such hopes for Texas were significantly threatened. Santa Anna's dictatorial regime held no tolerance for local rule and economic independence. For this reason, Ruiz and many other Tejanos joined the fight against Mexico for Texas independence. Of the fifty-nine men who signed the Texas Declaration of Independence, Ruiz and Navarro were the only two had been born there.

Lived to See Texas Free
After the Texas Revolution, Ruiz remained a staunch advocate of his homeland. After a long military career and lifetime fighting for the Republic of Texas, he died in 1840 in San Antonio.

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