Kinney, Henry L. (1814–1861?)

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Kinney, Henry L. (1814–1861?)

Henry L. Kinney (b. 3 June 1814; d. July 1861?), U.S. filibuster and borderlands entrepreneur. A Pennsylvanian by birth, Kinney farmed and speculated in land in Illinois in the 1830s. Ruined in the Panic of 1837, he migrated to the Republic of Texas. In 1840, at the mouth of the Nueces River, within territory disputed by Texas and Mexico, he established a trading post/smuggler's nest that became known as Kinney's Rancho. Kinney, who became bilingual, survived border strife by providing information and supplies to Texan and Mexican forces alike, sometimes serving as intermediary between them. His ranch became the nucleus of a boomtown, Corpus Christi, after General Zachary Taylor stationed his army in its vicinity prior to the Mexican-American War. During that conflict, Kinney apparently was division quartermaster on the general staff of the Texas Volunteers and then agent of the U.S. Quartermaster Department, serving as supplier, scout, interpreter, and dispatch carrier.

Kinney served in the Republic of Texas's Ninth and Tenth congresses, as well as the Texas Constitutional Convention of 1845 (where he championed the interests of Spanish-speaking inhabitants). Although elected to the Senate of the first four Texas legislatures, he never took his seat in the second legislature and abandoned his seat in the fourth. After the Mexican-American War, he became involved in the publication of the Corpus Christi Star (later the Nueces Valley), Texas Ranger affairs, and promotion of Texas's first state fair (1852), held both to boost Corpus Christi and to raise aid for José María Carvajal's Republic of the Sierra Madre.

From 1854 to 1858 Kinney devoted himself to the Central American Land and Mining Company, designed to colonize—really filibuster—Central America's Mosquito Coast, on the basis of an invalid land grant. Kinney ruled Greytown (San Juan del Norte) as "civil and military governor" for part of this period. In 1859, Kinney served as Texas governor Sam Houston's agent to investigate Juan Cortina's raid on Brownsville. Elected a representative in Texas's eighth legislature, Kinney opposed secession and, in March 1861, was forced to give up his seat. Several undocumented accounts assert that he died at Matamoros, Mexico.

See alsoFilibustering .


William O. Scroggs, Filibusters and Financiers: The Story of William Walker and His Associates (1916), esp. pp. 93-132.

Joseph Milton Nance, After San Jacinto: The Texas-Mexican Frontier, 1836–1841 (1963).

James T. Wall, Manifest Destiny Denied: America's First Intervention in Nicaragua (1981), esp. pp. 29-70.

Additional Bibliography

Clayton Anderson, Gary. The Conquest of Texas: Ethnic Cleansing in the Promised Land, 1820–1875. Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press, 2005.

Gore, W.R. The Life of Henry Lawrence Kinney. M.A. thesis; University of Texas, 1948.

Thrall S., Homer. A Pictorial History of Texas. St. Louis: Thompson, 1879.

Wilbarger, J.W. Indian Depredations in Texas. Austin: State House, 1985.

                                             Robert E. May