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Biography

<em><strong>Domestic Happiness</strong></em>

Domestic Happiness

The American antebellum period is not known as an era that celebrated independent women. The structure of American society was based on a patriarchal system, where men not only made decisions that ran the country, but also their families. Women were expected to stay in the home, manage the household affairs, raise the children, and give support to her husband in his endeavors. Her position was to be in the background, while her husband, and men in general, were allowed entrance to the world of politics and business.

It is during this oppressive era that American history finds a very unique woman who did not follow the rules, and pursued her own agenda, regardless of what society had to say. She was an anomaly of her times, and ignored the status quo and lived life on her terms. She was a woman of many names, as well as a woman of many adventures.

 

 


 

<em><strong>Jane Maria Eliza McManus Storms Cazneau</strong></em>

Jane Maria Eliza McManus Storm Cazneau

Who was this noteworthy, yet curious woman? She was born Jane Maria Eliza McManus in 1807 near Troy, New York. She added the names of her husbands as her life progressed, and became Jane Maria Eliza McManus Storms, and then Jane Maria Eliza McManus Storms Cazneau, or simply Jane Cazneau. As a journalist, she would use a combination of these names, or use the pen name Cora Montgomery, or Corrine Montgomery, or simply Montgomery, or Storm. She even used the name of her husband’s business partner, Joseph W. Fabens, on occasion.[1] At times she would not sign her essays at all, to avoid being identified as a woman. This practice created the opportunity to bring her out of the past, and place her in a controversy in the twenty-first century. For the purpose of this essay, to avoid confusion, I will refer to her simply as Cazneau.  

Her father had been a lawyer, and served as a member of Congress between 1825 and 1827. He was influential in her early years, and she became interested in land speculation, like her father. In 1833, Cazneau and her brother went to Texas to start a colony. They recruited a group of German immigrants and offered a two-year indenture for free passage. The venture failed when her partner was delayed in providing supplies. After an attempt to borrow money from Aaron Burr, the former vice-president, also failed, the plan for a colony was ended.[2]

<em><strong>Portrait of Aaron Burr, 1802</strong></em>

Aaron Burr

Her association with Burr began as a mentorship. He was more than fifty years older than her at seventy-eight, but apparently their relationship grew into a personal one. Burr’s wife named Cazneau as his mistress, in their divorce trial of 1834.[3] The key witness, a servant of Burr’s, offered some very damaging evidence:

Q. Do you swear that Col Burr at that time had sexual connection with Miss McManus
A. Yes sir--I saw them several times before
Q. How old was he then
A. She does not know exactly--he was a very old man [Burr would have been 78 in 1834]....
Q. Did you ever witness anything between them at that house in Reed Street
A. Yes she sometimes had her frock unpinned & open all behind
Q. Did you ever catch them together there
A. Yes sir I did one Sunday and Col Burr gave her [sic] a new pair of shoes not to tell--but I did tell and will tell & always meant to tell because I was ready to go to church and he gave me orders to go to Bear Market and get oysters for Jane McManus' dinner
Q. When was it that she caught them together
A. Before she [sic] went to get the oysters...
Q. What did you see
A. She [sic] saw Jane McManus with her clothes all up & Col Burr with his hands under them and his pantaloons down
Q. What did Jane McManus say
A. She said Oh la! Mary saw us [4]

<em><strong><em>The Annexation of Texas to the Union</em><br /></strong></em>

The Annexation of Texas to the Union

After the scandal subsided, Cazneau became involved in the quest for Texas’s independence from Mexico. She became an avid supporter for the annexation of Texas, and she announced intent to contribute money and arms to the cause of Texas independence. [5] The quest for new land was popular in the 1830s and 1840s, and people came from many points of the country to take advantage of the movement. The historian Robert May called the Texas Revolution “the most successful filibuster in American history,” since very few soldiers in the rebel army were permanent residents of Texas.[6]

Jane became fluent in Spanish, and met many influential people, including Sam Houston, during her time advocating for independence.[7] She wrote “The Presidents of Texas” for the March 1845 issue of the The United States Magazine and Democratic Review, and Texas and Her Presidents, With a Glance at Her Climate and Agricultural Capabilities, published in New York, also in 1845.