Rusk, Thomas Jefferson, 1803–57, American political leader, U.S. Senator from Texas (1846–57), b. Pendleton District, S.C. He studied law under John C. Calhoun and practiced in Clarksville, Ga., for 10 years before moving to Texas in 1835. Rusk was a member of the convention that declared the independence of Texas (1836) and became secretary of war in the provisional government of the new republic. He distinguished himself at the battle of San Jacinto and, when Sam Houston was wounded there, commanded the Texas army for a brief period. He was (1838–40) chief justice of the Texas supreme court and president of the convention that confirmed the annexation of Texas (1845). The following year, he was elected Democratic Senator from Texas. He remained in the U.S. Senate until, despondent over the death of his wife, he committed suicide.