b. 1815 – South Carolina
Roberts graduated from the University of Alabama and served a term in the Alabama Legislature before moving to San Augustine in 1841, where he practiced law and served as district judge. He served as chief justice of the Texas Supreme Court in 1864 but was removed from office in 1865. He opened a law school in Gilmer in 1868 after Radical Republicans would not let him take his seat when he was elected to the U.S. Senate. He was appointed and elected to the Texas Supreme Court again and served as chief justice for four years during which he helped rewrite much of Texas civil law.
Roberts was elected governor in 1878 on a platform of post-Reconstruction fiscal reform known as “pay as you go”, which included the sale of public lands to finance the state’s debt and fund public education, and favored ranchers and companies developing West Texas. The present Capitol was contracted, and the University of Texas opened during his term. He taught law at the University of Texas after his term ended.