Upon his arrival in New York, Zavala sought to interest eastern capitalists in the empresario grants he had received on March 12, 1829, which authorized him to settle 500 families in a huge tract of land in what is now southeastern Texas. In New York City, in October 1830, he transferred his interest in the grants to the Galveston Bay and Texas Land Company. After spending several months during 1831 in France and England, Zavala resided in New York City until his return to Mexico in the summer of 1832. From December 1832 until October 1833 he again served as governor of the state of Mexico, before returning to the Congress as a deputy for his native state of Yucatán. Named by President Antonio López de Santa Anna in October 1833 to serve as the first minister plenipotentiary of the Mexican legation in Paris, he reported to that post in the spring of 1834. When he learned that Santa Anna had assumed dictatorial powers in April of that year, Zavala denounced his former ally and resigned from his diplomatic assignment. Disregarding Santa Anna's orders to return to Mexico City, he traveled to New York and then to Texas, where he arrived in July 1835. From the day of his arrival, he was drawn into the political caldron of Texas politics. Although he first advocated the cause of Mexican Federalism, within a few weeks he became an active supporter of the independence movement; he served in the Permanent Council and later as the representative of Harrisburg in the Consultation and the Convention of 1836.
Zavala's legislative, executive, ministerial, and diplomatic experience, together with his education and linguistic ability, uniquely qualified him for the role he was to play in the drafting of the constitution of the Republic of Texas. His advice and counsel earned him the respect of his fellow delegates, who elected him ad interim vice president of the new republic. In the weeks after adjournment of the convention, Zavala rejoined his family at their home at Zavala Point on Buffalo Bayou, from where they fled to Galveston Island as Santa Anna's army pursued Zavala and other cabinet members across Texas. In accordance with the provisions of the Treaties of Velasco, Zavala was appointed, on May 27, 1836, one of the peace commissioners to accompany Santa Anna to Mexico City, where the general was to attempt to persuade the Mexican authorities to recognize the independence of Texas. The frustration of this plan by certain Texas military units brought an end to the peace commission. Shortly thereafter, Zavala returned to his home in poor health and relinquished his part in the affairs of state. He resigned the vice presidency on October 17, 1836. Less than a month later, soaked and half-frozen by a norther after his rowboat overturned in Buffalo Bayou, he developed pneumonia, to which he succumbed on November 15, 1836. He was buried at his home in a small cemetery plot marked by the state of Texas in 1931. Zavala's memory is preserved in Texas in a number of place names, notably Zavala County, a village in Jasper County, a rural settlement in Angelina County, and in numerous street and school names.
NoteThis is a cenotaph. The Zavala family cemetery, where Lorenzo was laid to rest, was originally located on Buffalo Bayou, directly across from the San Jacinto battlefield. It was discovered in the early 1900s that due to natural erosion the burial grounds were slowly collapsing into the water. The Zavala family decided against exhuming and relocating the bodies for religious reasons, so as a compromise the remaining headstones were transferred to the battlefield.
29° 45.210, -095° 05.388
San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site