Sam Houston and Secession

Today, we are pleased to welcome back guest author Joe Owen

Sam Houston. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Sam Houston. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

One of my heroes in American history is Sam Houston (March 2, 1793 – July 26, 1863). During the storm of “war fever” that was sweeping through the United States, and especially in the South, Sam Houston was trying to be the voice of reason and neutrality. Sam had the accurate vision of what was to come if war was declared between the states.”Whatever is calculated to weaken or impair the strength of [the] Union,” he said, “whether originating at the North or the South,—whether arising from the incendiary violence of abolitionists, or from the coalition of nullifiers, will never meet with my unqualified approval.”

Houston was evicted from his office on March 16, 1861, for refusing to take an oath of loyalty to the Confederacy. “Fellow-Citizens,” he wrote, in the name of your rights and liberties, which I believe have been trampled upon, I refuse to take this oath. In the name of the nationality of Texas, which has been betrayed by the Convention, I refuse to take this oath. In the name of the Constitution of Texas, I refuse to take this oath. In the name of my own conscience and manhood, which this Convention would degrade by dragging me before it, to pander to the malice of my enemies, I refuse to take this oath. I deny the power of this Convention to speak for Texas. . . . I protest . . . against all the acts and doings of this convention and I declare them null and void.

After leaving the Governor’s mansion, Houston traveled to Galveston. Along the way, many people demanded an explanation for his refusal to support the Confederacy. On April 19, 1861, from a hotel window, he offered a tragic prediction to the assembled crowd:

“Let me tell you what is coming. After the sacrifice of countless millions of treasure and hundreds of thousands of lives, you may win Southern independence if God be not against you, but I doubt it. I tell you that, while I believe with you in the doctrine of states rights, the North is determined to preserve this Union. They are not a fiery, impulsive people as you are, for they live in colder climates. But when they begin to move in a given direction, they move with the steady momentum and perseverance of a mighty avalanche; and what I fear is, they will overwhelm the South.”

Critics will say what they will about Sam Houston, but he was hardly a traitor to Texas or the South. Although he upset the people of Texas, he loved them, and he loved the South. But he was also timely, and he proved uncannily correct in his prediction.

This entry was posted in Antebellum South, Civil War Events, Personalities and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Sam Houston and Secession

  1. David Corbett says:

    Ah, the gratitude of Texas to the United States for assuming their debts and granting them statehood !

  2. John Paul McDaniel says:

    Let’s suppose the South had gained the session it wanted……We’d have the Confederate States of America & the Union Stated of America….two separate countries…..50 years after that, World War I….and another 20 years, World War II…….with NO!!! united America to “throw-it’s-weight” into the conflict on the side of the Allies……..What kind of world would we be living in today???…….The Axis powers would be running our lives now…..SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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