Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Upcoming 150th Anniversary Of Sam Houston's Secession

From The Texas Nationalist Movement and Secession and Nulification--News and Information:

150th Anniversary of Sam Houston's Secession


Published by Steve Baysinger, Director of Communications, Texas Nationalist Movement

Written by J D Murrah


150th Anniversary of events leading to the War Between the States

As the 150th anniversary of the War Between the States approaches, people are considering

what events led up to that monumental conflict. One of the events that occurred was the

secession of Texas from the Union. In the days leading up to that occurrence, the topic of

secession was often discussed in Texas and throughout the South.

When the people of Texas were considering what course for their state to take as the political

turmoil of 1860 surrounded them, they turned to their Governor, Sam Houston. In many

ways, the Virginia born leader shared many qualities with some of the founding fathers. He

spent most of his life in public office. He served in the military, Tennessee house of

Representative, the US Congress, the US Senate, President of the Republic of Texas and

has the distinction of being the only person to serve as Governor or two States (Texas and

Tennessee). If anything, Houston had experience in public office.

In an effort to quell his fellow Texans during this time of distress, the old warrior and former

President of the Republic of Texas addressed the issues at hand. At that time, Sam Houston

loved the Union even though he had serious reservations about Abraham Lincoln. The

legislators had been repeatedly asking him to call for a secession convention and he

repeatedly ignored the requests.

What many history books forget mentioning is that Houston loved Texas even more than the

Union. As the 150th anniversary of the War Between the States looms, historians are already

making references to Houston’s speech without considering the context of the background


1860: A Year Filled with Change

Prior to leaving the Presidency, Houston even went so far as to predict how in twenty years

the Southern States would eventually join Texas in a new nation. With the approaching

1860 election, many leaders forgot the previous policies and rantings of Sam, who by

then was a career political hack. Although the history books seek to portray the

situation as one where the people of Texas were seeking his wisdom, they neglect

mentioning that the State Legislature elected by the people were supporting of maintaining

Texas’s liberties and freedoms. The big debate consisted of what was the best way to do so. Even on the national political front, some politicians joked about how they hoped some

Texas Brutus would rise up against the hoary-headed Sam Houston. It is hard for modern minds to conceive of what the situation was like in 1860. The United States Congress

continued desiring increasing tariffs, which unfairly raised taxes on manufactured goods coming into Texas. They had recently passed a tariff which raised the

tax on clothing 25% and iron products, such as nails of 50%. The economic policies enacted routinely favored other regions (such as those of clothing factories and iron mills) of the

nation over interests important to Texas. Had these policies been in the best interest of the nation, they would have been generally better received. The present economic policies were

considered blatant ‘regional favoritism’ along with being considered outrageous increases in taxes.

When the mass murderer, John Brown attempted inciting a riot, troops were brought in

to arrest him, yet many in the Northern states were praising him as a ‘hero’. The

whole John Brown issue was made worse when people discovered that there were

wealthy financiers who provided Brown with money to incite trouble. There were also

isolated uprisings in Texas as well, as radical abolitionist preachers were spreading

religious talk that incited people to use violence in solving their problems. The citizens

were fearful that another mass murder episode like the one in Pottawattamie, Kansas

may occur or that their community would be the target of a destructive riot. Some of

the abolitionist preachers were even providing illegal weapons and poison to

populations they were seeking to incite. Governor Houston had dismissed the

uprisings as ‘rumors’. He downplayed their significance in Texas when the people

came to him with their concerns and call for action.

The United States had not secured or protected the borders of Texas. The Mexican bandit,

and gang leader, Juan Cortina was conducting frequent raids into Texas, capturing border

towns and threatening to incite racial hatred and further violence. Although the United States

had promised to protect the borders as part of the annexation agreement, they were not safe

from the violence that spilled over from Mexico. Not only were the borders unsecured, the

United States had not paid Texas anything for border protection. Even Houston had

complained about how the cost of border protection has risen astronomically since

annexation. In addition to trouble on the border, there were continued episodes on the

frontier with Amerindian uprisings as well.

Since Texas was considered a ‘slave state’, the citizens were limited as to where they could

settle in the territories acquired by the United States in the Mexican War. Even though they

had fought for the land, they were limited as to which portions of the land they had access to.

It was in the midst of these tense times that the people debated which course of action that

Texas should take. The presidential election was coming and the people discussed which

candidate and party they would support. They also considered many ‘what if’ situations,

and whether the option of secession is one needing consideration. As they debated the topic

of secession, it became clear that Governor Houston needed to address the topic. His rival,

former President Mirabeau Lamar had publicly spoke out in favor of secession as a political


It was at this time that Governor Houston decided that he needed to address the issue of

secession in Texas. The sickly, sixty-seven year old Houston gave what many consider his

finest speech in Austin, Texas. on September 22, 1860. In that speech, this elder statesman of

Texas posed many questions for the people to consider. Those questions were pertinent in

1860 and they remain so when questions of national crisis and its impact on Texas arise.

Although Houston had been ill, the issues at hand were serious enough for him to rise up and

address the concerns before him and Texas. Below is an excerpt from that speech where Houston

posed questions to the people of Texas to consider before seeking the option of secession.

His speech became the first in a series of speeches he delivered around Texas on the topic.

Excerpts from Sam Houston's Speech

“. .in 1836, I volunteered to aid in transplanting American liberty to this soil, it was with the

belief that the Constitution and the Union were to be perpetual blessings to the human

race,—that the success of the experiment of our fathers was beyond dispute, and that

whether under the banner of the Lone Star or that many-starred banner of the Union, I could

point to the land of Washington, Jefferson, and Jackson, as the land blest beyond all other

lands, where freedom would be eternal and Union unbroken. It concerns me deeply, as it

does everyone here, that these bright anticipations should be realized; and that it should be

Governor Houston's Speech in Austin, Texas

Sam Houston's Anti-Secession Speech delivered 22 September 1860

The full text of Governor Sam Houston's speech delivered 22 September 1860 in

Austin, Texas. That year, Houston had also considered running for President of the

United States as well. continued not only the proudest nationality the world has ever produced, but the freest and the most perfect…”

“Our forefathers saw the danger to which freedom would be subjected, from the helpless

condition of disunited States; and, to “form a more perfect Union,” they established this

Government. They saw the effect of foreign influence on rival States, the effect of

dissensions at home, and to strengthen all and perpetuate all, to bind all together, yet leave

all free, they gave us the Constitution and the Union. Where are the evidences that their

patriotic labor was in vain? Have we not emerged from an infant’s to a giant’s strength?

Have not empires been added to our domain, and States been created? All the blessings

which they promised their posterity have been vouchsafed; and millions now enjoy them, who

without this Union would to-day be oppressed and down-trodden in far-off foreign lands!

What is there that is free that we have not got? Are our rights invaded and no government

ready to protect us? No! Are our institutions wrested from us and other foreign to our taste

forced upon us? No! Is the right of free speech, a free press, or free suffrage taken from us?

Has our property been taken from us and the government failed to interpose?

No, none of these! The rights of the States and the rights of individuals are still maintained.

We have yet the Constitution, we have yet a judiciary, which has never been appealed to in

vain—we have yet just laws and officers to administer them; and an army and navy, ready to

maintain any and every constitutional right of the citizen. Whence then this clamor about

disunion? Whence this cry of protection to property or disunion, when even the very loudest

in the cry, declared under their Senatorial oaths, but a few months since, that no protection

was necessary? Are we to sell reality for a phantom?”

Initial Reactions to Houston's Speech

Houston went on with his speech, which was not well received at that time. Perhaps they

remembered that in 1836, he was supposed to be in the service of the Republic of Texas

as general, rather than claiming to be an agent of the United States. Those who had

been with Houston knew that he had advocated Texas ‘going it alone’ several


Those who lived in the Republic of Texas knew that all his patriotic pro-Union rhetoric

was not what transpired when he was President? They also knew that he often

changed loyalties with the times. At times he talked about joining with Great Britain, other

times he advocated returning to Mexico and now he was talking about staying in the

Union. He had sought policies of joining with those foreign powers that he was now bad mouthing. The people of Texas familiar with Sam Houston and his policies knew that the speech was pure political rhetoric.

This was the same hard drinking Sam Houston that many Texans demanded be removed

from office of United States Senator when he supported selling off a large portion of Texas to

the United States. They viewed as action as ‘giving away Texas’ in order to create the

States of New Mexico and Colorado. They knew this as the Houston that had stated that the

glory days of the United States were over.

Applying Houston's Speech to 2010

As the 150th anniversary of that speech approaches it behooves the people of Texas to

reconsider Houston’s speech in view of current events and in the context of when it

occurred. Texas again faces challenges, it is worth considering the questions posed by

Governor Houston in that speech.

What is there that is free that we have not got?

This question is one that concerns lost liberties. Have Texans lost any liberties? Indeed, in

2010 we have lost the liberty to travel freely, to educate and raise our children without state

More Sam Houston Quotes

"To secede from the Union and set up another government would cause war. If

you go to war with the United States, you will never conquer her, as she has the

money and the men. If she does not whip you by guns, powder, and steel, she will

starve you to death. It will take the flower of the country-the young men."

"Texas will again lift its head and stand among the nations. it ought to do so, for no

country upon the globe can compare with it in natural advantages" "Texas has yet to learn submission to any oppression, come from what source it may."

"Remember that whatever may be said by a

lady or her friends, it is not part of conduct

of a gallant or generous man to take up

arms against a woman"

Interference, the freedom (right) to make health care decisions, the freedom to do with our homes as we choose.

Are our rights invaded and no government ready to protect us?

In 2010, there are many cases where rights have been violated and the government has not

protected or supported the people. One of the most blatant responses to this one are the

continued border incursions, the right to read what we want without government scrutiny, the

right to have access to medicines that we wish, the right to have any firearm we wish, the

right to defend our homes with deadly force against invaders, the right to conduct business

without government interference, the right to have whatever toilets and light bulbs in our

homes that we wish the right to take our property (money) with us out of the country without

government interference and the list goes on. In 2010, the government has not protected

these rights, but rather has been the main agent in transgressing them.

Are our institutions wrested from us and other foreign to our taste forced upon us?

-This question concerns churches, schools and other institutions. In Texas, the control of the

prisons were taken from us by federal judges. The control of the schools in Texas has also

been taken from us, by a federal government that mandates admission policies. Children are

not allowed to pray in public schools, along with not being allowed to pray at public events as

well. The federal government has also mandated what churches can not preach on or

mention without loosing their tax-free status. The federal government has also mandated

schools must provide services to non-citizens rather than allow the local tax payers to decide

such matters. In some communities, schools and the communities are forced to accept

ideologies and lifestyles that are alien from those of the local values.

Is the right of free speech, a free press, or free suffrage taken from us?

-The ability to speak out freely has been severely curtailed. When HUD took citizens in

California to court because they spoke out against a proposed project, free speech died. Whe

n the government has pressed charges against people for ads placed in local papers for

discrimination, free speech has been taken from the people. When many colleges have ‘spe

ech codes’ that dictate what is and is not acceptable, there is not free speech. The press is

not free (at liberty to print what they please), nor is speech free any more. Although we are

free to vote, the states no longer have control of how elections are conducted. Here in Texas,

the federal government has interfered in how representative districts are drawn rather than

allowing Texans to decide that matter for themselves.

Has our property been taken from us and the government failed to interpose?

Undoubtedly property has been taken from the people of Texas. Since the time of Houston,

many have lost their homes through imposed property taxes, and the government did not

interpose. When Texans lost control of their land and land use through federal wetlands laws,

the federal government did not interpose, but rather prosecuted those they deemed in

violation of the laws. The government has not only failed to interpose, they have sought the

taking of property.

The rights of the States and the rights of individuals are still maintained.

In the recent debates on health care and firearms freedoms, it is clear that the rights of the

States and individuals are in danger. Since Houston’s time, the rights of both States and

individuals have been undermined by the federal government through policy and court

rulings. Rights concerning firearms, access to medicines, financial rights, rights to make

policy concerning prisons, schools and other institutions have been taken from the States

and assumed by the federal government.

Although Governor Houston’s questions were answered with in the negative in 1860, the

same can not be said in 2010. These questions were Sam Houston’s litmus test regarding

the question of secession. If Houston speech were given today, the answers to the question

he posed would indicate clearly that it is in the best interest of Texas to sever the political ties

of Union since they have become oppressive in nature. Many spouses have left the union of

marriage for lesser offenses than those which have taken place between 1860 and 2010.

It is also worth noting that in 1863, Sam Houston was working behind the scenes advocating

that Texas leave the Confederacy and ‘go it alone’ again. He had been conducting

correspondence behind the scenes to put his plan into action. There has also been some

evidence that the French legation was working in support of such a plan for an independent

Texas. At that time the French government determined it was in their best interest, given the

pro-French government of Maximilian in Mexico to have an independent Texas as a buffer

nation. Houston died in 1863 before his plan could be put in action.

History Related Links

The Texas History Store - Lulu.com

The author's history of Texas, covering men like Sam Houston, David Crockett, Ben Milam

and more. Find out how Texas history affects you today.

Terry's Texas Rangers
Jeffrey D. Murrah

Know Southern History: Main

A collection of Southern History Related Material

You Found It! The WEB's Most Extensive Collection of Free Civil war Resources, and Over

10,000 Pages of Pure Civil War Gold!

Sam Houston's Last Stand: Hero of San Jacinto Fought Texas Secession

Sam Houston was a legend in his own time, famed as a leader of the Texas Revolution of

1836. But Houston, a strong Unionist, fought against Texas joining the Confederacy

American History - Sam Houston

What if Texas Did Secede?
The Electoral Map

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.