Final arguments were presented on May 7, 1831 in the U.S. House of Representatives trial of Sam Houston for the public beating of Rep. William Stanbery of Ohio.
Three weeks earlier, Houston confronted his critic on Pennsylvania Avenue and thrashed the Congressman with a hickory cane. Stanbery pulled his pistol only to have it misfire sparing the life of the future President of the Texas Republic. The House voted to convict Houston of contempt of Congress, but his punishment was a mild reprimand.
On February 18, 1839, Sam Houston spoke at the first temperance meeting ever held in the town named for him but ducked out the back before taking the customary no-alcohol pledge.
The San Jacinto hero’s lifelong battle with the bottle is the subject of the “This Week in Texas History” column for Wednesday, February 12 through Tuesday, February 18. If you missed it in your local paper, you can read it with your own private email subscription available at the “General Store” on this web site.
The Nashville newspapers carried Sam Houston’s announcement on January 30, 1829 that he would seek a second term as governor of Tennessee.
But within weeks the 36 year incumbent not only ended his reelection campaign but also resigned from office and went to live with his childhood friends the Cherokees. Most historians believe the cause of Houston’s bizarre behavior was the sudden departure of his teenaged bride. Whether that was true or not, the stage was set for his fateful trip to Texas in December 1832.
The subject of my Texas history column for the week of Wednesday, December 25 through Tuesday, December 31 is “affairs of honor” in early Texas.
Dueling was a nasty business southerners brought with them, and any real or imagined insult could result in crack-of-dawn combat. Sam Houston refused to take dueling seriously and on a written invitation once jotted a note to his secretary: “This is number twenty-four. The angry gentleman must wait his turn.”
Yielding to mounting public pressure, David G. Burnet resigned as the temporary head of state on October 22, 1837 making way for Sam Houston to be sworn in a month early as the first president of the Republic of Texas.
This is the subject of the “This Week in Texas History” column for Wednesday, October 16 through Tuesday, October 22. Read it in your local newspaper or with a private email subscription available on this web site.
Worried over rumors the Texans planned to execute Santa Anna, President Andrew Jackson warned Sam Houston in a letter dated September 5, 1836, that “Nothing now could tarnish the character of Texas more than such an act as this.”
Houston’s old mentor was preaching to the choir. The San Jacinto victor had risked his neck to save the loser and would do so again over the strong objections of the majority of his fellow Texans.
Those Texans, who wistfully yearn for the politics of yesteryear when everybody “got along,” need to study their Sam Houston. The General gave no quarter and asked for none in the no-holds-barred battles with his critics.
For example, in a delayed San Jacinto Day address at the battlefield on June 9, 1855, then Senator Houston called the “Galveston News” a “low, dirty sheet” and editor Willard Richardson “too mean to steal.” Richardson, nicknamed “Napoleon of the Texas Press,” disagreed with Houston on every issue under the Lone Star sun and regularly raked him over the coals in the pages of “The News.”