William Carey Crane.

Life and select literary remains of Sam Houston, of Texas online

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. dent of the Baylor University, Independence^ Texas.






IN the year 1865, Mrs. Margaret M. Houston (widow of Gen. Sam
Houston), with whom I had become acquainted at Marion, Ala.,
in August, 1839, when she was Miss Lea, requested me to undertake
to write the life and edit and publish the literary remains of her hus-
band. I did not then feel competent to the task, especially as I had
only seen the General twice in my life, once at the President's house
in 1846, and again on the floor of the U. S. Senate in 1852 ; on both
occasions while I was with our mutual friend, Hon. Stephen Adams,
M. C. from Mississippi. With reluctance I consented, in the belief
that the parties to whom she referred me for aid and information
would give me their assistance. None of these parties have, to this
day, given me any aid, except two ; to whom due credit has been
given in this work. All counselled delay. An extract from one of
the gentlemen named as my counsellor and assistant, will account
in some measure for delay. It is dated March 23, 1866: " It does
not seem to me that there is any pressing urgency to present the
Life and Labors of Gen. Houston to the world. It is true that they
will possess a paramount interest so long as the Republic, or State, or
Country of Texas, whichever it may be, shall possess an interest for
men ; yet even in this view there is an advantage in bringing out a
book in an opportune time. At the present time every mind that
thinks is powerfully, often painfully preoccupied with the strange,
anomalous, grave condition of our affairs, with the uncertainty of
our future and of that of the gigantic Government of the United
States." The writer of the letter from which this extract is taken
referred me to my old schoolmate and fellow-townsman in Rich
mond, Va., Major James W. Scott, of Houston, and Washington D
Miller, Esq., the admirable private secretary of Gen. Houston. Both
of these gentlemen have passed away ; but each did all he could to
put me in possession of needed information.

From Mrs. Houston I had one positive injunction ; which was, to
have at least one chapter setting forth Gen. Houston's religious
character ; which I have given. I have consulted the following
authorities :

1. " Private Records of Sam Houston's Administration of the Presidency of the
Republic, from 1841 to 1844." A most important written volume, the most val-
uable of Houston's literary remains.

2. C. Edwards Lester's " Houston and his Republic."

3. Hon. Ashbel Smith's " Reminiscences of the Texas Republic."

4. Col. V. O. King's " Battle of San Jacinto viewed from American and Mex-
ican Stand-points."


4 Preface.

5. Articles in "Texas Almanac" of 1859, viz.: (i) "Compendium of Early
History of Texas." (2) Gen. Sam Houston. (3) Life of Stephen F. Austin. (4)
Life of Gen. Edward Burleson. (5) Dr. N. D. Labadie's " San Jacinto Campaign
and Texan Revolution."

6. Col. Alexander Horton's " Sketch of War of '36," Eastern Texan, San
Augustine, Aug. i, 1857.

7. Letters of W. S. Taylor, Esq., and Gen. Sidney Sherman's Correspondence

8. Correspondence of W. M. Gilleland and R. J. Calder, Esqrs.

9. Correspondence of W. H. Dangerfield, Secretary of the Treasury, and
Minister to France.

10. Rev. H. S. Thrall's " History of Texas."

11. Yoakum's " History of Texas."

12. Gen. Waddy Thompson's "Recollections of Mexico."

13. A large mass of letters, pamphlets, and newspapers.

I have been aided by the kind counsels of many gentlemen ; es-
pecially by the Hon. Ashbel Smith, who prepared the very able
chapter on the Finances of Texas during Houston's Presidencies
and the Rev. Geo. W. Samson, D.D., now of New York City, who
furnished the chapters on Houston's Congressional Career. Dr.
Samson has furnished the main points of speeches which are not
placed among the State papers ; it would require a dozen volumes
to publish every document. Major Moses Austin Bryan has aided
me in important verbal statements. Prof. C. H. Wedemeyer and
my son, Royston Campbell Crane, also have given very valuable aid.
C. Edwards Lester, having written " Houston and his Republic,"
under the same roof in Washington City with Gen. Houston, and
Mrs. Houston having informed me that Gen. H. had told her that
Lester's book was the only reliable account of him then written, I
have taken his statements without question, and often used his lan-
guage, although consulting and comparing all varied statements
with his points of fact. While I have had the countenance and aid
of all Gen. Houston's children, I am especially indebted to his son-
in-law, W. L. Williams, Esq., and his lady, Mrs. Maggie Houston
Williams, and also to Temple Houston, Esq. I am largely indebted
to my lifelong friend, Dr. Samson, already alluded to, for assist-
ance in this work indispensable to its success.

The truth, without fear, favor, or affection, has been the only aim
in the preparation of this work. Little reference has been made
to the Santa Fe Expedition. Gen. Houston's relation to it was
mainly to save it from disaster. Let the people of Texas read
this volume with the earnest desire to obtain a satisfactory history
of the life, times, and labors of Sam Houston ; which it is believed
these pages will afford to the candid reader.


BAYLOR UNIVERSITY, Independence, Texas, Jan. 26, 1884.




Early History of Texas before the Battle of San Jacinto The Name
Spanish and French Efforts at Colonization Moses Austin and
his Colony of Three Hundred Families Stephen F. Austin Sam
Houston 9


Parentage and Early Life First Efforts in Education His Boy-life
among the Cherokee Indians 17


His Early Military Career Common Soldier, Orderly-Sergeant, En-
sign, Lieutenant Battle of Tohopeka Service under Gen. Coffee
and Gen. Andrew Jackson 24


Studies Law Admitted to the Bar Letters of S. V. Drake and F.
Golladay District Attorney Major-General Member of Congress
Governor First marriage Reasons for Leaving his first Wife
Departure to the Indians 31


Life among the Indians Wrongs done them His condemnation of
such Wrongs His Difficulty with Hon. Mr. Stansbury, of Ohio
The Caning Trial by House of Representatives and Courts of D. C. 39


Texas Struggling Houston's first Visit to Texas Letter to Gen.
Jackson Letter of John Van Fossen to Houston The Convention
at San Felipe de Austin Efforts to form Texas into a Constitu-
tional State of Mexico Houston in the Convention Austin, as a
Messenger to Mexico His 111 Success 46


Texas Triumphing Struggles under Austin and Houston Consulta-
tions and Collisions in Council Houston appointed Commander-in-
Chief Commission Revoked Grant's Effort to Capture Matamoras
Troubles connected with Gov. Henry Smith's Administration
Siege and Capture of San Antonio by Gen. Burleson Declaration
of Independence Houston again appointed Commander-in-Chief . 53


6 Contents.



The Alamo Goliad The Fall of one, the Massacre of the other
Movements of Gen. Houston, before and after these Memorable
Events Movements Preparatory to the Battle of San Jacinto . 62


Battle of San Jacinto The Hero Chieftain and the Hero Soldiers
Gen. Houston's Report Col. Robison's Report of Capture of Santa
Anna T. Houston's Address and Exercises at Unveiling of Memo-
rial Monument 77


Capture of Santa Anna Statement of Joel W. Robison, Esq. Intro-
duction of Santa Anna to Houston Conversation Scene with
Young Zavala Almonte Arrival of the Government ad interim
Houston Leaves the Army Goes to New Orleans for Medical
Aid The Cabinet Treats with Santa Anna Troubles Extract
from Hon. Ashbel Smith's Speech at Austin in 1879 ... 99


Houston's Election to the Presidency Departure of Santa Anna to
Washington City His Conduct Sent to Vera Cruz in a U. S. War
Vessel Memorandum of Gen. Houston for Santa Anna . . .116


Recognition of Texan Independence Close of Gen. Houston's First
Term as President Gen. Felix Huston Efforts to Conciliate the
Indians Mirabeau B. Lamar elected President . . . .124


The Succeeding Administration the Reverse of Houston's Houston
a Member of the Texan Congress Santa Fe Expedition and its
Result War on the Indians Letter to Anthony Butler Estimate
of the Patriotism and Public Virtues of M. B. Lamar and D. G.
Burnet .133


Gen. Houston's Second Presidential Term The Exchequer System of
Finance Annexation Rumors of Invasion by Mexico Veto of
Bill to make him Dictator The Excitement Appeal to the Great
Powers for Recognition of Independence . . . . . .139


Impressions produced by the Appeal to Great Powers Annexation
Correspondence with Hon. Mr. Van Zandt Attitude of the United
States, France, and England Views and Positions of President
Tyler . . 148

Contents. 7




Secret Message to the Texan Congress on Annexation . . . .153


Close of Houston's Second Term as President Resolutions of the
Senate Houston's Management of the Finances of Texas during
his two Administrations, and his Admirable Success A Review
and Explanation of the System 1 56


Houston's Entrance into the U. S. House of Representatives, Dec., 1823
His Contemporaries and the Questions of the Hour . . .166


Houston's Four Years in the House of Representatives, from 1823 to
1827 175


Houston's Entrance into the U. S. Senate, March, 1846 Questions of
the Day Movements of interest . . ." . . . .187


Houston in the U. S. Senate under President Polk, from March, 1846,
to March 4, 1849 193


Houston in the Senate under the Whig Administration, from 1849 to
1853 203

Houston in the Senate under President Pierce, from 1853 to 1857 . 215


Houston in the Senate under President Buchanan, from March 4, 1857,
till his Retirement, March 4, 1859 226


Career of Houston as Governqf of Texas State Measures Want of
Harmony between the Executive and the Legislature Secession
His Deposition from the Gubernatorial Office 231


Closing Days Resolutions of Texas House of Representatives

Soeech of Hon. J. H. Banton, of Walker Co. . . 236

8 Contents.



Gen. Houston's Religious Life Letter of Rev. Geo. W. Samson, D.D.
Statement of Rev. George W. Baines, Sr 240

Anecdotes Interesting Letter of Gen. E. G. W. Butler . . .246


Domestic Life of Sam Houston Mrs. Margaret Moffette Lea Houston
Poetry 253

General Estimate of Houston's Character 258


Texan Declaration of Independence March 2, 1836 Names of Signers . 263


Youthful Portrait Frontispiece, Vol. I.

Letter of Jackson, To face page 42

Santa Anna's Advance to San Jacinto, - ... " "70

Battle-Field of San Jacinto, " "80

Memorial to Santa Anna, " "122

Portrait in Age, . . . . . . . Frontispiece, Vol. II.



A MAP of North America, with the West India Islands, was pub-
lished in London, February, 1777. It was laid down according
to the latest surveys, and corrected from the original materials of
Governor Pownall, member of Parliament. On the region between
our north-eastern boundary and the Colorado, as laid down on that
map, the name TICAS is found in capital letters. It is assumed by
students in aboriginal and Spanish etymology, that Ticas is the same
as the present word Texas. The history of the discovery of Texas
has been in dispute. Yielding credit to authorities possessed of the
best means of giving true information, it will be admitted that early
Spanish navigators first discovered Texas, landed on its coast, and
laid claim to the country. Previously to 1595 they established settle-
ments on both sides of the Rio Grande. This was nearly one
hundred years before La Salle, the French navigator, then in search
of the mouth of .the Mississippi, was carried by errors of reckoning
out of his course, and landed on Matagorda Bay, February 18, 1685.
La Salle was a gallant knight, and claimed the country under the
name of his master, Louis XIV. Enterprising, firm, talented, he was
furnished by his king with a squadron of four vessels, manned by
300 men. Touching land first near Sabine Bay, making no discover-
ies, and obtaining no information from the Indians, La Salle pro-
ceeded westward, sailed through Pass Cavallo, and entered the Bay
of St. Bernard, now known by the same name. Wrecking unfortu-
nately one of his vessels in the attempt to land, he succeeded in
landing the men of the other three, and formed a camp on the west
side, near the entrance of the bay. Game and fish refreshed the new
comers. The country charmed them. They saw herds of deer and
buffalo grazing on the prairies, and innumerable wild flowers cover-
ing the earth. They were cheered by the warbling of wild birds in
the trees, and a sky clearer and brighter than Italy smiled upon
them. It was not strange that they fancied they had reached an
earthly paradise. But troubles with the Indians, supplies failing, sick-
ness thinning their numbers, disagreements between La Salle and his
leading men, the desertion of a captain leaving with a vessel carrying

10 Life of Sam Houston.

most of the ammunition back to France finally determined the
colonists to abandon this location and seek a new one on the La
Vaca River. Here a fort was erected named St. Louis, in honor of
Louis XIV. of France, and La Salle, adventurous in spirit, burning
with intense desire to ascertain the exact mouth of the Mississippi
River, soon after started to explore the vast regions between Texas
and Illinois. Enduring incredible hardships, and meeting with many
wild and romantic adventures, he was finally murdered by one of his
own men. Hearing of La Salle's death, the Indians attacked Fort
St. Louis, killed or scattered all the colonists, and this ended the
French attempt to found a colony in Texas. Early in 1686 the
Spaniards, holding possession of Mexico, heard of the efforts of the
French under La Salle to make settlements in Texas, and determined
to drive them out of the country. In 1689, an expedition of one
hundred men left the Spanish settlement of Monclova, and reached
Fort St. Louis on the La Vaca River. Finding it abandoned they
went into the country, where they found two of the French colonists
among the Cenis Indians ; taking them prisoners they sent them to
Mexico, condemned to work in the mines. Returning to Fort St.
Louis, the Mission of San Francisco was established, and priests and
friars commenced efforts to convert the Indians. The king of Spain
was determined to maintain possession of Texas and Cochinla, and
appointed a Governor, sent soldiers and priests to establish military
posts and missions, taking cattle for farm uses and seed for planting,
with them. Settlements were formed on Red, Nechos, and Guada-
lupe Rivers. These colonies, as well as that of San Francisco, began
early to decline. The Indians were hostile, crops failed, and the
cattle died. Although a first attempt at a settlement was made at
San Antonio de Bexar, by Spaniards, in 1692, all efforts for coloniza-
tion were abandoned in 1693, and Texas was once more without
European settlers. Little was done to settle Texas until 1715. Per-
manent occupation by Spain may date from this year. La Bahia, or
Goliad, was settled in 1716, Nacogdoches in 1732, and Victoria soon
afterward. Efforts were made in good earnest to found colonies, to
establish missions, and by arms, agriculture, and arts to extend and
to establish Spanish influence and laws over the whole country
Prosperity did not attend these efforts and sacrifices ; as may be
evinced by the fact, that the entire population in Texas in 1745 did
not exceed fifteen hundred people, with perhaps an equal number of
Indians. The fearful butchery of priests, soldiers, and Indian con-
verts at San Saba, by hostile Indians not leaving one alive to tell
the tale in 1758, caused Spanish missions in Texas everywhere to
decline. Until 1821, the old Spanish settlements continued to be
surrounded by savage Indians, and Texas was, for the most part, an

Spanish History of Texas. 11

unexplored wilderness. During the American Revolution, of which
the 4th of July is the memorial day, the Spanish possessions of
Mexico and Texas remained in quiet. Texas was safe from danger ;
her harbors were almost unknown ; her property offered no tempta-
tion to pillage, and her scattered population could afford no recruits.
The Spanish settlement at Natchez had opened a trade with Texas
through Nacogdoches. This road had become familiar to many
besides the Spaniards. Traders on their return would make reports
to the Americans in and around Natchez, of the advantages of trade
in Texas, the surpassing beauty and richness of the country, the
abundance of game, and the numerous other attractions to advent-
urers. Thus, about the beginning of the present century, the tide
of trade and travel began to take the direction of this new country.
The town of Nacogdoches soon became a place of much importance ;
many persons of wealth and education emigrated from Louisiana to
that place. The old missionary station became a town ; arsenal, bar*
racks, and substantial buildings, some of which are still standing,
were erected. And, although the Spaniards held "the country for up-
wards of one hundred and fifty years, little now exists in Texas to
remind us of their rule, except the names which they gave to many
towns and rivers. In 1810 to 1812 there was a military expedition,
composed of American volunteers, intended to aid Mexico in its
revolt from Spain. This expedition proceeded as far as San Antonio
River. Parties passed to and fro from this expedition for more than
two years. The founder of the town of Washington on the Brazos,
Capt. Jack Hall, was one of the expedition. It is now generally
believed that all that part of Texas known in common parlance as
the white settlements, was thoroughly explored by American ad-
venturers previous to Austin's colonial enterprise.

Although Mexico was still under the sway of Spain, Moses Austin,
a native of Connecticut, for a while a resident in Virginia, then a
citizen of Missouri, succeeded, after various rebuffs and adverse
courses of action, in concluding a proposition with' Don Antonio
Martinez, Governor of the province of Texas, for the settlement of
three hundred families within the limits of Texas. The Governor
had treated Moses Austin, at San Antonio de Bexar, very ungraciously,
and even ordered him to leave the province without delay. He
retired from the government house resolved to leave San Antonio de
Bexar within the hour. As he crossed the plaza he accidentally met
a gentleman with whom, many years before, he spent a night at a
country tavern in one of the Southern States. This gentleman was
the Baron de Bastrop. When together, they had conversed freely,
and had thus acquired some knowledge of each other, both being
men of enterprise and of much experience. Now, when they unex-

] 2 Life of Sam Houston.

pectedly met on the plaza, their recognition was instant. The Baron
invited Moses Austin to his house, where the latter, in a few words,
explained to him the object of his visit to San Antonio, and informed
him of his interview with the Governor and of its consequences.
The Baron entered immediately into the spirit of the enterprise,
waited on the Governor, informed him that Austin was his friend,
and enlisted the aid of influential citizens. At the end of a week the
objections of the Governor were removed, and a promise secured to
recommend Austin's proposition to the favorable consideration of the
Commandant General, Don Joaquin Arredondo, and the Provincial
Deputation of the Eastern Internal Provinces, holding sessions at
Monterey, and sharing with the Commandant General the govern-
ment of the Eastern Provinces of New Spain. These efforts proved
successful. Shortly after his return to Missouri he had the pleasure
of hearing officially from Governor Martinez, that his propositions
had been favorably received at Monterey, and that he was at liberty
to commence his settlement in Texas immediately. He commenced
preparations to return to Texas, giving notice to all who wished to
accompany him, to meet him in Nachitoches, La., in the latter part
of May, 1821, and proceed with him on his way to the Brazos and
Colorado. But he was taken sick about the first of June, at the
house of his daughter, Mrs. James Bryan, well known in Texas as
Mrs. James F. Perry, and died in his daughter's arms, on the loth of
June, 1821, in the fifty-seventh year of his age. His family consisted
at this time of his wife, who survived him about three years, of his
daughter, Mrs. Bryan,* already named, of his son, Stephen F., then in
New Orleans, and of a younger son, James Brown Austin, then at
school in Kentucky, and afterward well known in Texas. On his
death-bed, Moses Austin declared it to be his earnest desire that his
son, Stephen F. Austin, should endeavor to have himself recognized
by the Spanish authorities in Texas, as his representative, and that
he should carry forward the enterprise of colonization. The son
undertook the great and noble work of carrying out his father's
plans. He was born in Virginia, had been well educated, and had
served with Hon. Thomas H. Benton in the Territorial Legislature
of Missouri. With the first Anglo-American settlers he arrived on
Brazos River, December, 1821. He camped with his party on a small
creek, near the present town of Brenham, on the first day of January,
1822, and from that circumstance called the creek New Year's, a
name it bears at this time. He explored the country watered by the
Guadalupe, Colorado, and Brazos Rivers, and laid out the town of
San Felipe de Austin, on the Brazos. He did not succeed in getting

* Mother of Major Moses Austin Bryan and Hon. Guy M. Bryan.

Early American Settlers in Texas. 13

a confirmation at the City of Mexico, after the declaration of Mexican
independence, of his authority to locate a colony, until he had, with
two or three companions, made the perilous journey* of 1,200
miles, on horseback, to the capital of Mexico, and had been de-
tained there one year during the repeated changes of government,
by which all supreme authority in Mexico was agitated and disturbed.
From this time settlements began to be made, as fast as lands were
designated by the surveyors appointed.

Col. Jared E. Groce and Judge John P. Cole were the first to come
to the east side of the Brazos in the winter of 1821-1822. Sam Gates,
William Gates, Amos Gates (living August, 1881), James Whitesides
and Josiah H. Bell came to the Brazos in the year 1822-1823. The
first Mexican Civil Government was organized by Don Juan Antonio
Sancedo, Political Chief of the Province of Texas. His proclama-
tion, May 20, 1824. issued at San Felipe de Austin, assuming command
of the colony is brief and sensible. His duty would be to appoint as
many Alcaldes (Justices of the Peace) as may be necessary for the
accommodation of the people and to command the militia. He
appointed Stephen F. Austin, Political Chief and Judge, until the
Ayuntamiento should be organized. The first land titles were issued
in July, 1824. The first surveyor was Baron de Bastrop, appointed
commissioner to issue land titles by Governor Luciano Garcia, in the
summer of 1823. The first settlements in Austin's Colony were made
in different places simultaneously, dispersed over a large area, from
Burleson County as now laid down upon the map to the Gulf of
Mexico, and from the La Vaca to the San Jacinto.

From this period may date the American history of Texas. The
Mexican Government passed colonization laws and held out other in-
ducements to citizens of the United States, to settle within the limits
of Texas, guaranteeing all rights, liberties, and immunities of Mexi-

Online LibraryWilliam Carey CraneLife and select literary remains of Sam Houston, of Texas → online text (page 1 of 86)