“Some of you laugh to scorn the idea of bloodshed as the result of secession, but let me tell you what is coming….Your fathers and husbands, your sons and brothers, will be herded at the point of the bayonet….You may after the sacrifice of countless millions of treasure and hundreds of thousands of lives, as a bare possibility, win Southern independence…but I doubt it. I tell you that, while I believe with you in the doctrine of state 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. “
Sam Houston, 1861
One hundred and seventy-nine years ago Sam Houston was inaugurated as the first President of the Republic of Texas. This was only one of many roles Houston assumed during his tempestuous life: husband, father, soldier, lawyer, Congressman from Tennessee, Governor of Tennessee, drunk, adopted Cherokee, Major General of the Texas Army, President of the Republic of Texas, Texas Representative, Senator from Texas, but perhaps his greatest role was at the end as Governor of Texas in 1859-1861. As secession fever built in Texas at the end of 1860 he stumped the state vigorously, although he knew it was hopeless, arguing against secession which he viewed as an unmitigated disaster for Texas and the nation.
“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.”
“I declare that civil war is inevitable and is near at hand. When it comes the descendants of the heros of Lexington and Bunker Hill will be found equal in patriotism, courage and heroic endurance with the descendants of the heroes of Cowpens and Yorktown. For this reason I predict the civil war which is now at hand will be stubborn and of long duration.”
All his arguments were in vain. When called upon to take an oath of loyalty to the Confederacy he refused:
“In the name of the constitution of Texas, which has been trampled upon, I refuse to take this oath. I love Texas too well to bring civil strife and bloodshed upon her.”
He was deposed from office on March 15, 1861. Houston died on July 26, 1863, with his wife Margaret by his side. He had never ceased to bemoan the Civil War raging throughout the nation. His last words were “Texas! Texas! Margaret.”