Tag Archives: Sam Houston

Today in Texas History – March 8

The Alamo and Goliad. - ppt video online download

From the Annals of the Revolution – In 1836, Col. James W. Fannin raised a flag over the mission at La Bahia in Goliad with the words “Liberty or Death”.  Fannin, now generally regarded as an inept commander who had lost the confidence of his men, was prophetic in his announcement.  Unfortunately for Fannin and his men it would by “Death.”  In fairness to Fannin, he was facing Mexican General Jose de Urrea – by far the best of the Mexican commanders. If Urrea had been in command during the revolution, it is very likely to have been easily suppressed.  Urrea’s forces were never defeated in battle during the war and remained ready to fight after the Battle of San Jacinto. Fannin was originally ordered by Sam Houston to relieve the Alamo and then later ordered to retreat to Victoria.  He delayed in his retreat and during that action he was cornered on open ground with limited supplies and forced to surrender.  Held back at Goliad, Fannin and his men were massacred on the orders of Gen. Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna.  Urrea strongly objected to executing prisoners of war, but the order was carried out by subordinates.  Fannin was among the last to be shot.

Today in Texas History – February 7

From the Annals of the Code Duello – In 1837, to Generals of the Texas Army faced off in a duel for command of the Army. Brig. Gen. Albert Sidney Johnston was wounded in the pelvis by Brig. Gen. Felix Huston.  President Sam Houston had ordered Johnston to replace Huston as commander of the Texas Army.  Huston had attracted a large group of adventurers and undisciplined troops to the Army and Sam Houston believed that under his command the Army would not be able to repel the seemingly imminent invasion from Mexico.  Huston was offended by the lack of confidence in his leadership.  Even though he professed admiration for ASJ, he felt compelled to challenge him to a duel.  Observers claimed that Johnston refused to fire. Johnston’s wound was so severe that he was unable to take command.  Some believe that his wound in the duel caused nerve damage such that he was unable to detect that he had been shot during the Battle of Shiloh.  ASJ died after the battle from loss of blood – his wound had not been fatal.  Huston eventually moved to New Orleans where he opened a law practice and became an ardent secessionist.

Today in Texas History – January 29

From the Annals of the Abolitionists – In 1844, President Sam Houston granted an empresario contract to abolitionist Charles Fenton Mercer to establish a colony in the Republic of Texas.  A Virginia native, CFM had a distinguished career as an Lt. Colonel of a Virginia regiment in the War of 1812, member of the Virginia House of Delegates, U.S. Congressman for over 20 years, and head of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Co. He was a dedicated abolitionist and instrumental in attempting to resettle free African-Americans in Africa – a now discredited belief as a solution to slavery among many abolitionists of the time.   After retiring from public service, Mercer became interested in obtaining an empresario license in Texas – making seven trips to the new nation.  Houston granted him a contract for a colony east of Peter’s Colony but only after vetoing a bill that would have restricted the President’s rights in that regard.  Mercer’s contract was always controversial because of his well-known abolitionist sentiments. Nonetheless, he organized the Texas Association and began selling shares for $500 each. By the end of the year, more than 100 families had complied with the requirements of his contract and received land certificates. Land disputes and court cases, however, proved top be too much of a burden on Mercer’s time and finances. In 1852 he assigned his interest in the contract to George Hancock of Kentucky and other members of the Texas Association, receiving in return an annuity of $2,000.

Today in Texas History – November 16

From the Annals of the Treaties –  In 1845, the Republic of Texas signed its final Indian treaty. The agreement came at the end of the Tehuacana Creek Councils, which had commenced in the spring of 1843.  Pioneer Jesse Chisholm had worked to convince a number of Indian groups, including the Caddos, Tawakonis, Delawares, Lipan Apaches, and Tonkawas, to meet on the Tehuacana Creek near the Torrey Brothers trading post south of Waco.

The next council met at Fort Bird on the Trinity River in the fall of 1843. These councils resulted in a peace treaty between the Republic and the Wacos and Caddos.  The failure to reach an accord with the Comanche caused President Sam Houston to call another council to meet at Tehuacana Creek in April 1844.  The Comanche were yet again missing.  In October 9, 1844, Houstonnegotiated a treaty with a part of the southern Comanche, Kichais, Waco, Caddos, Anadarkos, Hainais, Delawares, Shawnees, Cherokees, Lipan Apaches, and Tawakonis. At the November 1845 council the Wacos, Tawakonis, Kichais, and Wichitas agreed to the treaty of October 9, 1844.  The Comanche continued fighting for another 30 years.

Today in Texas History – October 3

From the Annals of the Republic –   In 1842, President Sam Houston ordered Alexander Somervell to organize the militia and volunteers and invade Mexico.  The call for volunteers was answered by about 700 men who were eager to avenge punitive raids made by Mexico earlier that year.  The expedition left San Antonio on November 25 capturing Laredo on December 8.   The expedition quickly began to break up as approximately 185 returned home.  Somervell continued on and with a little over 500 men seized Guerrero.   By December 19, Somervell realized that further action would likely be disastrous and ordered his men to disband and return home by way of Gonzales.  A large contingent of 308 men disobeyed the order.  This group commanded by William S. Fisher continued to Mexico on the predictably ill-fated Mier Expedition.  That raid ended with the capture of the majority of the expedition and execution of seventeen men.

Today in Texas History – September 5

Image result for sam houston 1836

From the Annals of the Republic – In 1836, Sam Houston was elected as the first president of the Republic of Texas. Mirabeau B. Lamar was elected as vice president.  Houston defeated Stephen F. Austin and Henry Smith with 79% of the vote.  Austin was initially the front-runner in the race over Smith, who had been provisional governor and a delegate at Washington-on-the-Brazos when Texas declared its independence.  Despite his renown today, Austin was not widely known across Texas and his reputation had been sullied by connections to land speculator Samuel May Williams.  Houston did not declare his candidacy until eleven days before the election, but once he did, victory was all but inevitable. Houston was inaugurated on October 22, 1836, replacing interim president David G. Burnet.  After annexation, Houston would later serve as Texas’ senator and governor.  He was the only person to have been elected governor of two different U.S. states, as well as the only state governor to have been a foreign head of state.

Today in Texas History – February 22

From the Annals of the Revolution –  In 1836, former Mexican soldier Nepomuceno Navarro joined forces with the Texas Revolution when he enlisted in Juan N. Seguín’s company of Tejanos. Navarro had been a private serving in the Mexican Army at Bexar and later at Fort Tenoxtitlan on the Brazos River.  He left the Army in 1832 and settled in San Antonio.  Seguin’s company served as the rear guard for the main body of Sam Houston’s army. Navarro also served with Seguín at the battle of San Jacinto. For his participation in the Texas Revolution he received land grants and a pension. He was a member of the Texas Veterans Association until his death, in San Antonio in 1877.

Today in Texas History – February 7

From the Annals of Stupidity –  In 1837, Brigadier General Felix Huston wounded his superior officer General Albert Sidney Johnston in a duel.  President Sam Houston had sent Johnston to replace Huston as commander of the Texas army.  Huston considered Houston’s rebuke to impugn his honor such that, despite his respect for Johnston, he made a challenge.  Even though Johnston was in charge of enforcing the strict no dueling policy of the Texas Army, he accepted the challenge.

The two Fighting Kentuckians met near the Lavaca River in Jackson County under a large oak tree that has become known as Dueling Oak.  Huston was an expert marksman which prompted Johnston’s second to propose that the duelists agree to shoot from the hip to lessen the chances that ASJ would be seriously injured.

Johnston waited until Huston took aim before firing his own pistol, hoping to distract the excellent shot.  The ploy failed and each man fired three times.  The affair ended when ASJ was shot through the hip on the third volley. The attending physician told ASJ that he was going to die as the ball had hit the sciatic nerve.

Magnanimous in victory, Huston offered condolences and pledged to serve under ASJ’s command.  For his part, Johnston is reputed to have never held the foolish duel against Huston even though his recovery took several months and temporarily prevented him from assuming command according to Sam Houston’s wishes.  Perhaps admonished by his actions, Huston left the Army shortly afterwards and returned to the United States.

Photo of the Dueling Oak from http://www.texasforestservice.tamu.edu.


Today in Texas History – January 24

From the Annals of Best Intentions –  In 1845, the Texas Senate ratified a peace treaty between Anglo settlers and 11 Native American tribes.  The treaty was negotiated by Sam Houston whose attitudes towards Native Americans was markedly different than that of the general public based on his years of living with the Cherokee.  Houston hoped that the treaty would usher in a new era of peaceful relations between the Anglo-Texan settlers and the tribes still in control of vast areas of the Republic.  Had Texas remained an independent country the outcome could have been different.  However, with statehood all Indian affairs became the responsibility of the federal government and any chance of peace with the most aggressive tribes such as the Comanche, Kiowa and Wichita was gone.

Image of Sam Houston in Cherokee clothing.

Today in Texas History – October 13

From the Annals of Statehood –  In 1845, Texas voters approved annexation of Texas as a new member of the United States.  Voters also approved a new state constitution and the annexation ordinance. 

The annexation of Texas was part of a much larger political game between the free and slave states and between the pro-slavery Democrats and the anti-slavery Whigs.  In 1843, U.S. President John Tyler decided to pursue the annexation of Texas as part of his political platform for another four years in office.  Tyler claimed that he was attempting to  outmaneuver the British government’s alleged plans to recognize Texas as an independent state in exchange for emancipation of slaves.  Tyler believed this would undermine slavery in the US.  Through secret negotiations with Sam Houston’s administration, Tyler secured a treaty of annexation in April 1844.   Now in the public eye, the terms of annexation and Texas’ admission to the Union took center stage in the election of 1844. Pro-Texas-annexation southern Democratic delegates denied their anti-annexation leader Martin Van Buren of New York the nomination at their party’s convention in May 1844.  Instead, the Democrats nominated James K. Polk who ran on a pro-Texas Manifest Destiny platform.

In June 1844, the Senate, with its Whig majority rejected the Texas Annexation Treaty.  But Polk narrowly defeated anti-annexation Whig Henry Clay in the fall.   This opened the door for lame-duck Tyler to ask Congress to revisit Texas annexation which it did.  The last major act of the Tyler administration was to sign the Texas Annexation bill.