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Sam Houston Against Disunion

Learning from Past Mistakes

Portrait of Sam Houston

Have you ever had an unpopular opinion? Here's a famous one from Texas. Sam Houston stands with his convictions to have Texas remain as a part of the Union States. The uproars of those who seek to separate under the guise of protecting their own properties are called out and dismissed as Sam Houston, despite being ill at the time, gave his Anti-Secession Speech on September 22, 1860. Sam feels strongly that such an action would undo everything for which the state and its people have worked tirelessly with sacrifice of the highest degree. The Union was, of course, a vital tool by the Texans which Houston himself fought with to defeat the foreign power of the Mexican Government. He reiterates that the Union and its structured government has turned Texas into a dense and stable empire which has continued to prosper under the protection of an army and navy. The actions of the secessionists will only foster bad reputations with foreign powers all around the world because the basis of their actions is rooted in the protection of slavery. 

Sam Houston points out in his speech that not even the British would form alliances with the South due to the North's power and the history that England shares with the Union States. During this time, Texas is polarized between friends of the Constitution and friends to the Southern dis-unionists. Sam knows that talks of joining the Confederacy will soon lead to a great war which will cost the state's reputation and resources. The state of Texas is one that succeeds when its people have been unified for a single cause (ironically, the defense of the Texas coastline from Union battleships was proof of this). I believe that in hindsight, Sam Houston's efforts were not in vain because surely other Texans without his reputation and prestige still sympathized with his cause of loyalty to the Union's Constitution. It is true, however, that about one-third of the Texan population was composed of slaves who worked in absolute servitude to Anglo masters. These masters would not be so contempt with losing their workforce and in turn lose their fortunes in the process. Speech or no speech, the secessionists would have their money secured even if it meant the loss of blood and men from their own neighborhoods. 

I feel as though in this time the tensions between the two sides of Texas were very passionate. The term brother against brother could not have been more true than it was in Texas (we Texans are all about putting everything on the table). Sam Houston took a great gamble with his life and reputation when he made this speech. His own history proves that Sam has deep roots in the issue of succession. Sam's cause was not just of preserving Unionship. Sam Houston was also an advocate of what Mr. Lincoln wished to do with the Union. This was to preserve the Constitution and abide by its laws if Lincoln should ever falter in his actions. The confederacy would not abide by such tenures of democracy. It would instead rest its morals and actions on the preservation of slavery and the oppression of the black man. I truly admire what Sam Houston is doing. He sees the whole picture rather than some secessionists who only see the loss of fortunes and labor. Sam Houston points out that Mexico lies to the west of Texas as a potential adversary when war breaks out among the states. Mexico could cause serious damage if Texas was to side with the Confederacy. He feels that the Union would provide a much better shield against such aggression. The feelings of opposition may be running high within the state of Texas, but through the talks of abolition, Sam Houston remains a persuasive and just voice for the good of the state. I think that Texans had no choice in the matter of succession because the wealthy and powerful interests had already made the decision to side with Jefferson Davis. He had the backing of the top elites who controlled cotton industries abroad and intentionally. The small man of Texas could not just stand tall against the such agendas when he himself has a piece of subjugated labor at their own disposal. 

Taking this fact into account, the succession of Texas was inevitable. The persuasion of fortune and preservation of slave labor was at its core of the southern powers. The Civil War was debated strongly by Sam Houston because he was a man out of time, looking to past mistakes and learning from them in the interest of the Texas he fought and lost for. I can only hope that Sam Houston would know as he died that his words would go infamously into Texas history and be remembered by courageous students like myself.  

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