"The world here are all agog to know what has transpired in Washington between Genl Jackson & Genl Santa Anna..."Sam Houston Autograph Letter Signed "Sam Houston" as President of Texas, four pages, 8.5" x 11", front and verso. Columbia, Texas, February 22, 1837. To his cousin, John H. Houston. John lived in Washington, D.C., working in the Jackson administration. He begins this letter "My dear Houston." In part, "E're this you have had the 'Lyon of the day' with you, and doubtless you were in company with him. I trust some good may have resulted to our country for the course which I adopted in relation to him. The world here are all agog to know what has transpired in Washington between Genl Jackson & Genl Santa Anna. Something doubtless of great importance to the citizens of each country. You cannot come to me for the present but I hope at some day to see you with my dear Cousin Gertrude, Sweet Mary, and all the little ones in our 'fairy land.' Should we have peace there is no region on this Globe where I would so soon see my friends located as in Texas. It is extensive and it is adaptable to every pursuit or employment. The soil, the climate, the atmosphere, the water, and every variety of productions will insure to those who transfer a moderate fortune to this country, boundless wealth and every comfort which a national existence can anticipate or require, I have never held out lures to my friends to emigrate who had families because you will know that I foresaw the present crisis and wou'd not be uncandid nor unkind to my friends. I hope the storm will soon pass over, and the sunshine of peace illumine our way while our children will watch in pleasure around the peaceful hearths of their anxious Parents. Jack! I have none of these small cares nor do I anticipate them shortly. By the bye, Mrs Houston spent the winter of 35 in the city. Why did you never write to me at length about this matter and tell me all the news? You are an idle fellow and if we ever meet I will have to give you a fair Lot in the 'City of Houston' Provided you will improve it handsomely and --- live on it!...This evening I intend to write to Major Lewis for whom I do feel most kindly and affectionately. The interest which he has taken in behalf of Texas as well as in my individual behalf has placed me under eternal obligations, and I wou'd have written to him much but for great perplexity, and a want of time! You will not fail to commend me to him and the Venerable Old Chief as well as the President and Vice President elect! Give cousin & Mary a brother & a fathers kisses and all the cousins. When you write to Phila my regards to Dr and Madame Nancrede with Sam! Salute all my friends with affection...Tell Mary to puff our land, and if we have peace it is worth $50 per acre...Very truly yr affectionate Kinsman." In a postscript along the blank left edge on the first page, Houston has penned "Dear Friend, I have this moment heard of the death of the Excellent Mrs. Nancrede! H."
John H. Houston and Gertrude Truxton, daughter of Commodore Thomas Truxton, were married in 1825. Their daughter, Mary Truxton Houston, was born in 1826. Their son, Sam Houston, was born in 1827. Gertrude's sister Cornelia had married Dr. Joseph G. Necrede in Philadelphia in 1822. They had no children. They adopted Sam Houston and renamed him Samuel Joseph G. Necrede. Gertrude and John H. Houston had another four daughters and two sons. The "Mrs. Nancrede" mentioned in the postscript of this letter was Dr. Nancrede's mother. Major William B. Lewis, a staunch supporter of Texas, was President Jackson's longtime friend and advisor; he had served as Second Auditor of the Treasury since 1830. The "Venerable Old Chief" was, of course, President Jackson and the President and Vice President elect were Martin Van Buren and Richard M. Johnson. They would be sworn in 10 days after Houston wrote this letter. He refers to the "City of Houston" which was founded just six months earlier. The Texas Congress chose Houston to be the temporary capital of the republic and the government moved there from Columbia in April 1837.
On July 4, 1836, Mexican Pres. Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna wrote Pres. Jackson from Columbia, Texas, that "The chances of war, made inevitable by circumstances, reduced me to the condition of a prisoner, in which I still remain...The disposition evinced by General Samuel Houston, the Commander-in-chief of the Texian Army...for the termination of the war - the decision of the President and Cabinet of Texas in favor of a proper compromise between the contending parties, and my own conviction, produced the conventions of which I send you copies enclosed..." Santa Anna desires to return to Mexico under the terms of the conventions but incidents in his country opposed to the ending of the war have made it impossible. "The continuation of the war, and of its disasters, is therefore inevitable, unless the voice of reason be heard, in proper time, from the mouth of some powerful individual. It appears to me that you, sir, have it in your power to perform this good office, by interfering in favor of the execution of the said convention, which shall be strictly fulfilled on my part. When I offered to treat with this Government, I was convinced that it was useless for Mexico to continue the war..." The conventions referred to were the Treaties of Velasco drafted on May 14, 1836. Santa Anna's letter was forwarded to Pres. Jackson by Texas Pres. Sam Houston who undoubtedly read it. Houston also enclosed his own letter. In his September 4th reply, Jackson wrote "The great object of these communications appears to be to put an end to the disasters which necessarily attend the civil war now raging in Texas and asking the interposition of the United States in furthering so humane and desirable a purpose...In reference, however, to the agreement which you, as the representative of Mexico, have made with Texas, and which invite the interposition of the United States, you will at once see that we are forbidden, by the character of the communications made to us thro' the Mexican Minister, from considering it. That Government has notified us that, as long as you are a prisoner, no act of yours will be regarded as binding by the Mexican authorities...If, however, Mexico should signify her willingness to avail herself of our good offices in bringing about the desirable result you have described, nothing could give me more pleasure than to devote my best services to it...
On November 22, 1836, Santa Anna informed the Mexican Minister of War that he had obtained his liberty and was going to Washington. Houston freed Santa Anna on the condition that he pay a visit to Pres. Jackson. He arrived in Washington in January. The N. York Journal of Commerce reported from Washington on January 26th that "General Santa Anna's business with the President has, after several conferences, been brought to a conclusion...A vessel of war was ordered last night to be fitted out for Vera Cruz immediately. It is intended to send a special Minister to Mexico with an offer of our mediation in the Texian contest and to allow the Mexican President to take his passage in the same vessel." The Connecticut Courant reported on March 25, 1837 that "Santa Anna arrived at Vera Cruz on the 21st February, where he was received rather coldly. He addressed the citizens, and stated that his deliverance was entirely owing to the liberal feeling of Gen. Houston. He then left for his estate...Santa Anna's term of Presidency expires on the 1st of April; it appears, however, that he will not repair to the capital to fill the station for the short unexpired term." On March 11, 1837, Santa Anna wrote his Minister of War "There were three powerful reasons for my journey to Washington, two of which were, as a matter of fact, essential, while the third was one of public convenience. It was necessary not to alarm the Texans but rather to try to confirm the opinion of my willingness to favor their plans. It was neither safe nor prudent to go to New Orleans where I would expose myself to being subjected to new insults, since that port has been the center of activity for the rebellious colonists. I could not return directly to Veracruz because there was no communication between that port and the rest of Texas. Lastly, it was very expedient that I could approach the cabinet at Washington to observe at close range its real attitude towards Texas and towards us. The six days of my stay there were used for this purpose. General Jackson expressed to me his desire of continuing the friendly relations that bind the two nations; and very kindly furnished me transportation in a war vessel."
A truly extraordinary letter of Sam Houston extolling the virtues of living in Texas "should we have peace," anxiously awaiting word on what "transpired in Washington between Genl Jackson & Genl Santa Anna," offering to give his cousin "a fair Lot in the 'City of Houston,' and concluding with regards to Andrew Jackson, "the Venerable Old Chief, as well as the President and Vice President elect." Written just a day before the first anniversary of Santa Anna's entry into San Antonio and the first day of the siege of the Alamo, the letter has been expertly repaired, mostly in blank areas, with archival tissue. It is in very fine condition.
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