Description

    Sam Houston Autograph Letter Signed "Sam Houston" as U.S. Senator, five full pages, 7.75" x 9.75", front and verso. Senate Chamber, February 4, 1852. To Gideon Welles. In part, "Although I am very hasty, I can not deny myself the pleasure of thanking you for your favor. I do so with greater pleasure because you write frankly and freely what you think. You are right in your views, touching the Temperance movement...You need not fear for I will undertake to wade no stream, unless I can see the bottom. It would not only be unwise but impertinent in me to interfere in the Legislation of any state upon any subject. When I accepted the invitation to attend the 'Banquet' in New York, I was at home, and did not anticipate that it could ever become connected with politics. I will regret to see any influences ingrafted upon our great political system. We have principles enough to ingraft all the minds of statesmen and employ all their faculties. To these, I wish to direct all my capacity of usefulness to my country!...I will not yield my principles to any Schism, which as a private and humble citizen, I would condemn in a public man or public agent. My friend Ned is fearful that I may sustain injury by presenting the Medal to Mr Dow...I have had the responsibility placed upon me, without my knowledge and I assure you, without the least desire. It is upon me and I must discharge it...Commend me to our friend Burr and say to him that I had no distrust of any of my friends but I thought as you suggested that might be best for the matters of Texas History to appear in the Union first...For now, I can only say as reported here that Genl Scott & Gov Jones of Tennessee are to form the Whig ticket for 1852. Our Great men are greasing their Omnibus wheels so that they can convey passengers at cheap rates. Salute our friends, & write soon! Truly thy Friend. Sam Houston." Sam Houston was a staunch supporter of the temperance movement which amused many of his old friends. In earlier years, Houston was a heavy drinker. In fact, during the years he lived with the Cherokee, one of his Indian names was Oo-tse-tee Ar-dee-tah-skee (Big Drunk). In 1851, Mayor Neal Dow of Portland, Maine, wrote a proposed law prohibiting the manufacture, sale, and keeping for sale of intoxicating liquors, except for medicinal and mechanical purposes and the arts. He took his bill to the state legislature at Augusta where it was introduced in both houses, easily passed and, on June 2, 1851, signed into law by the Governor. On February 18, 1852, two weeks after Houston wrote this letter from Washington, at Metropolitan Hall in New York City, the National Temperance Society held its "First Annual Banquet." Guests included P.T. Barnum, Horace Mann, and Rev. Henry Ward Beecher. A notice placed in the February 10, 1852 edition of The New York Times about the banquet announced that "At the conclusion, Gen. S. Houston, of Texas, in behalf of the National Temperance Society, will present a splendid gold medal to Hon. Neal Dow, the author and champion of the Maine Law." Alfred E. Burr was editor of The Hartford Times from 1839-1900, a newspaper founded by Gideon Welles in 1826. Evidently Houston wrote an article relating to Texas that Welles felt should first be published in the Union, a New Haven newspaper. By February, many Whig state caucuses had passed resolutions supporting a Scott-Jones ticket. Three months later, Tennessee Governor James C. Jones wrote to the Whig congressional caucus that he was not interested in the Vice Presidency: "I have never sought the place, I do not seek it; I have never wanted it, do not now want it...I am content with the position I have." In June, the Whigs nominated General Winfield Scott for President and Navy Secretary William A. Graham of North Carolina for Vice President. The Compromise of 1850 was compared to an omnibus because it was considered to be a vehicle for all kinds of passengers. In a passionate speech on the floor of the Senate in support of the "Omnibus Bill," Houston proclaimed "A nation divided against itself cannot stand," used by Lincoln eight years later, replacing "nation" with "nation." It was endorsed by the Democrats in the 1852 campaign. In this letter Houston refers to the "Great men" of his party getting ready for the campaign, "greasing their Omnibus wheels," with the "passengers" being the voters. The New-York Daily Times reported from Washington on May 31, 1852 on the tight race between Buchanan and Cass for the Democratic presidential nomination concluding that "From present appearances the brunt of the contest will be between [Stephen] Douglas and [Sam] Houston. Each of them is the second choice of many coteries whose first preferences are for other men." Sam Houston received at least one delegate's vote on all 49 ballots at the convention which eventually nominated Franklin Pierce. Gideon Welles was a Jacksonian Democrat but he abandoned the Democrats in 1848 and supported Van Buren's Free Soil campaign. Mainly because of his strong anti-slavery views, Welles shifted allegiance in 1854 to the newly-established Republican Party. A strong supporter of Lincoln in 1860, Welles was named to his cabinet and served as Secretary of the Navy from 1861-1869. Sam Houston's letter is fresh and clean and in very fine condition.

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    December, 2007
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