Skip to main content
Go to accessibility notice


    Sam Houston Letter Press Copy of an Autograph Letter Signed to President-elect Franklin Pierce. Seven pages, 8.25" x 12.5". Washington, D.C.; January 28, 1853. A letter from Houston to President-elect Franklin Pierce offering advice and urging him to select a cabinet free from political influences. Houston writes Pierce as a "member of the Democratic party, of which you have been the standard bearer in the recent election. A sincere desire to see the principles of the party triumph, united with respect for your character induced me with cheerfulness and sincerity to use all fair and honorable [success?] to secure the election of the democratic nominees to the Presidency and Vice Presidency. The success was triumphant, and I am happy to congratulate you upon the result."

    After congratulating Pierce on his election, Houston proceeds to offer his advice concerning the makeup of cabinet and ends the letter by making it clear he is not asking for any position for himself.

    "From what I hear around me in relation to the who are to compose your Cabinet I have ground to suppose that various individual are pressed upon your notice by numerous gentleman each clamoring for their respective favorites, places in your cabinet....No one, I presume, will deny a proposition so self evident, as that the President, is to be responsible to the American people for the character and acts of the gentlemen who compose his Cabinet. From my observation in life I have come to the conclusion that as the President is responsible for the actions of his cabinet, the right to select its members, independent of all extraneous influences is a conceded point....The relations between the Executive and his Cabinet are of a delicate confidential character. He desires for his confidential advisors, those on whom he has unbounded reliance. They ought not only to harmonize touching political subjects, but a personal intimacy and respect should exist between all members. So one can as properly judge of the important and delicate relations as the Executive himself. If he has not full confidence in the members of his Cabinet, harmony cannot exist, and suspicions once entertained, would embarrass not only the Executive but clog the measures which he might think most important to the country's prosperity. If he selects gentlemen whose personal and political relations he approves, the consequence will be that they will feel that they owe their selection to him, and their allegiance will be...given to him alone and not to others. Their feelings of esteem and gratitude toward him will be a guaranty of their fidelity and their efforts will be united in maintenance of the principles which he represents, and the success of his measures.

    If he were to select his cabinet upon the recommendation of others, those who are selected would be aware of the influence which had been exercised in their behalf with the Executive and instead of feelings under obligations to him they would naturally advert to the circumstances which caused him to make the selection and instead of feeling their dependence upon him and an interest in the success of his Administration they might imagine that uninfluenced he would not have selected them....I conclude that the Nation expects an able and faithful administration....And that a strict adherence to the principles laid down by Gen. Jackson will be land marks of which the policy of the Nation will be managed by your accommodation. And under your guidance. So far as any individual opinions and feelings are concerned, I can desire nothing more and hope for nothing.... A cabinet of irreproachable and unapproachable integrity, if intelligent and industrious, is all I want in such a work the rest depends on Yourself."

    Houston was one of the candidates for the 1852 Democratic nomination for president, though he attracted few votes. Franklin Pierce of New Hampshire won the nomination and the presidency. There is no evidence that Pierce ever responded to Houston's letter. The relationship between and Houston and Pierce would later become strained when the former moved toward the Know Nothing Party in the mid-1850s. A wonderful letter providing a glimpse of Houston's thinking about what makes up an effective and productive cabinet. The letter is accompanied by a copy of a typed transcript of the letter.

    Condition: The letter is in fragile condition with tears along the horizontal folds, with loss of some text, especially on the last page. Pages 2 through 7 are bound with a single grommet at top. Heavy dampstaining throughout.

    Shipping, Taxes, Terms and Bidding
    Calculate Standard Domestic Shipping

    Sales Tax information

    Important information concerning Sales Tax and Resale Certificates. Learn More

    Terms and Conditions

    Bidding Guidelines and Bid Increments

    Glossary of Terms

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    March, 2017
    24th Friday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 3
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 356

    Buyer's Premium per Lot:
    25% on the first $250,000 (minimum $19), plus 20% of any amount between $250,000 and $2,500,000, plus 12% of any amount over $2,500,000 per lot.

    Sold for: Sign-in or Join (free & quick)

    Heritage membership

    Join Now - It's Free

    1. Past Auction Values (prices, photos, full descriptions, etc.)
    2. Bid online
    3. Free Collector newsletter
    4. Want List with instant e-mail notifications
    5. Reduced auction commissions when you resell your
    Consign now
    • Cash Advances
    • More Bidders
    • Trusted Experts
    • Over 200,000 Satisfied Consignors Since 1976
    Consign to the 2019 September 4 The Maurice Car Collection of Arts and Sciences Books Signature Auction - Dallas.

    Learn about consigning with us

    The pre and post sales experience was wonderful and flawless. Heritage has the best in-house operation I have ever seen and their people are not only professional but fun to work with, especially Steve C.

    As for Heritage's online system… Yes the interface is more complex than what we are used to with SAN but what is behind that interface is amazing for sellers and buyers alike. It is real time and for a real serious auction buyer there is nothing better in the auction industry, bar none.
    Ron Cipolla,
    View More Testimonials receives more traffic than any other auction house website. (Source:

    Video tutorial

    Getting the most out of search

    Recent auctions

    2019 March 6 Rare Books Signature Auction  Featuring The Otto Penzler Collection of Mystery Fiction, Part One - New York
    2019 March 6 Rare Books Signature Auction Featuring The Otto Penzler Collection of Mystery Fiction, Part One - New York
    REALIZED $1,683,101