Sa#1 -oHstoH a#d SecssioH
EDWARD R. MAHER, JR.
AM HOUSTON was a deliberate, conscious actor, who in his
lifetime played many parts, yet to a considerable extent
Oliver Dyer epitomized the figure which was to go down
in history-at least in popular history-when he referred to a
short military cloak of fine blue broadcloth, with a blood red
lining, as the conspicuous feature of Houston's attire;1 for so well
did he play the part of the soldier that General Houston was
destined to relegate to comparative obscurity both Senator Hous-
ton and Governor Houston; the soldier superseded the statesman,
and more spectacular military achievements have tended to over-
shadow a less successful political war dedicated to the preservation
of the Union-or at least, of Texas in the Union.
Houston clearly understood that this struggle required some-
thing more than physical courage-something more admirable
and more rare-for he later defended his vote against the Kansas-
Nebraska bill by asserting: "The glory of my life was that I had
the moral manhood on that occasion to stand up against the
influences which surrounded me, and to be honest in the worst
of times.' '2
The consistency and inflexibility of his opposition to disunion
eloquently substantiate the assertion of Ashbel Smith that al-
though in his personal estimation Houston really opposed annex-
ation of Texas, with annexation an accomplished fact he became
an intensely loyal citizen of the United States.3 When sectionalism
conflicted with nationalism, he could see only one choice.
Hence, when early in 1849 the address to the southern states
was drawn up, as senator from Texas he not only refused to sign
it, but according to President James K. Polk's diary, he came to
the White House to warn the President of what was afoot. Early
'Oliver Dyer, Great Senators of the United States 40 Years Ago (New York,
sCongressional Globe, 35th Congress, Ist Session, Appendix (March 19, 1858),
sUndated, untitled manuscript written by Ashbel Smith (typescript, Smith
Papers, Archives Collection, University of Texas Library).
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 55, July 1951 - April, 1952. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101139/. Accessed January 31, 2015.