The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 58, July 1954 - April, 1955

bHook Reviews
RUDOLPH L. BIESELE, Editor
Sam Houston, The Great Designer. By Llerena B. Friend. Austin
(University of Texas Press), 1954. Pp. xiv+'394. Illustra-
tions. $6.oo.
Many books have been written about Sam Houston, a few of
them works of merit. Yet, not until 1954, nearly a century after
his death, was his biography written with an objective approach,
after exhaustive research, in keeping with the exacting standards
of modern historical scholarship. Such a work Dr. Friend has
brought forth, a book made possible by the eight-volume com-
pilation of The Writings of Sam Houston, compiled and edited
by Drs. Eugene C. Barker and Amelia W. Williams, and the un-
published writings of Houston brought together at the Univer-
sity of Texas.
The author states without apology that this book grew out of
her doctorial dissertation at the University of Texas. In fact, the
thesis was written under the guidance of scholars who believe that
theses are written for people to read and think it no sin that one
be interesting. A dissertation thus planned and shaped is a good
beginning for a readable book.
It cannot be said that all of this book is easy reading, but none
of it is dull. Houston's was a complex personality of many facets
and his career at times as intricate as a piece of old lace. He wrote
a great deal and talked even more. His statements, furthermore,
were sometimes mystifying and not always consistent.
Objectively and in a workman-like manner the author takes
up Houston's various courses of action: his "designs" on Texas;
his alleged conspiracy with Andrew Jackson to tear Texas away
from Mexico and add it to the United States; and his relations
with New York bankers and land speculators. She deals fully with
the Dr. Robert Mayo letter and its sequel, a topic dismissed by
some historians as a hoax and a comedy of errors and pointed to
by others as proof of Houston's machinations to seize Texas and
Jackson's connivance in the shady scheme. Always the scholar and

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 58, July 1954 - April, 1955. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101158/. Accessed November 27, 2014.