The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 59, July 1955 - April, 1956

Book Reviews

145

The Autobiography of Sam Houston. Edited by Donald Day and
Harry Herbert Ullom. Norman (University of Oklahoma
Press), 1954. Pp. xviii+298. Illustrations. Index. $5.0o.
The editors of this Autobiography have selected and reproduced
here certain speeches and writings of Sam Houston which in their
opinion best recreate their subject. In many instances they have
taken the liberty of changing the third person to the first person.
It was not necessary, however, to make wholesale changes since
Houston was always rather liberal in his use of the pronoun "I."
The editors relied heavily on the collected writings of Sam
Houston for their materials. It should be noted, however, that
many other sources were used as indicated in the footnotes and
in a most impressive bibliography. Through finesse in the choice
of materials quoted the complete panorama of the exciting life
of Houston is paraded before the reader. It is all there: his early
life; Tennessee Governor and his sordid marital affair; life among
the Indians; Texas and San Jacinto; President Houston; Senator
from Texas; aspirations for the Presidency of the United States;
Governor of Texas.
The book has many excellent qualities: beautiful format; inter-
esting type; index; bibliography; some excellent editorial com-
ments. The principal objection, however, which one might offer is
that this so-called autobiography is not and could not be an auto-
biography at all since Houston did not write one. In spite of the
clever idea of making it sound like one the title is definitely mis-
leading.
Furthermore, it is entirely possible that the claims herein set
forth concerning the greatness of Houston may be greatly exag-
gerated. No one would deny perhaps that Houston had his great
moments as at San Jacinto, and in his stand against secession.
Neither will it be denied that much of his life was spent in the
gutter and the editors themselves give ample proof of this in
stories related as witness his receiving Count Saligny standing
erect on a table in the middle of the room "stark naked" in order
to show the Count the battle scars on his chest. Note also the
story (p. xv) in regard to Houston's visit to his red brothers in
Arkansas. The editors point out that "when his fortunes per-
mitted, he rode horseback, when he was broke, he walked. When

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 59, July 1955 - April, 1956. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101162/. Accessed July 23, 2014.