rYe Jitedelltal Climate aof taosta
DuriM9 the Period aof the public
ANDREW FOREST MUIR
THE CITY OF HOUSTON, unlike most other places in Texas,
has not, in the words of Harriet Beecher Stowe, "just
growed." The brothers Allen-Augustus Chapman and
John Kirby-founded their city, which they shrewdly named for
the hero of the moment, at the most interior point of navigation
in Texas,1 a fact still evident by the flourishing condition of the
port of Houston. They insured the immediate success of their
promotion by inducing the Texan Congress to locate the seat of
government of the Republic in Houston. Of Houston's first nine
years of existence, there is not standing in 1958 so much as one
physical remain by way of a building. Nor, as colorful as the
events that happened here, was there ever to occur within the city
limits an event of world shaking importance. But the early settlers
of and visitors to this community engaged in activities of intellect
and taste that might have aided in shaping the future not only
of the city but of larger geographical areas as well.
It is easy to call to mind the more important men of action of
the time: politicians like Sam Houston and Mirabeau B. Lamar;
merchant princes like William Marsh Rice and William J.
Hutchins; land speculators like William Robinson Baker and
Jacob de Cordova; and military chieftains like Felix Huston and
Albert Sidney Johnston. It is more difficult to call to mind men
devoted to cerebration and creative activity. And yet there were
such in Houston from the beginning.
Firearms were common in Houston, but Phi Beta Kappa keys
were not unknown. Almost from the beginning, such keys were
displayed on the watch chains of two Houstonians, Ashbel Smith,
M.D., who lived in Houston as early as 1837 and who died as the
'Telegraph and Texas Register (Columbia), August 3o, 1836; Houston, a History
and Guide (Houston, 1942), xi.
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 62, July 1958 - April, 1959. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101173/. Accessed May 3, 2015.