The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 74, July 1970 - April, 1971

Southwestern Historical Quarterly

that he attempted to retain as much of the original flavor as possible
and edited Mrs. Hadlock's manuscript only lightly. It is difficult to
fault this book for reasons of scholarship and objectivity. Its pulse is
cyclical-at times it seems rather dry, then out pops a rich sketch or
exciting experience which suppresses any doubt as to the worth of
the book.
University of Oklahoma ARRELL M. GIBSON
Sam Houston's Wife: A Biography of Margaret Lea Houston. By
William Seale. (Norman: The University of Oklahoma Press,
1970. Pp. xv + 287. Illustrations, bibliography, index. $6.95.)
When Ruth Painter Randall wrote her life of Mary Todd Lincoln,
she called it a "Biography of a Marriage." William Seale might well
use the same subtitle for his life of Mrs. Lincoln's contemporary, Mar-
garet Houston. It was her marriage to Sam Houston and the inter-
relationship of that union that made her a subject for a biography.
It is a strange love story. In 1829 Houston married pretty Eliza
Allen, eighteen years his junior, and the marriage lasted three months.
In 1840 he married Margaret Lea, also pretty, also delicately reared,
and twenty-six years his junior. The marriage lasted until Houston's
death in 1863 and through the "deep longing" which possessed Mar-
garet until her own death in December, 1867.
The author strives for fairness in his evaluation of the couple. He
describes Mrs. Houston as pampered, introverted, self-indulgent, given
to religious doubts and depression, and mentally susceptible to dis-
ease. To her mother, "a sanctuary too available for Margaret's good,"
she was likely to leave "every responsibility she could possibly aban-
don." From the first she was overly possessive of Sam, Jr. Housekeep-
ing's only reward for her was in pleasing her husband; so her charms
as a hostess had to compensate for her laziness as housekeeper. Until
after Houston's death she had no concept of family finances and no
interest in learning her financial condition. She never interfered with
Houston and his public, and on occasion she made some effort to
become excited over her husband's political fortunes, but she could
not keep her mind off herself very long. That she was a dutiful daugh-
ter, a devoted Christian, a solicitous mother, and a loving wife there
was no question.
Seale's candid appraisal of Houston slants a bit to Margaret's side

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 74, July 1970 - April, 1971. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101200/. Accessed July 25, 2014.