Sam Houston and Eliza Allen: The Marriage
and the Mystery
SAM HOUSTON NURTURED HIS SECRETS. BENEATH HIS BYRONIC POS-
turing, drunken rantings, and fiery pronouncements was an as-
tonishing capacity for covert schemes and private ponderings.
Washington Irving, who met him in 1832, described him as "given to
grand eloquence" with a "large & military mode of expressing himself."
An Englishman who encountered Houston soon afterwards near the
Arkansas-Texas border depicted him differently:
General Houston was here, leading a mysterious sort of life, shut up in a small
tavern, seeing nobody by day and sitting up all night. The world gave him
credit for passing these his waking hours in the study of trente et quarante and
sept a lever; but I had . . . seen too much passing before my eyes, to be ignorant
that this little place was the rendezvous where a much deeper game . . . was
With Houston, there was always a "deeper game." When the United
States was toying with the annexation of Texas, Houston's intrigues be-
tween the United States and foreign powers confused even his mentor
Andrew Jackson, and the true story of these deliberations has yet to be
sorted out. Likewise, Houston's tinkering along the Rio Grande in
1858-1860, with a view to establishing a protectorate over Mexico, and
his curious daliance with Lincoln on the eve of civil war, are riddles still
unsolved. And, of course, no one ever knew what he was planning in
1836 on that muddy, mucky retreat through the Brazos bottoms to the
field of San Jacinto; no one knew where he was leading his recalcitrant,
*Elizabeth Crook is a writer who lives in Austin. Hcl novel about Sam Houston and Eliza
Allen, Raven's Bride, will be published by I)oubleday in 1991.
'[Washington Irving], Journals and Notebooks, Vol 5, ed Sue Fields Ross (5 vols; Boston:
Twayne Publishers, 1986), V, 171 (Ist quotation); (;eorge W. Fecatherstonhaugh, Excumzon
through the Slave States . (2 vols.; London: John Murray, 1844), II, 161 (and quotation).
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 94, July 1990 - April, 1991. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101214/. Accessed February 1, 2015.