Forgotten Texas Leader: Hugh McLeod and the Texan Santa Fe Expeditzon. By Paul N.
Spellman. (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1999. Pp. xi+223.
Illustrations, foreword, acknowledgments, introduction, afterword, notes,
bibliography, index. ISBN 0-890o96-896-9. $24.95, cloth.)
Although a public figure in Texas for thirty years, Hugh McLeod (1814-
1862) lacked a biography until now. A political enemy of Sam Houston and
linked with the Mirabeau B. Lamar faction, McLeod is best known as the leader
of the failed Texan Santa Fe Expedition of 1841. Born in New York City,
McLeod's architect father moved the family to Georgia when Hugh was three
years old. The Lamar family helped Hugh enter West Point where he graduated
last in the class of 1835. Assigned to Fort Jesup, McLeod resigned his commis-
sion, joined the Texas forces, and guarded Nacogdoches from an Indian attack
that never came. As adjutant general of the Republic, McLeod participated in
the Indian wars of East Texas and was present at the Council House Fight in San
Antonio. He encouraged Federalists to revolt in northern Mexico, but did not
go to their aid. Bolstered by reports that Santa Fe merchants would welcome
Texas traders, in 1841 the ambitious and penniless twenty-seven-year-old
McLeod agreed to lead pioneer Texas merchants from Austin to Santa Fe. The
author takes the reader on the troubled enterprise to its betrayal in New
McLeod next tried his luck at politics and served in the Seventh and Ninth
Congresses. In 1844, he married Rebecca Lamar, President Lamar's cousin.
When the Mexican War began McLeod edited the revolutionary newssheet,
Republic of the Rio Grande, that urged the independence of northern Mexico.
He was loyal to the Democratic Party except for an interlude with the Know-
Nothings, which contributed to his defeat for election to the U.S. Congress in
McLeod was most successful as a Galveston businessman. In Galveston, he
owned a cotton press and eight slaves. He was a founding member of the Texas
Philosophical Society and active in Masonic affairs. As a popular speaker he had
a reputation for good humor. In the 185os McLeod supported filibustering
efforts into Cuba, Nicaragua, and Mexico. Active in the Knights of the Golden
Circle, McLeod participated in the secession movement. He received a commis-
sion from the Confederate government and, along with Thomas S. Lubbock,
organized what would later be called Hood's Brigade. Contracting pneumonia
in November 1862, McLeod died in Virginia at age forty-seven.
Repetitious at times, and nit-picking-"dark-complected" was used for dark-
complexioned (p. 112)-but statements without citations cause the most con-
cern. For example, McLeod "encouraged his friend William Cazneau during the
secret filibuster in Dominican Republic" (p. 4). Cazneau's letters to the
Department of State (Record Group M37) reveal that the Special Agent set up a
coaling station and colonization for freed slaves from the Franklin Pierce
through the U.S. Grant administrations. While Cazneau may have joined earlier
with McLeod in backing an expansionist and more liberal KGC, in 186o Cazneau
condemned those working to establish a slave empire in the Caribbean. Minor
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 104, July 2000 - April, 2001. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101221/. Accessed May 27, 2015.