James Hamilton, Jr., vs. Sam Houston:
Repercussions of the Nullification Controversy
MARILYN MCADAMS SIBLEY*
JAMES HAMILTON, JR., AND SAM HOUSTON MADE NO SECRET OF THEIR
dislike for one another. Once, in conferring with a French diplomat,
Hamilton expressed his "profound contempt" for Houston, and in a
letter to a high British official he called Houston one of the "least re-
spectable" men in Texas, "to say the best of him."' Houston returned
the sentiment in full measure. Hamilton, he once wrote, was "destitute
of all sincerity," and mutual acquaintances learned never to mention
Hamilton in Houston's presence.2
Hamilton attributed the problem to "jealousy" on the part of Hous-
ton, "lest I should supplant him in influence with the people of Texas,"
and personal rivalry was indeed a factor." The anti-Houston forces
chronically lacked a strong leader to counterbalance the former Ten-
nessee governor who had become the hero of San Jacinto, and they
often looked hopefully to Hamilton, a former South Carolina governor
who had become the darling of the southern nationalists. The Texas
Congress offered Hamilton command of the Texas army in late 1836,
President Mirabeau B. Lamar listened respectfully to his opinions, and
his name cropped up as a presidential candidate.
* Marilyn McAdams Sibley, a past president of the Texas State Historical Association, is the
author of Lone Stars and State Gazettes: Texas Newspapers before the Civil War and other books re-
lated to Texas.
'Nancy Nichols Barker (ed. and trans.), The French Legation in Texas (2 vols.; Austin, 1971-
1973), I, 71; Ephraim Douglass Adams (ed.), "Correspondence from the British Archives Con-
cerning Texas, 1837-1846," Quarterly of the Texas State Historical Association, XV (Jan., 1912),
2Sam Houston to Ashbel Smith, Dec. 9, 1842, Sam Houston, The Writings of Sam Houston,
1813-z863, ed. Amelia W. Williams and Eugene C. Barker (8 vols.; Austin, 1938-1943), III,
223; Feris A. Bass, Jr., and B. R. Brunson (eds.), Fragile Empires: The Texas Correspondence of
Samuel Swartwout and James Morgan, 1836-1856 (Austin, 1978), 183, 190.
'Adams, "Correspondence," 261.
4Ernest William Winkler (ed.), Secret Journals of the Senate, Republic of Texas, 1836-1845 (Aus-
tin, 1911), 315; Houston to Thomas Jefferson Green, Jan. 1, 1837, Houston, Writings, II, 32;
James Hamilton to Mirabeau B. Lamar, Apr. 11, Oct. 11, 1838, Charles Gulick et al. (eds.), The
Papers of Mirabeau Buonaparte Lamar (6 vols.; Austin, 1921-1928), II, 136-138, 243-245; Vir-
ginia Louise Glenn, "James Hamilton, Jr., of South Carolina: A Biography" (Ph.D. diss., Uni-
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 89, July 1985 - April, 1986. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117151/. Accessed May 24, 2016.