The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 60, July 1956 - April, 1957 Page: 425
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he might have forsaken Benton to dash showily down historical
bypaths, he does not desert and he is no exhibitionist. Instead,
Chambers stays with his man and seems satisfied to limit back-
ground developments to scenes as germane as they are colorful
and charming. Precisely such qualities are essential to success in
the single-volume form of this difficult branch of non-fiction. And,
thanks to his brilliant fusing of them, the political scientist from
Washington University steps forward to take rank with Nevins,
Pringle, Freeman, James, and other masters of the biograph-
For all his devotion to Jacksonian democracy, Senator Benton
was too much the individualist to adhere unquestioningly to a
party line. His attitude toward Texas, for example, did not con-
form with political stereotypes. Even before the 1819 Adams-Ofiis
Treaty, Benton believed and insisted that the Louisiana Purchase
made Texas (up to the edge of the Rio Grande watershed) the
property of the United States. Denouncing Adams bitterly-charg-
ing that Adams had thrown away an area equal to all of New
York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, Ohio, and
Kentucky-he urged in 1829 that the lost expanses be regained
by purchase from Mexico. Yet, in 1843, this self-styled "first and
earliest advocate for the recovery of Texas" opposed the Tyler-
Calhoun plan of annexation as "an intrigue for the Presidency,"
a plot to dissolve the Union, and a "script and land speculation."
The following year, Benton made it clear that he looked to
Texas' "recovery" as "inevitable," but he thought immediate an-
nexation would fan smouldering Texan-Mexican hatreds into the
flames of a shooting war. There was also the question of terri-
torial limits, and here his estimate of the situation mirrors not
only Benton's individualism but also the flamboyant egotism of
the man: "I, who consider what I am about, always speak of Texas
as constituted at the time of the treaty of 1819, and not as con-
stituted by the Republic of Texas." Let us "not repeat the
blunder" of 1819, the Missourian pleaded, "and double the
calamity, by the manner of recovering" Texas in 1844.
Still, in the Polk-Clay contest, Benton stoutly and effectively
supported Polk and referred to the Democratic platform planks
on Texas and Oregon as "my own measures! children of twenty-
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 60, July 1956 - April, 1957, periodical, 1957; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101163/m1/460/: accessed September 20, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.