The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 62, July 1958 - April, 1959 Page: 313
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The Intellectual Climate of Houston
first chairman of the board of regents of the University of Texas,2
and Andrew Janeway Yates, a lawyer in Houston until he removed
his office to the younger sister city, Galveston.8
Professional men-attorneys, physicians, clerks in holy orders,
and ministers-were numerous in Houston, but in general, with
notable exceptions, they were men of mediocre talents. No Hous-
ton attorney had any substantial hand in the blending of the civil
and the common law, the abolition of special pleading, or the
marriage of law and equity in a single court, the distinctive con-
tributions of Texas to western civilization. No Houston physician
saw any connection between mosquitoes and malaria and yellow
fever, although all three abounded within the city. No Houston
minister of the gospel developed into a great preacher or even a
The American and Southern interest in the law, however, did
inspire as among the first manifestation of things of the intellect
an interest in forensic. The Franklin Debating Society was func-
tioning as early as October, 1837,' and it was soon replaced by
the Houston Young Men's Society." Some of the topics these
organizations debated had immediate political urgency, like
"Should Texas, in her present contest with Mexico, pursue an
offensive or defensive system of warfare?" and "Would it be ad-
vantageous to Texas to annex herself to the States of the North if
practicable?" Others were of abstract and historical significance,
like "Was Bonaparte a benefactor of mankind?"'7 Still others were
moral considerations, like "Has the use of tobacco a more injuri-
ous tendency, morally and physically, on mankind than the use of
2Phi Beta Kappa Directory, 1776-1941 (New York, c.1941), 1396; Handbook of
Texas (2 vols.; Austin, 1952), II, 620-621.
SPhi Beta Kappa Directory, 1776-1941, p. 1689; Handbook of Texas, II, 942.
4Telegraph and Texas Register (Houston), October 7, 1837; October 11, 1837;
October 14, 1837; October 18, 1837; October 21, 1837; November 4, 1837. In January,
1841, the charter of a Franklin Association was passed by the House of Representa-
tives.-Morning Star (Houston), January 28, 1841; February 16, 1841.
"Ibid., June 8, 1839; June 25, 1839; July 1, 1839; July io, 1839; July 15, 1839;
July 24, 1839; July 30, 1839; August 5, 1839; August 14, 1839; September 8, 1839;
September 18, 1839; October 23, 1839; November 15, 1839; December 11, 1839.
*Telegraph and Texas Register, October 11, 1837; October 21, 1837.
tMorning Star, July 24, 1839.
Slbid., July 15, 1839.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 62, July 1958 - April, 1959, periodical, 1959; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101173/m1/376/: accessed May 27, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.