The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 76, July 1972 - April, 1973 Page: 39
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The Houston-Fisher Controversy
supporter in the election, secretary of the navy. In his message to the
Senate, October 26, 1836, Houston stated that in the selection and
appointment of these officials he had chosen the men he thought
best qualified for the positions. "With a total disregard to personal
preference," he declared, "I have selected such persons to associate
with myself in the administration of the Government, whose talents
I think best suited to the furtherance of the interests of the country."
Houston indicated that although his range of choice was limited
he had given the appointments serious consideration. He further
stated, "Should any one of them be rejected I should feel myself at
a loss where, or by whom to supply his place." Two days later these
appointments were confirmed by the Senate."
Fisher's responsibility presented, at best, a challenge and a prob-
lem. The navy that Fisher was asked to supervise and maintain was
makeshift and inadequate, with insufficient and ill-trained personnel.
His first report concerning conditions of the department was sent to
Houston on November is, 1836. Fisher strongly recommended the
issuance of a number of letters of marque and reprisal, to license
privateering until Texas could more adequately provide coastal de-
fense. The financial condition of the country, the secretary asserted,
demanded such a move."
By April, 1837, Tornel had succeeded in blockading the coastal area
and all commerce from Galveston was stopped. The two ships which
comprised the Texas Navy were insufficient to break the blockade, and
the lack of supplies made it impossible for Fisher to carry out effec-
tive measures for coastal defense. In a letter to Colonel A. S. Thurs-
ton of the Texas Army, Fisher stated that five Mexican ships had
appeared along the coast, and that Houston had directed him to
prepare for operations but that the navy was hopelessly inadequate.
To add further to the problem of coastal defense, nothing had been
done to build up the navy, although a bill had been before Congress
since November is, 1836, the day Fisher presented his report to
2Houston to the Senate, October 26, 1836, in Eugene C. Barker and Amelia W. Wil-
liams (eds.), The Writings of Sam Houston (8 vols.; Austin, 1938), I, 458; Ernest
W. Winkler (ed.), Secret Journals of the Senate of the Republic of Texas, 1836-
z845 (Austin, 1911), 17. Houston's presidential message of October 26 may also be
found in Winkler (ed.), Secret Journals, 15-16. Quotes from Writings of Sam Houston.
'Fisher to Houston, November 12, 1836, NP.
'Fisher to Thurston, April 15, 1837; Fisher to Houston, November 12, 1836, NP.
Information is lacking as to whether Houston vetoed the bill or whether it died in Con-
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 76, July 1972 - April, 1973, periodical, 1973; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101202/m1/57/: accessed April 25, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.