The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 94, July 1990 - April, 1991 Page: 2
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Southwestern Hzstorical Quarterly
disorderly army, or when, or if, he intended to stop and fight. "I con-
sulted none," he wrote without apology. "I held no councils of war."2
But the secrecy that often shadowed Houston's intentions did not be-
gin with his mysterious presence in Texas, or the circuitous retreat to
San Jacinto. It did not begin in Texas at all. Its turbid origins were in
another puzzling era of Houston's life, seven years before San Jacinto,
in another country, in the rooms of the Nashville Inn where Sam Hous-
ton took his bride.
"I have as usual had 'a small blow up,"' Sam Houston, governor of
Tennessee, wrote on December 4, 1828. "What the devil is the matter
with the gals I cant say but there has been hell to pay ... ." Four months
later the blow up was not so small, and the governor not so glib; Eliza
Allen, his bride of eleven weeks, left him and returned to her family.
Houston resigned the governorship and boarded a steamboat west to
Arkansas, Cherokee territory. Three and a half years later he crossed
the Red River and entered Texas for the first time.3
Such are the facts. But the particulars of this disastrous marriage are
a secret that Houston carried all of his life, first with an air of intense
grief, then bitterness, and, finally, his characteristic melodrama.
One night in the early 183os Sam Houston stopped at the home of
his friend Phil Sublett in San Augustine. Houston was too intoxicated
to climb the stairs, and Sublett, thinking any man in such condition
would be inclined to talk, prepared Houston a pallet on the floor, bed-
ded him down, and then asked him why he had separated from his
wife. Houston sobered, stood, declared that Sublett defied hospitality's
laws, and called for his horse. In 1840 when Houston was to marry
Margaret Temple Lea of Alabama, a member of the Lea family "took
General Houston off alone to a room and told him that . .. the family
would appreciate it if he would tell them why he left his first wife."
Houston replied to Mr. Lea that if the wedding "depended on his tell-
ing what he had never told to anyone and never expected to tell that he
might call his fiddlers off."' Mr. Lea reconsidered."
Eliza Allen Houston preserved the mystery with less bravado but
equal dedication. Tradition claims that before her death in 1861 she
2Sam Houston to Thomas J. Rusk, Mar 29, 1836, in Amelia W. Williams and Eugene C
Barker (cds.), The Wrrtings of Sam Hlouton, 81 3-1863 (8 vols , Austin. Pembei ton Press, 1970),
I, 385 (cited hereafter as Wrtzings).
3Marquis James, The Raven A Btography of Sam Hlouton (New York: Blue Ribbon Books,
'Alfred M. Williams, Sam Houston and the War oJ Independence n Texas (Boston: Houghton,
Miflin and Company, 1895), 36; John Trotwood Moore and Austin P. Foster, Tennessee, the
Volunteer State, 1794-1923 (4 vols.; Chicago S J Clarke Publishing Company, 1923), I, 400
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 94, July 1990 - April, 1991, periodical, 1991; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101214/m1/26/: accessed May 24, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.