The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 97, July 1993 - April, 1994 Page: 203
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Sam Houston's Speechwriters: The Grad Student,
the Teenager the Editors, and the Historians
JAMES E. CRISP*
THE Texas Monthly SAW "THE FACE OF RACE" IN SAM HOUSTON'S
speech. With an advance copy of Marshall De Bruhl's new biography
as her source, writer Anne Dingus informed the readers of the slick mag-
azine's bicentennial birthday guide to the life of Houston that the old
hero, "despite his fabled championship of Indians, ... was a man of his
era as far as other minorities were concerned." In addition to keeping
slaves, he had "railed against tejanos (Texans of Mexican descent)" in a
"pep talk" to his troops in the days before San Jacinto, and on another
occasion he had "claimed that Mexicans were 'incapable of self-govern-
Leaving aside for the moment the fact that the Texas Declaration of
Independence itself voiced "the melancholy conclusion, that the Mexi-
*James E. Crisp is an assistant professor of history at North Carolina State University. This arti-
cle was researched and written with the support of the Rockefeller Foundation during the au-
thor's 1992-1993 fellowship at the Institute for the Arts and Humanities of the University of
North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
'Anne Dingus, "Sam the Man ... ," Texas Monthly, XXI (Mar., 1993), 112 (quotations). The
author is grateful to Anne Dingus for providing the sources for the alleged Houston statements;
these sources were not revealed in the magazine article. De Bruhl's reference to the Houston
speech to Texan troops may be found in Marshall De Bruhl, Sword of San Jacinto: A Life of Sam
Houston (New York: Random House, 1993), 176-177. The Texas Monthly's source for the Hous-
ton quote ("incapable of self-government") was Donald Day and Harry Herbert Ullom (eds.),
The Autobiography of Sam Houston (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1954), 219. The edi-
tors of this volume have silently deleted large portions of the 1848 speech which is the source of
this phrase, including language which considerably mitigates Houston's criticism of the Mexi-
cans. For the complete text, see Amelia W. Williams and Eugene C. Barker (eds.), The Writings of
Sam Houston, 1x83-1863 (8 vols.; 1938-1943; reprint, Austin and New York: Pemberton Press,
1970), V, 35 (Houston quotation), 29-37 (cited hereafter as WSH). It should be noted in pass-
ing that most of the so-called Autobiography, termed a "travesty" by bibliographer John H. Jenkins,
was actually written in 1846 by Charles Edwards Lester as a campaign biography, and altered
from the third person to the first by the editors of the 1954 version. See John H. Jenkins, Basic
Texas Books: An Annotated Bibliography of Selected Works for a Research Library (rev. ed.; Austin: Texas
State Historical Association, 1988), 340-343, 344 (Jenkins quotation), 345. For a balanced ac-
count which offers a persuasive defense of Sam Houston's entire career against the recent
charges of racism and bigotry, see Gregg Cantrell, "Sam Houston and the Know-Nothings: A
Reappraisal," Southwestern Hstorical Quarterly, XCVI (Jan., 1993), 326-343 (cited hereafter as
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 97, July 1993 - April, 1994, periodical, 1994; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117154/m1/249/?q=crisp: accessed November 14, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.