The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 47, July 1943 - April, 1944 Page: 186
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
The obvious thing to say first is that it is not the complete
picture of a man, but rather the portrait of a public functionary.
Here are detailed pictures of what the young soldier, the con-
gressman, the governor, the general, the president, the senator,
the patriot who in 1861 stood "the last almost of a race" (VIII,
277) did, wrote, or said in a given circumstance. But there is
precious little of what the man Houston felt, either about public
affairs or the concerns nearest his own heart and personal
happiness. It is almost as if his motto through life had been
the answer he gave John H. Houston who wanted to know in
1833 what he was to do in Texas: "Part, I will tell you, and
the balance you may Guess at" (V, 5). There is in these eight
volumes little new light on such matters as the circumstances
of his quitting Tennessee, the reasons for his coming to Texas,
his plan for defeating Santa Anna, or his attitude, except
after consummation of the measure, on annexation. Even his
letters to his wife and children are almost as formal as his state
papers, although occasionally there is a playful note and some-
times a pun. "Houston" was the invariable signature to letters
to Mrs. Houston, but he added his first name and sometimes
his rubric when he addressed his children.
There is plenty here to sustain Houston's reputation for
arrogance and his contempt for his enemies, personal or po-
litical; but it is not always clear whether Houston is speaking
his heart or striking a pose which his judgment told him a
man in his position ought to strike. Not every statesman could
avoid a duel by sending word to his challenger: "I never fought
down-hill and I never would ;" and few of his contemporaries
in politics could with complete conviction say of his adversaries:
"To be sure, they did not like me, but that was their fault,
not mine. . . . I never made a quarrel with a mortal man on
earth," as Houston did to the Senate in 1854 (VI, 61, 62).
Privately he wrote that "This [T. J.] Green started in North
Carolina after one or two cow-hidings, and since I have known
him[,] for thirty years, deserved one every day" (VI, 301);
but when he discovered Green's Journal of the Texian Expe-
dition against Mier in the Library of Congress, he asked the
Senate to meet at an unusually early hour to hear his eighteen
page excoriation of "T. Jefferson Dog Green." He was sure
that the chairman of the library committee was "not cognizant
that such a book . . . was in the library, or he would have
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 47, July 1943 - April, 1944, periodical, 1944; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth146054/m1/204/: accessed August 21, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.