When the southern states seceded from the union the debate raged in Texas of whether or not to join the confederacy. It was a debate that would have a huge impact on the future of Texas. It was a lot like a championship boxing match, in one corner you had the Texas legislature, keen on secession, in the other corner you had the titanic figure of Sam Houston, then Governor of Texas, who was a patriot and fiercely loyal to the union. Round one of the boxing match started with the election of President Lincoln who was not well liked by the citizenry of Texas or by Governor Houston. However when the winds of secession began sweeping the south in 1860 Sam Houston stood resolutely against the swell of populist support. On September 22, 1860 Houston had this to say:
The Union is worth more than Mr. Lincoln, and if the battle is to be fought for the Constitution, let us fight it in the Union and for the sake of the Union.
However despite Houston’s opposition the legislature convened a convention to call for secession. The measure passed at the convention and was approved by the citizens of Texas. However in one final valiant act of civil disobedience Governor Houston refused to take the oath of loyalty to the Confederacy. This resulted in his being removed from office in March, 1861. But not before saying this on the matter of secession:
“Fellow-Citizens, in the name of your rights and liberties, which I believe have been trampled upon, I refuse to take this oath. In the name of the nationality of Texas, which has been betrayed by the Convention, I refuse to take this oath. In the name of the Constitution of Texas, I refuse to take this oath. In the name of my own conscience and manhood, which this Convention would degrade by dragging me before it, to pander to the malice of my enemies, I refuse to take this oath. I deny the power of this Convention to speak for Texas….I protest….against all the acts and doings of this convention and I declare them null and void.“
So let us never forget President and Governor Sam Houston, Patriot, Soldier, and Tallest of all Texans!