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SAM HOUSTON'S SPEECH,
AT INDEPENDENCE, TEXAS, MAY 10.
THE troubles which have come upon the community are neither unexpected to me, nor do I fail to realize all the terrible consequences yet to ensue. Since the passage of the Nebraska and Kansas bill, I have had but little hope of the stability of our institutions. The advantages gained to the North by that measure, through the incentive to AntiSlavery agitation and the opening of a vast territory to Free-Soil settlement, were such that I saw that the South would soon be overslaughed, and deprived of equality in the Government—a state of things which a chivalrous people like ours would not submit to. Yet I fostered the longing hope that when the North saw the dangers of disunion, and beheld the resolute spirit with which our people met the issue, they would abandon their aggressive policy, and allow the Government to be preserved and
administered in the same spirit with which our forefathers created it. For this reason I was conservative. So long as there was a hope of obtaining our rights, and maintaining our institutions, through an appeal to the sense and justice and the brotherhood of the Northern people, I was for preserving the Union. The voice of hope was weeks since drowned by the guns of Fort Sumter. It is not now heard above the tramp of invading armies. The mission of the Union has ceased to be one of peace and equality, and now the dire alternative of yielding tamely before hostile armies, or meeting the shock like freemen, is presented to the South. Sectional prejudices, sectional hate, sectional aggrandizement, and sectional pride, cloaked in the name of the Government and Union, stimulate the North in prosecuting this war. Thousands are duped into its support by zeal for the Union, and reverence for its past associations; but the motives of the Administration are too plain to be misunderstood.
The time has come when a man's section is his
country. I stand by mine. All my hopes, my fortunes, are centred in the South, When I see the land for whose defence my blood has been spilt, and the people whose fortunes have been mine through a quarter of a century of toil, threatened with invasion, I can but cast my lot with theirs and await the issue.
For years I have been denounced on account of my efforts to save the South from the consequences of the unhappy measures which have brought destruction upon the whole country. When, in the face of almost my entire section, and a powerful Northern strength, I opposed the Kansas and Nebraska bill, the bitterness of language was exhausted to decry and villify me. When I pictured the consequences of that measure, and foretold its effects, I was unheeded. Now, when every Northern man who supported that measure is demanding the subjugation of the South, our people can see the real feelings which actuate them in supporting it. Devoted as I was to peace and to the Union, I have struggled against the realization even of my own prophecies. Every result I foresaw has already occurred. It was to bring peace and strength to the South. It has brought war, and spread free soil almost to the northern border of Texas. All we can now do is to stand firm by what we have, and be more wise in the future.
The trouble is upon us; and no matter how it came, or who brought it on, we have to meet it. Whether we have opposed this secession movement or favored it, we must alike meet the consequences. I sought calm and prudent action. I desired a united and prepared South, if we must leave the
Union. Entire coöperation may not now be possible, but we have ample strength for the struggle if we husband it aright. We must fight now whether we are prepared or not.
My position was taken months since. Though I opposed secession for the reasons mentioned, I saw that the policy of coercion could not be permitted. The attempt to stigmatize and crush out this revolution, comprehending States and millions of people, as a rebellion, would show that the Administration at Washington did not comprehend the vast issues involved, or refused to listen to the dictates of reason, justice, and humanity. A stubborn resort to force when moderation was necessary, would destroy every hope of peace and the reconstruction of the Union. That my views on this point might not be misunderstood, I sent to the Legislature, prior to the passage of the Secession Ordinance by the Convention, a message, in which I said:
Having called you together to provide for an expression of the sovereign will of the people at the ballot box, I also deem it my duty to declare that, while the people of the State of Texas are deliberating upon this question, no impending threats of coercion from the people of another State should be permitted to hang over them, without at least the condemnation of their representatives. Whatever
that sovereign will may be when fairly expressed, it must be maintained. Texas, as a man, will defend it. While the executive would not counsel foolish bravado, he deems it a duty we owe to the people, to declare that, even though their action shall bring upon us the consequences which now seem impending, we shall all (be our views in the past and present what they may) be united."
Now that not only coercion, but a vindictive war is about to be inaugurated, I stand ready to redeem my pledge to the people. Whether the Convention acted right or wrong is not now the question. Whether I was treated justly or unjustly is not now to be considered. I put all that under my feet, and there it shall stay. Let those who have stood by me do the same, and let us show that at a time when peril environs our beloved land, we know how to be patriots and Texans.
Let us have no past, except the glorious past, whose heroic deeds shall stimulate us to resistance to oppression and wrong, and burying in the grave of oblivion all our past difficulties, let us go forward, determined not to yield from the position which the people have assumed until our independence is acknowledged, or if not acknowledged, wrung from our enemies by the force of our valor. It is no time to turn back now-the people have put their hands