The Civil War in Texas: An Exhibit from the Texas State Library and Archives
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Sam Houston Senate Speech, February 15, 1854

Page 6

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Sam Houston speech opposing the Kansas-Nebraska Act, 1854

15

first compromise after the formation of the Con-
stitution, why not take away the last; and if others
should grow up, why not sweep all compromises
from your statutes, and from the policy of the
country? If you disregard one, and treat it with
levity, impair its importance and its weight in the
public mind, you prepare the way for a disregard
of all. If you regard it as a sacred instrument,
one to be esteemed and adhered to, you will find
that its benefits will inure to you. But if you tear
it up and scatter it to the winds, you will reap the
whirlwind; you will lose the benefit of compacts.
Sir, I most fervently and devoutly trust that the
Missouri compromise may remain. If the South
is to get nothing by its repeal but an abstraction,
she does not want it. So far as I can represent
her, she has not demanded it. It is an afflictive
gratuity which will be of no benefit to her.

Mr. President, I came into public life under the
auspices of this compromise. More than thirty
years ago I occupied a seat in the other end of the
Capitol. Since then I have seen much, and have
not been unobservant. I have seen great changes
take place in this Government, and but one me-
morial remains of the period when I was first
acquainted with it in an official position. Mr.
Pleasonton, the Fifth Auditor, is the only officer
left of all who were then attached to the Federal
Government. Even the porters of the public build-
ings have disappeared. New generations have
succeeded. Ten Presidents have filled the Execu-
tive chair. Out of nearly three hundred represent-
atives, in the Senate and House of Representatives,
but three remain. A distinguished member of the
other House, from Missouri, [Mr. BENTON,] who
was then a Senator on this floor, the distinguished
Senator from Massachusetts, [Mr. EVERETT,] who
was then a member of the House, and myself, are
all the memorials left; and, sir,

“When I remember all
The friends so link’d together,
I’ve seen around me fall
Like leaves in wintry weather,
I feel like one
Who treads alone
Some banquet hall deserted;
Whose lights are fled,
Whose garlands dead
And all but he departed.”

Others must succeed us and occupy the places
which we now fill. They will be instructed by
what we do. We are not acting alone for our-
selves, but are trustees for the benefit of posterity.
Our actions are to inure to them for good or evil.
We are, by our legislation, to benefit or to preju-
dice them. Mr. President, in the far distant future
I think I perceive those who come after us, who are
to be affected by the action of this body upon this
bill. Our children have two alternatives here
presented. They are either to live in after times
in the enjoyment of peace, of harmony, and pros-
perity, or the alternative remains for them of
anarchy, discord, and civil broil. We can avert
the last. I trust we shall. At any rate, so far
as my efforts can avail, I will resist every attempt
to infringe or repeal the Missouri compromise.

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Image enlarged 150%. Speech of Hon. Sam Houston of Texas, Delivered in the Senate of the United States, Feb. 14 and 15, 1854. Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

Page last modified: August 23, 2011