Secession Convention to Houston,
March 12, 1861
Sam Houston's ardent stand in favor of the Union made him an increasingly controversial figure as the pressures that would lead to the Civil War grew greater. Some Southerners even considered him a traitor. And as the firestorm of secession swept the South in the wake of the election of Abraham Lincoln as president, Houston stood firm in favor of Texas remaining in the Union. He predicted, correctly as it turned out, that a civil war would lead to a victory by the North and ruin for the South.
Events moved too quickly for Houston to control. One by one his efforts to cool the situation failed. The Texas legislature called a convention, which on February 1, 1861, approved the Ordinance of Secession. The issue was not quite settled. In 1845, Texans had voted to join the Union, and in 1861, Texas held a popular referendum on the secession question. It passed overwhelmingly on February 23. In the meantime, the convention had been busy, seizing federal arsenals in San Antonio and elsewhere.
The Secession Convention reassembled on March 5, declared Texas independent, took further steps to join it to the Confederacy, and reorganized the state's government. In doing this it declared that all current officeholders must swear a loyalty oath to the Confederacy. Sam Houston refused, and on March 16 the convention removed him from office.
This message from the Convention, just four days before Houston was forced from office, shows the continuing tug-of-war for control of the state's machinery of government between Houston and the Convention.
Resolved that His Excellency
Gov. Houston be requested to trans-
mit to this convention a copy of
the communication lately received
by him from the Secretary of War
of the Government of the Confederate
States of America, together with the
act of the Congress of the Confederate
States accompanying said commu-
nication relative to the arms and mu-
nitions of war, as well as the public
property surrendered to the commissioners
on the part of the State of Texas by Bre-
vet Major Genl. David E. Twiggs late of
the United States Army commanding
in the Southern Division of said army
at San Antonio, and that the Secre-
tary of this convention be directed
to transmit forthwith a copy of
this resolution to His Excellency.
Adopted in Convention at
the City of Austin on the 12th day
of March A.D. 1861.
Secy to the Convention
Secession Convention to Houston, March 12, 1861, Records of Sam Houston, Texas Office of the Governor, Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.