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, unlike the other Southern states, 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
Adopted in Convention at
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.