"MY COURSE HAS BEEN, AND EVER WILL BE, TO SECURE FIRST THE PROSPERITY & HAPPINESS OF THE AMERICAN PEOPLE. IN THE MEANTIME, I WILL NOT FAIL TO 'SYMPATHIZE' WITH ANY, AND EVERY OPPRESSED PEOPLE & NATION": WONDERFUL AUTOGRAPH SAMUEL HOUSTON LETTER WITH A SUPERB LARGE SIGNATURE
HOUSTON, Samuel. Autograph letter signed. Washington, D.C.: January 15, 1852. One sheet of paper, folded; open, measuring approximately 15-1/2 by 10 inches. $15,000.
Three-page autograph letter boldly signed from Sam Houston to Gideon Welles, who would become Secretary of the Navy under Lincoln during the Civil War, discussing current foreign policy and Houston's "America First" attitude.
The letter reads in full: Washington, January 15, 1852. My Dear Sir: I had the pleasure to receive your favor of the 13th inst. and for it you have my thanks. I commend your views in relation to our international policy as most wise, and truly practicle [sic]. It is a a [sic] good rule to recur to first principles, and by way of doing so, it seems to me, that a wise plan would be to ask, what would Gen'l Jackson decide, to be proper, in any given case! In the present emergency, either you or I could guess what course he would adopt. My course has been, and ever will be, to secure first the prosperity & happiness of the American people. In the meantime, I will not fail to 'sympathize' with any, and every oppressed people & nation. What have we to do, with Hungary, more than with Poland, Ireland, or Rome? They are all equally objects of our sympathy. If they are not, I am not prepared to show the distinction by playing 'Leap Frog' at Festivals. Write to me often, and I will be gratified and instructed by the receipt of your communications. Commend me to Ned and our friends. Truly thine, Sam Houston. To Gideon Wells, Esq. Hartford, Conn." The "emergency" referred to in this letter is likely the tumult of revolution in Europe, including the failed rebellion of Hungary against Hapsburg rule in 1848. In 1852, Lajos Kossuth, a noble who led the Hungarian revolutionaries, toured the United States in the hope of gaining support for the cause of Hungary's patriots.
Houston fought in the War of 1812 and battled the Creek Indians. A Tennessee congressman, Houston served as Governor of Tennessee but resigned due to marital problems. After settling in Texas, Houston fought for statehood, and commanded the small army that captured Santa Anna. He served as President of the Republic of Texas, Senator, and Governor. Although Houston was a candidate for the Democratic nominee for President in the 1852 election (Franklin Pierce would ultimately win that nomination and eventually the Presidency), his increasing dissatisfaction with the party led him first to the Know-Nothing movement and then to the Constitutional Party (comprised mostly of Southern unionists). Although Governor of Texas, Houston was unable to prevent Texas from seceding from the Union in 1861, and he was deposed because of his strong unionist stance. Gideon Welles, Houston's correspondent here, followed a similar trajectory: initially aligned with the Democratic Party, Welles drifted first to the Free Soil Party before becoming an early and vigorous supporter of the new Republican Party, founding the pro-Republican Hartford Evening Press in 1856. It was this support that earned him the position of Secretary of the Navy under Lincoln. This letter was published on page 16 of the Houston Press for December 28, 1939, included with this letter. Also included are photocopies from Gideon Welles' diary for 1852, where he notes receiving this letter (and others).