Sam Houston so despised the institution of slavery that as President of the Republic of Texas in 1837, a law was passed to outlaw the illegal importation of slaves into Texas.
Anyone caught violating that law would be considered to be a pirate and pirates were to be summarily executed “without benefit of clergy”.
Sam treated his slaves as if they were blood members of his family and they were allowed to take outside jobs, earn and save money.
The main reason that Houston didn’t immediately free his slaves was for their protection. Had they been released before the end of the Civil War, they would no doubt have been kidnapped and sold to slave owners who didn’t have Houston’s same anti-slavery stance.
In the 1860’s Houston’s slave Joshua Houston had accumulated the equivalent of $175,000 in gold and offered his life savings to Margaret Lea Houston for the benefit of her family upon Sam’s death. Margaret of course refused the offer and told Joshua to use the money to educate his children.
Although it was illegal for slaves to learn to read and write, Sam insisted that his slaves be taught not only how to read and write, but also how to cipher as he felt that slaves were inherently as intelligent as whites and that all should be educated.
The most telling facts about Houston’s concern for the health and welfare of slaves can be discovered by reading the book: “My Master – The Inside Story of Sam Houston and His Times” by his former slave Jeff Hamilton.
Jeff was born into a slave owning family in Kentucky in 1840. He said that “the slave cabins were comfortable and nicely furnished…and that they “treated their slaves with kindness…and would “speak in glowing terms of the plentiful supply of good food given to the slaves.”
The Gibson family moved to Texas where Mr. Gibson was killed and his widow married a cruel drunk named McKell who owed a past debt bill for two barrels of whiskey.
In order to pay the debt he decided to sell Jeff, a small boy of 13 years of age in 1853.
The slave auction block was placed “beside the plant-walk in front of the T. & S. Gibbs’ store, where most of the traders could always be found.”
“Auctions of slaves were held almost every day in those times…and so when I was being sold, a big crowd had gathered in front of the Gibbs’ general store…”
“The auction dragged on and I began to cry.”
An evil man named Moreland offered $500 for the child and left to get the money to pay for the child.. Sam Houston drove up in his carriage and asked what “all the excitement was about”.
“Someone in the crowd answered: Nothing at all General. Just a little nigger boy being sold.”
Houston offered $450 cash right then and there for Jeff if McKell would promise to sell the rest of Jeff’s family to Sam. McKell lied and sold Jeff’s mother and the other children to other slave owners and Jeff didn’t get to reunite with his mother until 25 years later.
“My new master then lifted me off the block and took me into the Gibbs store.”
“Tom, he said to the store man, give this little rascal something to eat.”
“Draw up a bill of sale for $450, and when McKell signs it, pay him and charge the money to my account.”
After Sam made sure that Jeff had had plenty to eat he gave him a bag of candy, bought him a nice hat with a ribbon on it, and said, “I have a little boy almost as old as you with whom you can play.”
“I could not then know on that day fate had taken “a little nigger” from the auction block to make him the trusted servant of a great leader, one who believed in the just and humane treatment of my people.”
The book is well worth reading, especially by those who want to tear down statues of Sam Houston as if he were like some of the evil slave owning men of his day.
If any statue of a contemporary of Sam Houston should be relegated to a museum or other place where visitors can learn about an evil hate-filled genocidal Texan who despised Black people and believed that the only good Indian was a dead Indian, it should be the statues of Mirabeau B. Lamar.
All schools or parks named for the mass murdering Lamar, including Lamar University in Beaumont as well as Lamar Institute of Technology, Lamar State College Orange, and Lamar State College Port Arthur, should have their names changed to honor a great woman with a love for all humanity: Margaret Lea Houston.
It is far past time for the dysfunctional culture in America to be defused and neither “Black Lives Matter” nor “All Lives Matter” seem to be working to bring peace and harmony to all.
“Just add “too”, after “Black Lives Matter” signs and banners, which means that all lives do indeed matter but that Black lives are just as important as White, Red, Yellow, and Brown lives. Indeed Black Lives Matter Too, and Sam Houston should be revered as a man of great personal strength and integrity.