August 14, 2012
SAM HOUSTON I
JFK's book highlights the stories of eight United States Senators who risked their political careers to pursue justice.
In the introduction to the Memorial Edition, Robert Kennedy writes:
"Courage is the virtue that President Kennedy most admired. That is why this book so fitted his personality, his beliefs."
JFK Library Image
The title of Chapter V is Sam Houston*
*Sam Houston (1793-1863), US Congressman from Tennessee, military leader of the Texas Revolution, President of the Republic of Texas, Governor & Senator of the State of Texas, was born in Virginia.
He spent much of his youth in East Tennessee. He taught school in Maryville & was later admitted to the bar & practiced law in Lebanon, TN.
As Governor of the State of Texas, Houston strongly opposed the secession of his state from the Union.
Portrait by J. C. Buttre, 1858
JFK describes Sam Houston as "one of the most independent, unique, popular, forceful & dramatic individuals ever to enter the Senate chamber."
Senator Houston closed out the debate on the KANSAS-NEBRASKA BILL**, which, if passed, would reopen the issue of the extension of slavery.
**proposed by Senator Stephen A. Douglas of Illinois, the act created the territories of Kansas & Nebraska & gave settlers the right to permit slavery by majority vote.
Upon becoming law, the K-N Act repealed the Missouri Compromise of 1820 which had established a geographical line of division between slave & free territory.
Even though, JFK tells us, Houston 'must have known the bill would pass.' he said to his colleagues:
"Nothing can justify this treachery; nor can anything save the traitor from the deep damnation which such treason may merit."
He finished with these words:
"I adjure you to regard the contract once made to harmonize & preserve this Union. Maintain the Missouri Compromise! Stir not up agitation! Give us peace!"
JFK goes on to tell us that Houston's "lonely vote against the Kansas-Nebraska Bill" ....was "indeed the last straw."