Wednesday, August 15, 2012


August 15, 2012


Knoxville, Tennessee (JFK+50) Today we continue our report on Senator John F. Kennedy's Pulitzer Prize winning book, "Profiles In Courage."  

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.

JFK continues his discussion of the courage of Sam Houston of Texas.

He writes:

"No one can say with precision by what star Sam Houston steered--his own, Texas's or the nation's."

JFK argues, however, that Houston, "at the end," chose principle over "all he had ever won or wanted."

His one consistent quality, according to Profiles In Courage, was "indomitable individualism."

Senator Sam Houston was "unceremoniously dismissed" by the Texas Legislature on November 10, 1857.

Mr. Houston closed out his career as a legislator with these words:

"I wish no prouder epitaph to mark the....slab that may lie on my tomb than this: 'He loved his country, he was a patriot; he was devoted to the Union."

While his legislative career had ended, not Houston's political career. 

He became the 7th Governor of Texas in 1859, but in 1860 Abraham Lincoln became President, South Carolina left the Union & the Texas Legislature, despite Governor Houston's opposition, voted 109 to 2 to join the Southern Confederacy.

Texas was no longer in the Union & Sam Houston was no longer governor of the Lone Star State.

JFK concludes this chapter telling us that "casting aside a lifetime of political fortune, fame & devotion from his people" Sam Houston wrote in his final message these words...

"I love Texas too well to bring....strife & bloodshed upon her.  I shall calmly withdraw from the scene......stricken down because I will not yield to those principles which I have fought for...."

         Sam Houston Schoolhouse*
             Maryville, Tennessee
 Photo by Brian Stansberry (2007)

*Sam Houston taught here as a young man.  The school was placed on the National Registry of Historic Places in 1972 & is located just a few miles from my home in South Knox County.

               Sam Houston Gravesite                                Marker by Pompeo Coppini                               Photo by J. Williams (2003)