Friday, January 20, 2012

Sam Houston’s Political Turmoil in 1834

Part One
[Photo: Sam Houston]

J. Mark Lowe

We are beginning the election cycle for the 2012 Presidential Race. Looking back at history makes us realize that life in the political fishbowl has been tough at best. We join this series of article [Nashville Banner, 7 June 1834] discussing the separation of former Governor Sam Houston and his wife, Eliza Allen.
On 22 January 1829 Houston (age 35) married Eliza Allen (age 19). It is believed he was deeply in love with the girl, but Eliza left him shortly after the marriage for unknown reasons. She returned to her father’s home and the couple never reconciled. In April of 1829, Houston resigned as governor of Tennessee and went west with the Cherokee nation to Arkansas Territory.
The article as printed in the Nashville paper in June of 1834.
The Wife of Governor Houston. The Nashville Banner of the 7th instant, contains the annexed articles, introduced with these remarks:
“We regret the necessity of giv8ing publicity to the following documents. We fear that on the whole, no benefit will accrue to any party from the measure. But, the number and high respectability of those who have promoted, aided and sanctioned it, the prominent standing of the individual principally referred to, and the anxious expectations of the public, who are already aware that some movements have been lately made on the subject, leave us no alternative but to comply with the request of those who have transmitted us the article for publication. Where the lady spoken of is personally known, we believe her reputation remains fair, and unsullied even by suspicion.
At a meeting of sundry respectable citizens of Sumner county, in the State of Tennessee, assembled at the Court-House in the town of Gallatin, on the 26th day of April 1830, George Crocket of said town was called to the Chair, and Thomas Anderson was appointed Secretary.
The design of said meeting having been explained by appropriate remarks from Colonel Joseph G. Guild, on motion of Mr. William Howard Douglass it was
Resolved, that the following gentlemen be appointed a committee to consider and draw up a report expressive of the opinions entertained of the private virtues of Mrs. Eliza H. Houston, and whether her amiable character has received an injury among those acquainted with her in consequence of the late unfortunate occurrence between her and her husband, General Samuel Houston, late Governor of the State of Tennessee, to wit:
General William Hall; William L. Alexander, Esq; General Eastin Morris; Colonel Joseph C. Guild; Elijah Boddie, Esq.; Colonel Daniel Montgomery; Thomas Anderson, Esq.; Captain Alfred H. Douglass; Isaac Baker, Esq.; Mr. Robert M. Boyers; Major Charles Watkins and Joseph W. Baldridge, Esq.
And that said Committee meet at the Court-House in Gallatin on Wednesday next, and report.
The meeting was then adjourned until Wednesday next, at 10 o’clock. George Crockett, Chairman.; Thos. Anderson, Secretary.

Gallatin, Wednesday, April 28
The citizens met according to adjournment, (all the members of the committee wre present, except Colonel Montgomery,) and presented the following report:
The committee deem it unnecessary at this time to annoadvert on the character and conduct of Governor Houston, except so far as they may be inseparably connected with the investigation and development of the character of his unfortunate wife.
It appears that very shortly after the marriage, Governor Houston became jealous of his wife, and mentioned the subject to one or two persons, apparently in confidence; yet the committee are not informed that he made any specific charges, only that he believed she was incontinent and devoid of the affections which a wife ought to have towards her husband. The committee cannot doubt but that he rendered his wife unhappy by his unfounded jealousies, and his repeated suspicions of her coldness and want of attachment, and that she was constrained, by a sense of duty to herself and her family, to separate from her infatuated husband, and return to her parents, which she did early in the month of April last, since which time she has remained in a state of dejection and despondency.
The committee will close this report by observing that they are informed that Governor Houston had lately made a tour through the Middle States, and had returned to Nashville on his way to Arkansas, where they understand he has located himself in the Cherokee nation; and it has been suggested that public sympathy has been much excited in his favor, and that a belief has obtained in many placed abroad that he was married to an unworthy woman, and that she has been the cause of all his misfortunes, and his downfall as a man and a politician whereas, nothing is farther from the fact; and without charging him with malignity of heart, or baseness of purpose, the committee have no hestitation in saying that he is a deluded man; that his suspicious were groundless, that his unfortunate wife is now and ever has been in the possession of a character unimpeachable; and that she is an innocent and injured woman there is not the semblance of doubt.
The committee appointed to express the sentiments of this meeting in relation to the character of Mrs. Eliza H. Houston, and the causes which led to a separation from her husband, beg leave to present, that on the 22nd day of January, 1829, Gen. Samuel Houston, the then Governor of Tennessee, was married to Miss Eliza H. Allen, the daughter of Mr. John Allen, a highly respectable citizen of Sumner county. Miss Allen was born in the town of Gallatin and has been raised in the county of Sumner, and is personally known to the whole of the committee, a majority of whom have known her from her infancy. Up to the time of her marriage with Governor Houston, no lady sustained (and the committee think justly sustained) a fairer and more unsullied reputation for all those virtues which embellish and adorn the female character.
The committee have had placed in their hands, a letter from Governor Houston to Mr. Allen, written shortly after the separation, a copy of which they subjoin without comment.
Stay tuned for more of this story.

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