Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Booknotes: Exiled

New Arrival:
Exiled: The Last Days of Sam Houston by Ron Rozelle (TAMU Press, 2017).

Sam Houston's spectacular political career ended abruptly in 1861 when he was ousted from office for refusing to support the new Confederacy and Texas's place in it. "After an undisputed record of political achievement—leading the decisive battle for Texas independence at San Jacinto, serving twice as president of the Republic of Texas, twice again as a United States senator after annexation, and finally as governor of Texas—Sam Houston found himself in the winter of his life in a self-imposed exile among the pines of East Texas."

More from the description: "After refusing to take an oath of loyalty to the Confederacy in 1861, Houston was swiftly evicted from the governor’s office. “Let me tell you what is coming,” he later said from a window at the Tremont Hotel in Galveston. “After the sacrifice of countless millions of treasure and hundreds of thousands of lives, you may win Southern independence if God be not against you, but I doubt it.” Houston died just two years later, and the nation was indeed fractured."

Author Ron Rozelle's Exiled: The Last Days of Sam Houston probably could have used a more representative title. From looking at the table of contents and glancing through the pages, it appears that the volume devotes far more space to Houston's home and political life during the 1850s than it does to his Huntsville exile during the Civil War, with the secession crisis not arriving until chapter 20 (out of 25 total). I say this only to frame reader expectations, not to imply that the book necessarily has lesser value because of it.

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