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Texas distorts its previous – and Sam Houston’s legacy – to defend Confederate monuments

Huntsville reveres hometown hero Sam Houston. And he didn’t revere the Confederacy. Jimmy Henderson/flickr, CC BY-SAAt least 160 Confederate symbols have been faraway from public areas throughout the United States in 2020, in response to the the Southern Poverty Law Center. Even Virginia, the previous capital of the Confederacy, has eliminated a statue of Gen. Robert E. Lee from the Richmond Statehouse and is attempting to take down others seen as offensive by an rising numbers of Americans, together with these whose ancestors have been enslaved. Texas has largely declined to take part on this nationwide reckoning with the symbols of the Old South. Instead, native officers are doubling down on their Confederate monuments. Republican State Sen. Brandon Creighton, who represents the town of Conroe, near Houston, says he’ll file a invoice this legislative session to guard historic monuments from efforts to take away them. Meanwhile, officers in rural Walker County, Texas, voted unanimously in December to maintain a marker to “Confederate Patriots” on the county courthouse garden in Huntsville. The vote adopted an eight-month citizen marketing campaign calling for the elimination of the monument, which was erected by the United Daughters of the Confederacy in 1956. Walker County Commissioners defined their Dec. 21 determination solely by saying that the monument “does not belong to us,” suggesting it’s a piece of native historical past. Yet Walker County is lots of of miles from any main Civil War battlefield. And the county’s most well-known resident, Sam Houston, a Texas hero, ardently opposed the Confederacy. So rejecting the Confederacy is Texas historical past, too. A protest in Huntsville, Texas, calling to take away a Confederate marker on the Walker County Courthouse. Courtesy of Joseph Brown, The Huntsville Item, CC BY A proud Southerner who opposed secession Sam Houston was crucial political determine in Texas earlier than the Civil War. The fashionable metropolis of Houston is called for him, as is the college in Huntsville, Texas, the place we train American historical past. Born in Virginia, Houston moved to the Mexican state of Texas in 1832. A veteran of the War of 1812, Houston was quickly appointed commander of the Texas Army and helped safe Texas’ independence on the 1836 Battle of San Jacinto. He went on to serve two nonconsecutive phrases as president of the impartial Republic of Texas. Later, Houston was the state’s Democratic governor when secession grew to become a severe topic of debate within the South. In 1860, following Abraham Lincoln’s election, white leaders in Huntsville wrote to Houston looking for his recommendation. Houston endorsed them in a letter written on Nov. 14, 1860, to stay vigilant of their protection of American constitutional values “when the country is agitated and revolution threatened.” He urged the group to not get “carried away by the impulse of the moment.” Flag of the impartial Republic of Texas. troyek/E+ through Getty Images There have been pure bonds between Houston and Southern secessionists: All have been white male slave house owners who overtly endorsed white supremacy. But Houston noticed slavery as a vital evil, not a patriotic trigger. “It is necessity that produces slavery,” he stated in 1855, and “it is convenience, it is profit, that creates slavery.” As a senator in 1854, he had voted towards the extension of slavery into the Kansas and Nebraska territories and was condemned all through the South for his principled stand. Sam Houston was no abolitionist, nevertheless. He owned greater than a dozen enslaved individuals and profited from enslaved labor all through his life. Unlike a lot of America’s Southern gentry, although, Houston was not prepared to shed blood to broaden slavery. When Texas legislators met in 1861 to contemplate seceding from the United States, Houston made clear his opposition to the move. But Texas secessionists have been a stronger power. When Houston refused to take an oath to the Confederacy on March 16, 1861, he was faraway from the governor’s workplace. Booed by crowds and pushed from state politics, Houston settled right into a self-imposed exile in Huntsville. He watched in dismay as Texas joined the Confederacy. He died two years later, a lonesome and damaged man. A contorted view of Texas historical past As students who give attention to race and sophistication in Texas, we now have studied the state’s historical past and have been led to talk out towards Huntsville’s Confederate monument. As we wrote final 12 months in an announcement printed within the native newspaper, the Huntsville Item, the courthouse marker obscures and misrepresents native historical past. It is an insult to Houston’s refusal to pledge allegiance to the Confederacy and ignores the truth that enslaved African Americans made up most of Walker County’s inhabitants through the Civil War. It is, in so many phrases, an ahistorical monument. Yet Huntsville – inhabitants 40,000 – glorifies Houston as a navy and political hero. His former home is surrounded by a contemporary museum devoted to him. And Interstate 45, which runs from Houston to Dallas, contains a 67-foot statue often called “Big Sam” promoting Huntsville to vacationers. Woodland, Sam Houston’s historic home in Huntsville, Texas. Pma03/Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA How can fashionable Huntsvillians – like native officers throughout Texas – each revere this anti-Confederate chief and pledge their help for Confederate symbols? The reply lies within the “Lost Cause,” a tenacious Southern fantasy that portrays slavery as benign and the Confederacy as noble. This is the popular model of Texas historical past promoted by the state’s conservative management, the model that seems in Texas faculties’ textbooks. ‘Big Sam,’ off I-45 outdoors Huntsville. By the 1950s, when the Huntsville chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy erected the courthouse monument, the group had been pushing the Lost Cause narrative for over half a century. Mae Wynne McFarland, a local Huntsvillian and 1941 president of the Texas Daughters of the Confederacy, characterised the “War Between the States” as a battle “fought for exactly the same principles which inspired the American Revolution, the War of 1812 and the Texas Revolution.” Houston fought in two of these three battles. His repeated public statements present, nevertheless, that he didn’t consider the Confederacy’s effort within the Civil War aimed on the “same principles” because the War of 1812 or the Texas Revolution. Conservative white Texans have lengthy tried to knit Sam Houston into their Lost Cause narrative. But biographers and college students of historical past have all the time been there to appropriate them. [Deep knowledge, daily. Sign up for The Conversation’s newsletter.]This article is republished from The Conversation, a nonprofit information website devoted to sharing concepts from tutorial specialists. It was written by: Jeffrey L. Littlejohn, Sam Houston State University; Aaron David Hyams, Sam Houston State University; Kristin Henze, Sam Houston State University, and Zachary Montz, Slave-built infrastructure nonetheless creates wealth in US, suggesting reparations ought to cowl previous harms and present worth of slaveryA Texas metropolis found a mass grave of jail laborers. What ought to it do with the our bodies? Jeffrey L. Littlejohn has publicly advocated for the elimination of Walker County’s Confederate monument.Aaron David Hyams has publicly advocated for the elimination of Walker County’s Confederate monument.Kristin Henze has publicly advocated for the elimination of Walker County’s Confederate monument.Zachary Montz has publicly advocated for the elimination of Walker County’s Confederate monument.

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