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Center Acquires Important Sam Houston Letter

As the first elected president of the Republic of Texas, Sam Houston faced nearly insurmountable problems. During Houston's first term, from October 22, 1836, to December 10, 1838, the new republic's chief executive had to establish a new government, defend the nation against hostile Indians and Mexico, seek recognition from the United States and other nations, establish a treasury to finance the government, and preside over a divided, often antagonistic Congress, and a booming population.

Sam Houston Letter, 1837

Writing to General Thomas Jefferson Green on January 1, 1837, scarcely two months into his first term as president of the republic, Sam Houston began, "It is 4 o'clock in the morning, and I have had no rest since we parted." Houston's brief and poignant letter goes on to describe his anxiety over the lack of food, and the need for armed soldiers to defend the young nation from anticipated attacks from Mexico, and the Comanches and other hostile Indians. Houston urges General Green to communicate with James Hamilton and Memucan Hunt on much needed supplies. Hamilton and Hunt were actively involved in raising money in the United States and Europe to support the army and the new government.

"This important letter was recently acquired for the Sam Houston Papers at the Center for American History through a gift from Governor Dolph Briscoe," said Don Carleton, executive director. "The governor's support of the Center is well known and has always been generous."

The Center sponsored the exhibit "I Have Had No Rest Since We Parted," featuring the Houston letter of January 1, 1837, and other significant selections from the Sam Houston Papers, at the First State Bank in Uvalde from September 17 to November 1, 2007. An opening reception was held on September 17. Patrick Cox, associate director for congressional and political history at the Center, served as exhibit curator. The Houston exhibit will travel to the Sam Rayburn Museum in Bonham in spring 2008, opening there on April 12, 2008.

Governor Briscoe has enjoyed lifelong passion for Texas history, based on his family's legacy in the settlement of the state, dating from 1833, when Andrew Briscoe, one of his ancestors, moved to Anahuac, Texas. Andrew attended the convention at Washington-on-the-Brazos, where the declaration of independence from Mexico was drawn up. He also served as a captain in the Texan army and participated in the battle of San Jacinto. Following the revolution, Andrew was appointed by Sam Houston to serve as a judge in Harrisburg.