March 2, 2015 · 10:14 AM
March 2 is the birthday of Sam Houston. Considered a Texas hero, he is also an American hero as well.
In the years leading up to the Civil War, Houston was a
U. S. Senator, and the most controversial issue of his day was slavery. In 1854, Congress introduced the Kansas-Nebraska Act topermit slavery not only in the Kansas-Nebraska area but also in parts of Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, North Dakota and South Dakota. In response, over 3,000 clergymen from New England (which was over three-fourths of New England’s clergy) submitted a petition to Congress opposing the Act and its extension of slavery. Numerous pro-slavery U. S. Senators denounced the actions of the ministers, including Senator Stephen Douglas of Illinois who declared:
It is evident that [the ministers] ought to be rebuked, and required to confine themselves to their vocation. . . It is an attempt to establish a theocracy – to take charge of our politics and our legislation. It is an attempt to make the legislative power of this country subordinate to the church. It is not only to unite church and state but it is to put the state in subordination to the dictates of the church.
(With this absurd rhetoric, Senator Douglas certainly could easily have worked with modern secularist groups such as Americans United for Separation of Church and State, the Freedom from Religion Foundation, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, or the American Humanist Association, for these groups say today what Douglas said decades ago.)
Many other Senators, however, took the opposite — the pro-Constitution –position. In fact, Northern Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts was just about to stand and defend the ministers when Southern Senator Sam Houston arose and shouted, “Sumner! Don’t speak! Don’t speak! Leave them to me!” Sumner yielded; Houston took the floor and declared:
…I certainly can see no more impropriety in ministers of the Gospel, in their vocation, memorializing [petitioning] Congress than politicians or other individuals. . . . Because they are ministers of the Gospel, they are not disfranchised of political rights and privileges and . . . they have a right to spread their opinions on the records of the nation. . . . The great Redeemer of the World enjoined duties upon mankind; and there is [also] the moral constitution from which we have derived all the excellent principles of our political Constitution – the great principles upon which our government, morally, socially, and religiously is founded. Then, sir, I do not think there is anything very derogatory to our institutions in the ministers of the Gospel expressing their opinions. They have a right to do it. No man can be a minister without first being a man. He has political rights; he has also the rights of a missionary of the Savior, and he is not disfranchised by his vocation. . . . He has a right to interpose his voice as one of its citizens against the adoption of any measure which he believes will injure the nation. . . . [Ministers] have the right to think it is morally wrong, politically wrong, civilly wrong, and socially wrong. . . . and if they denounce a measure in advance, it is what they have a right to do.
Sam Houston stood boldly in favor of the free-speech rights of ministers to address any issue the government was also addressing. That constitutional right is just as available today as it was a century and a half ago, and ministers, churches, and people of faith should avail themselves of it.
As we remember our historical heroes such as Sam Houston, we wanted to share with you a document found in WallBuilders extensive library directly related to to this incident. It shows several Senators ordering copies of Houston’s compelling speech so that they could distribute it far and wide.
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Tagged as Charles Sumner, Congress, Godpel, Houston, minister, religious, S. Senator, Sam Huston, senator, spiritual, vocation
March 2, 2014 · 6:47 AM
A Baptist Warrior
1793 – Samuel (Sam) Houston was born on March 2, 1793. After enlisting in the U.S. Army, he became a Lieutenant, lawyer, district attorney, adjutant general, congressman, and the governor of Tennessee. He accomplished all of this before moving to Texas in 1832, where he arrived from Virginia. Almost immediately he was elected major general of the Texas troops. When war broke out with Mexico he dealt a crushing blow to Santa Anna and won Independence for the Republic of Texas. He was elected governor of Texas in 1859. Houston’s conversion was doubtless due primarily to his wife Maggie Lea prior to 1840 but didn’t make a public profession until 1854 when he was united with the Baptist Church of Independence, Texas and was baptized by Dr. R.C. Burleson on Nov. 19 of that year. He regularly led in public prayer, was a regular attendant, even at prayer meeting service and when he lay dying at his home in Huntsville, he expressed to his family and friends his clear faith in his Savior. After Texas was admitted to the Union he served for fourteen years in the U.S. Senate. He was inaugurated governor of Texas on Dec. 21, 1859, and these became the most trying days for there was great ferment before the Civil War. Houston was in the minority for secession but the majority of the people voted to secede on Feb. 23, 1861. His office was declared vacant and he retired to his farm outside of Huntsville where he died on July 26, 1863. Today Sam Houston is one of the most revered names in Texas and in the United States.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon, from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins Thompson /, pp. 86.
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Tagged as Army. lawyer, Baptist history, civil war, congressman, district attorney, governor of Tennessee, governor of Texas, Houston, Mexico, Sam Houston, Sam Huston, Santa Anna, Texas, Texas troops, U.S. Army, warrior
March 2, 2013 · 10:04 AM
Baptists and the Lone Star Republic
A general convention was called and met on March 1, 1836 in Washington, Texas, after a number of small battles were fought over the freedom of Texas. With many betrayals from the Mexican Democratic government, the Texans realized that they could not rely on Mexican Constitutionalists for help, and thus determined to fight for total freedom. At this general convention, churches, except Catholic churches, had been forbidden by law, and so no schools had yet been built, so they met in a blacksmith shop owned by a Baptist, N. T. Brays. Blacksmithing was suspended; the area was cleared, and benches prepared for the first great Texas convention. Judge Richard Ellis, a Baptist farmer, was chosen to preside over the session. The following day Texas independence was declared, and governmental organization was begun. General Sam Houston was selected as the commander-in-chief of Texan armies. Four days after the signing of the declaration of Texas independence, the Alamo fell and 182 courageous men were slain.
Just twenty-five days after the horrible massacre, the Battle of San Jacinto was fought, and the Texans led by General Houston, were spurred on by the battle cry, “remember the Alamo.” In about thirty minutes 750 Texans took on 1500 Mexican troops in which half of the Mexicans were dead and the remainder captured and Santa Anna was a prisoner. Texas was free, and a new state was born led by Baptist men. Judge Richard Ellis was from a prominent Virginia Baptist family that provided preachers for Virginia and Texas. N.T. Byars, the blacksmith, in time was appointed the first Texas Baptist missionary, and became a church planter. General Sam Houston became a great Baptist nobleman. Please observe these men did not desire a state church but sought political and religious freedom for all the citizenry.
Dr. Dale R. Hart, adapted from: “This Day in Baptist History III”, David L. Cummins. pp. 125 – 126
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Tagged as Baptist history, blacksmith shop, catholic churches, churches, constitutionalists, convention, current-events, david l cummins, human-rights, Judge Richard Ellis, lone star republic, Mexican Democratic government, politics, Religion, remember the Alamo, Sam Huston, Santa Anna, schools, Texan Armies, Washington Texas