As a Senator, Houston wanted to prevent sectionalism. In support of the Compromise of 1850 Houston quoted Matthew 12:25, “A nation divided against itself cannot stand. Houston opposed the 1854 Kansas-Nebraska Act, and predicted that it would cause a sectional rift in the country that would eventually lead to war: ” … what fields of blood, what scenes of horror, what mighty cities in smoke and ruins– it is brother murdering brother … I see my beloved South go down in the unequal contest, in a sea of blood and smoking ruin.”
Texas seceded from the United States in February, 1861 and joined the Confederacy in March. Governor Houston refused to take the oath of allegiance to the confederacy:
“Fellow-Citizens, in the name of your rights and liberties, which I believe have been trampled upon, I refuse to take this oath. In the name of the nationality of Texas, which has been betrayed by the Convention, I refuse to take this oath. In the name of the Constitution of Texas, I refuse to take this oath. In the name of my own conscience and manhood, which this Convention would degrade by dragging me before it, to pander to the malice of my enemies, I refuse to take this oath. I deny the power of this Convention to speak for Texas….I protest….against all the acts and doings of this convention and I declare them null and void.”
On April 19, 1861 from a hotel window he told a crowd that demanded an explanation for his refusal to support the Confederacy:
Let me tell you what is coming. 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. I tell you that, while I believe with you in the doctrine of states rights, the North is determined to preserve this Union. They are not a fiery, impulsive people as you are, for they live in colder climates. But when they begin to move in a given direction, they move with the steady momentum and perseverance of a mighty avalanche; and what I fear is, they will overwhelm the South.
Tomorrow, Death of a Patriot Rita Bay