When Congressmen Carried Guns

by Julia Robb
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In 1832, Sam Houston stood in the U.S. of Representatives, on trial for attacking Ohio Representative William Stanbery.

It was a headline trial. Sam Houston, a six-foot-two, good-looking Tennessean, was already famous.220px-SHouston_2

While Houston defended himself, a woman in the balcony threw him a bouquet of flowers and cried “I would rather be Sam Houston in a dungeon than Stanbery on a throne.”

We think we know about Sam Houston; general of the Texas armies, hero of San Jacinto, president of the Republic of Texas, senator of Texas, governor of Texas.

But Sam Houston was bigger than life and most people don’t know half the story.

Let’s start with his congressional trial.

While Stanbery was attacking Andrew Jackson’s administration, during a house speech, he accused someone in the administration of fraudulently giving Houston contracts to distribute food to Indians.

At the time this supposedly happened, Houston was Indian subagent in Tennessee.

Houston found out about Stanbery’s statement.

It was then against the law to physically attack congressman for statements they made on the House floor.

Houston, a former Tennessee congressman himself, knew this.

But when the two met on a Washington street, Houston ignored the rules and beat Stanbery with his cane.

During the fight, Stanbery pulled a gun and tried to shoot Houston in the chest.

Houston’s life was saved when the gun misfired.

After listening to Houston’s ringing self-defense, members voted to reprimand him.

The vote:106 to 89.

Houston’s life was filled with danger.

He fought in the war of 1812 and was twice wounded at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend, in Alabama.

In 1826, when he was a Tennessee congressman, Gen. William White challenged him to a duel. The two men squared off at 15 paces and Houston shot White in the groin.

White thought he was dying and supposedly made amends with Houston while he lying on the ground. White survived.

Houston was a romantic and eventually fell in love with Eliza Allen, daughter of a wealthy Tennessee family.

Sam was 35-years-old. Eliza was 19.

The two were married in January, 1829.

Eliza left him three months later.

Nobody ever knew what happened.

Separation and divorce were huge scandals in the nineteenth century, particularly if the husband and wife were well known.

And Houston was governor of Tennessee.

America couldn’t talk about anything else but the marriage. Houston fans and biographers are still talking about it.

Houston said he would not “take up arms” against a woman, resigned as governor, and fled to the Cherokees, whom he had lived with as a boy.

The Cherokees called him “The Raven,” but also called him “Big Drunk,” as he apparently went on a years-long binge.

Sam eventually sobered up and left for Texas.

When Santa Ana invaded and Houston was asked to lead the miniscule Texas army, Houston urged Texans to fight: “Be men, be free men, so that your children may bless their father’s name.”

Houston was badly wounded at San Jacinto, but Texas carried the day.

Houston eventually married Margaret Lea, who reformed him. He was baptized in Rocky Creek, two miles south of Independence.al12

A friend wrote Houston and said he supposed Houston’s sins were all washed away when he was baptized.

In his reply, Houston said, “I hope so, but if they were all washed away, the Lord help the fish down below.”

This is Houston’s greatest deed: He refused to lead Texas out of the Union and resigned as governor rather than doing so.

He warned Texans the Confederacy would lose the fight and it would be a ruinous, bloody war.

“Some of you laugh to scorn the idea of bloodshed as the result of secession, but let me tell you what is coming….Your fathers and husbands, your sons and brothers, will be herded at the point of the bayonet..”

Houston died, brokenhearted, in 1863.

His last words were “Texas, Texas, Margaret.”

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Julia Robb is the author of Scalp Mountain and Saint of the Burning Heart, eBooks for sale at amazon.com. She can be reached at juliarobb.com, juliarobbmar@aol.com, venturegalleries.com, goodreads, pinterest, twitter, Facebook, iamatexan.com and amazon author pages.

Kountze ISD Rejects Court’s Decision, Appeals

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Remember the cheerleaders that won the court case against the school district that was trying to prevent them from painting Bible verses and patriotic sayings on “run-through” signs at home then bringing them to football games for the team to run through?

Well, the school district lost in court. Appealed. Lost again. Now they’re back at it. Wasting more taxpayer money and preventing our Texas kids from expressing themselves the way they wish to express themselves.godbanner

One must wonder what would happen if they were to paint immoral things on these “run-throughs”. What would happen then? Not a thing, I presume. This is wrong, and this is happening in Texas, folks.

IN THE SCHOOL

Just a few short weeks ago the Kountze High School Cheerleaders and all of America celebrated when Liberty Institute secured a victory in the famous Bible banner case.

But now, joining a host of radical left groups like the ACLU and the extremist Freedom From Religion Foundation, the Kountze ISD wants to eliminate the free speech rights of its students.

Faith. Jesus Christ. Hope. Love—these are dirty words for students in Kountze, Texas.

After failing to suppress private expression of faith and losing its case against the cheerleaders, Kountze ISD filed an appeal.9095548_600x338

The Kountze district filed the appeal Tuesday. The district says it wants the 9th Texas Court of Appeals in Beaumont to clarify whether the Kountze High School cheerleaders have a free speech right to include the religious messages.

The district says state District Judge Steve Thomas ruled the banners were allowed under the U.S. Constitution but stopped short of saying the cheerleaders had a free-speech right to them.

District lawyer Tom Brandt said the cheerleaders’ legal advocates “are reading into the court’s decision rights that just aren’t there.”

Seemed pretty clear to everybody who read it except for you, Tom.
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Texas Feuds flourished on the lawless frontier: The Regulators and the Moderators and The Mason County War.

On Nov. 13, 1843, Peter Whetstone walked from a store located on the square in Marshall, Texas and met his death.

Whetstone donated the land Marshall was built on.

Didn’t help.

A “Regulator” leader who believed Whetstone was a “Moderator,” followed him outside and shot him in the back.

Whetstone–one of my multiple-great uncles–entered the record book.

The Regulator–Moderator feud was the bloodiest in American history and Whetstone was one of the victims.

Most Americans have heard about the feud between the Hatfields and the McCoy’s.

Only ten men were killed in the Kentucky shootouts.

More than thirty men were killed in the Regulator–Moderator war, and it took Sam Houston and the Texas militia to stop the bloodshed

Sudden Death

 

While it remained a frontier, Texas was a brutal place where sudden death swept men away like tornadoes.

Nobody met in the street and drew their guns. This wasn’t dueling.

Men shot each other in the back, or suddenly pulled on each other after a few harsh words, then the loser’s friends went looking for the winner.

Mobs corralled suspected lawbreakers and lynched them from trees, telegraph poles and even railroad bridges.

But the feud was worse than other kinds of violence because it involved so many people.

Texas had many feuds, but the Regulator–Moderator war and the Mason County War were two of the most lethal.

Regulators versus the Moderators

The Regulators organized in Shelby and Harrison Counties, in East Texas, in 1841, to supposedly stop wide-spread stealing and killing.

But the Regulators killed anyone they even suspected, or had a grudge against, so the Moderators organized to stop the Regulators.

For almost four years, both sides lynched each other, ambushed each other (as with the Whetstone killing), and met in pitched battles.

Neither side was scared of the other. A judge and a sheriff were murdered, as was Robert Potter, a sitting senator for the Republic of Texas.

In March,1842, a posse of Regulators descended on Potter’s cabin, on Caddo Lake, and when Potter ran to the lake and jumped in, the Regulators waited until he surfaced and shot him to death.

Law enforcement could not stop the killing because it was “barebones,” according to Bill O’Neal, Texas State Historian.

Prominent citizens finally wrote Houston and begged for help, so Houston traveled to San Angustine in August, 1844, and issued a “Letter to my Countrymen.”

The letter was a veiled threat which ordered everyone involved in the feud to return home so “as will render it unnecessary to have recourse to such measures as would be as unpleasant to myself as they would be indispensable to arrest the unhappy conditions of things…”

The violence stopped (for the most part) and the militia arrested the feud’s leaders. Militiamen also occupied Shelby County.

Houston visited the arrested men at the San Augustine courthouse, and talked to them “as a loving father would talk to a lot of bad boys who had been quarreling among themselves,” according to Sandy Horton, a witness.

After paying bail, the leaders were allowed to return home.

The Mason County War

The Mason County War was a little more straightforward.

On May 13, 1875, Deputy John Worley arrested Tim Williamson and charged him with cattle rustling.

Twelve men with blackened faces attacked Worley and his prisoner and Williamson was killed.

Scott Cooley, a former Texas Ranger, then farming in Menardville, swore revenge for  ImageWilliamson.

The two men were close friends and Williamson was also Cooley’s sometime employer.

Cooley recruited friends to help and began gunning down men he believed responsible for Williamson’s death.

Cooley and his partisans killed from ten to twelve men, including John Worley.

Cooley shot Worley while he was working on his well, and scalped him, according to James B. Gillett, author of Six Years with the Texas Rangers.

The Mason County sheriff was so terrified he left Mason, never to return.

A portion of my novel, Scalp Mountain, is based on some Mason County War incidents.

Finally, state officials ordered Texas Ranger Major John Jones and Company D (forty men) to find Cooley.Image

But many of the Rangers had served with Cooley and did not want to arrest or kill him, and some actively helped Cooley evade arrest.

Finally, Jones gathered his men in ranks.

Jones asked that every man who could not, in good conscious, search for Cooley, to leave the rangers. He would give them honorable discharges.

Fifteen men stepped forward and asked for a discharge.

Some of Cooley’s co-conspirators were captured and sent to prison.

Cooley was jailed, but escaped, and soon died from “brain fever.”

This was the Texas frontier, a brutal place where more than one man boasted “I’ll die before I run.”

We live in culture that was born in defiance during the Texas revolution and continued that defiance during the Civil War.

We are a people who were punished by fire and atrocity during the Comanche wars.

We boiled in blood during endless frontier violence.

This is not a good thing, nor a bad thing.

But it’s who we are.

Julia Robb is the author of Scalp Mountain and Saint of the Burning Heart, both e-books. She can be reached at juliarobbmar@aol.com, at www.juliarobb.com, at www.iamatexan.com, at www.venturegalleries.com, at Pinterest and Goodreads.

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The Niceties of Texas

by Philip M Cruts

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The State of Texas has always been known for her friendly people. I never knew anywhere else was different until I went to New England to see my wife. I walked into a store and asked the clerk how she was doing and I received the strangest look. I could tell she was trying to figure out if she knew me or not. Some places just aren’t used to Southern hospitality.

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I made the move from The Panhandle to The Hill Country 15 years ago. The difference was astounding! I remember the first time I was driving down the highway and someone pulled over to let me pass. I had never seen this before and I knew I had found my new home. The people of Central Texas were the friendliest group of people I had ever encountered. When you walked into a convenience store to get a coke, you were greeted by whatever clerk happened to be on duty that day. It didn’t matter what they were doing, they stopped to say “hi”, “good morning”, or “how are you?”, but that was 15 years ago.

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texting-while-driving-not-just-a-teen-issue-report--44483d2ab4I’m seeing less and less of the friendly Texas attitude and it’s being replaced by a nonchalant, it’s all about me attitude. My wife and I went into a convenience store recently and wanted to order a burger. Two clerks who were in their early twenties were standing at the counter. We proceeded to the deli counter and stood for several minutes before politely asking the clerk (who was texting) if there was anyone who could help us. She rolled her eyes and came over. Now, I’m a very patient man, but I’m also big on customer service. It almost seems like clerks think they’re doing you a favor by allowing you to have them ring you up. There are 7 other stores in our small town. I’ll do her the favor of shopping at one of them.

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I’ve always been proud of waving and being waved at by other drivers. And when someone lets me pass, I always wave as a simple courtesy. I’ve seen the wave, I’ve seen the brake tap, and I’ve seen the flashers, but I’m also seeing less and less of each. I was on my way from Brownwood to Brady the other day and I decided to do a little experiment. I drive rather slowly anyway, so I decidedjim-jeep-wave to pull to the shoulder for every car that came behind me. There were 11 cars/pickups and 7 big rigs. Out of the 11 cars, I received 2 waves and 1 brake tap. Out of the 7 trucks, I received 6 flashers. It doesn’t surprise me with the trucks, but the cars did. Eight people never even acknowledged me taking the time to be courteous and let them pass.

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All of this was just to say, we need to find our way back to the true Texans we used to be. Take the time to say thank you. Take a minute to say hello. Let people know that they are appreciated by you. And most of all, remind them what being from Texas is all about.

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P.S. I also noted license plates while driving. Out of the 11 vehicles, 10 had Texas plates. The other was from Oklahoma; he waved.

 

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Big Trees Have Emotional Benefits

by Boyd Taylor

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There is finally an explanation why people who live in older neighborhoods with large trees have less stress than those in new subdivisions, and it is not because people in the older areas tend to be wealthier and their neighborhoods more expensive.tree-hugger

A City of Austin arborist says big trees have emotional benefits. He says there is less neighborhood stress when big trees are around.

.Council will consider a program at its next meeting to bus residents from small-tree areas into big-tree neighborhoods for therapy sessions. “There will be individual and group therapy sessions, including tree-hugging and napping in the shade. City counselors will be in attendance to assist those who have never had the big-tree experience.”

.Proposals to plant more trees in big-tree deficient areas have been rejected as too little, too late. “Only an aggressive program of big-tree exposure can remedy the years of neglect.”.angry-man

A Panhandle legislator has introduced a bill to ban tree-hugging busing. “We don’t have any big trees where I come from, or any psychiatrists either, and we’re all perfectly normal.”

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Boyd Taylor is the author of “The Hero of San Jacinto”, a riveting book about Texas history and politics set in modern times. It’s a must read.
Click here for more!

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*This is an exerpt from Boyd’s blog. His original blog can be found by clicking here.

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CSCOPE or C-SCAM?

By Peggy Venable
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CSCOPE is among the most controversial topics in the Lone Star State. Surprisingly, many Texans have never heard of it.

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CSCOPE is a curriculum management system that has been sold to more than 850 Texas public, private and charter schools. It was developed by a division of the Texas Education Agency, which went to great lengths to avoid public oversight over the process.CSCOPE_logo_R[1]

Directors of the agency’s regional Education Service Centers created a nonprofit shell organization called the Texas Education Service Center Curriculum Collaborative, which exists in name only, and made themselves directors of this organization, which served only to move CSCOPE development out of public view. Since then, the directors, whose salaries are taxpayer funded, have met and worked in secret, using the nonprofit agency as a shield against open records and open meetings.

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CSCOPE is controversial by virtue of its veil of secrecy, its financial trail (or lack thereof) and its contentious lesson plans.

Teachers had been required to sign a form that prohibited them from discussing CSCOPE and from publicly criticizing the lesson plans. Parents have not been given access to the lesson plans. Even the elected State Board of Education chairman was not given access to the curriculum for six months.

Some curriculum specialists claim CSCOPE helps schools utilize Common Core Standards, a set of general education standards pushed by the Obama Administration and that Texas has soundly rejected. Common Core Standards take control away from local educators and increase costs without adding rigor or improving student outcomes.

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The leadership of the 20 service centers has worked to avoid transparency and review of CSCOPE, and in doing so have betrayed the public trust.

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Texas Senate Chairman Dan Patrick held a full-day hearing on CSCOPE early this year and issued a statement urging the service centers to open their meetings to the public, shut down the nonprofit collaborative and allow parents to see the lesson plans.

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The latter is a requirement of the state that lesson plans be made available to parents, something the CSCOPE program failed to do in violation of the law.

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Aside from the cloak and dagger tactics, CSCOPE is costly. It was developed using public money, yet the lesson plans are “rented” to the school districts per pupil, per year, eating up even more taxpayer dollars.

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Texas taxpayers and educators across the country have been talking about CSCOPE for months. Now the light of public scrutiny is finally being shed on the operation and the lesson plans.

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Thankfully, sound-minded lawmakers in the Legislature are working to end this sham. Sens. Patrick and Donna Campbell authored a bill that would provide public review for CSCOPE lesson plans, which passed the House 31-1, and a similar bill originated by Rep. Steve Toth was approved by the House Public Education Committee last week. Lawmakers should get this legislation passed to start protecting students and parents from an unaccountable, centralized teaching authority.

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Education is big business in Texas. The Lone Star State has 10 percent of the nation’s students and spends over $54 billion a year on K-12 education. This call to action on CSCOPE has been spearheaded by parents and courageous teachers who were willing to risk their careers to bring to light problems they found in the curriculum, despite the money and power involved. These parents have exhibited their passion to protect their children and their education.

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It is appropriate that this review process proceed and that the practices of the Education Service Centers be investigated. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has indicated he is doing so, and last week Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst said he would request an audit of their financial records.

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Texans are no strangers to education battles. We are known for our “textbook wars” when the public debates educational approaches, ideologies and philosophies in textbooks. It is what citizens do when they care deeply about our kids’ education.

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What is taught in today’s classrooms will shape our country and our economy tomorrow. That makes this controversy an important battle for our children’s education.

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— Peggy Venable is Texas state director of Americans for Prosperity.

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