Houston Campaign Oak R.I.P.

Historical Period: Early Statehood (1845-1861)
Historical Topic: Politics & Politicians, Sam Houston
Species: Post Oak (Quercus stellata)
County: Harrison
Public Access: No longer applicable; tree is dead

In 1849, while thousands of people were making a headlong dash to the West Coast in search of gold, Texas’ first president, Sam Houston, was busy campaigning for a second term in the United States Senate. He and Thomas J. Rusk had been elected Texas’ first Senators in 1846.

On June 24, 1849, under this stately oak, which stood in the city of Marshall, Houston proclaimed his platform to the citizens of Harrison County.

Houston again delivered one of his long orations under the shade of this tree on June 12, 1857. Denunciation of Senator Houston by the State Democratic Convention for his position against slavery had caused him to set aside his plans to retire from the U.S. Senate and to enter the gubernatorial race against Hardin R. Runnels.

In the following weeks, Houston conducted a whirlwind campaign, in which he traveled by buggy and spoke in nearly half a hundred Texas towns. Failure to give up his seat in the Senate while running for governor and an unfavorable press are believed to have combined to give the Hero of San Jacinto his first political defeat. The final vote was Runnels, 32,552 and Houston, 28,678.

The Houston Campaign Oak was located on the northeast corner of West Burleson and North Franklin streets, in Marshall.