TexasEscapes.com 
HOME : : NEW : : TEXAS TOWNS : : GHOST TOWNS : : TEXAS HOTELS : : FEATURES : : COLUMNS : : BUILDINGS : : IMAGES : : ARCHIVE : : SITE MAP
PEOPLE : : PLACES : : THINGS : : HOTELS : : VACATION PACKAGES
Texas Escapes
Online Magazine
Texas Towns by Region
  • Texas Hill Country
  • Central Texas North
  • Central Texas South
  • South Texas
  • East Texas
  • West Texas
  • Texas Panhandle
  • Texas Gulf Coast
    Texas Towns A - Z
    Over 2900 Towns

    Texas Ghost Towns
    Over 800 Ghost Towns

    Book Hotels
  • Texas | Columns | "Wandering"

    The Cane Mutiny

    by Wanda Orton
    Wanda Orton

    "Oh say can you see, that by the dawn's early light, what so proudly he flailed ..."

    Imagine, if you will, such an opening statement by Francis Scott Key, defense attorney for Sam Houston in an assault case in 1832 in Washington, D.C.

    The man who wrote The Star Spangled Banner had a way with the words, and that's probably why Sam, after beating the tar out of a congressman with his hickory cane, picked him as his defense attorney.

    Congressman William Stanbery of Ohio had enraged Houston with ugly remarks about him in a speech before the House of Representatives. He accused Houston, a former congressman from Tennessee, of fraud and corruption in connection with a rations program for Indians.

    The remarks particularly hit a sore spot with Houston, an honorary Cherokee who had the Indians' best interest at heart and, in fact, paraded around in full Indian regalia.

    The day after the infamous speech, Houston had to be restrained by Congressman James Polk from charging into the House to confront Stanbery.

    Houston then wrote a note to Stanbery demanding that the congressman explain his accusations or prepare to defend his honor. --

    When Stanbery did not respond, Houston grew madder by the minute.

    The newspaper, the Telegraph, added more fuel to the fire, printing Stanbery's speech and agreeing with the speech-maker.

    Aptly, on a Friday the 13th in April, 1832, Houston was strolling down a street with friends when he spotted Stanbery. He yelled at him, demanding an explanation for the slanderous comments, and when Stanbery looked the other way, trying to ignore him, Houston came after him.

    Wielding his hickory cane, Houston proceeded to hit him over and over.

    He nearly killed the poor guy and nearly got killed himself. Knowing he was on Houston's hit list, Stanbery carried a pistol and during the attack he fumbled for the weapon, finally found it, and it misfired.

    The gun made Houston even more furious. "Damn rascal!" he kept yelling, hitting his victim. He continued to flail away until his friends managed to pull him off the poor guy.

    Stanbery then requested that Houston be charged with assault and tried by the House of Representatives. He said he had been waylaid by the giant Tennessean who severely bruised and wounded him.

    For the first time ever, the House had a private citizen arrested for attacking one of its members for words spoken before Congress.

    The trial dragged on, day after day, wtih attorney Key declaring he was proud to stand by sucha man in such a cause and saying that Houston was not a man of violence but was a patriot who had given his right arm for his country at Horsehoe Bend. Stanbery, armed and ready, was violent the one, claimed Key.

    The defense attorney also argued that the House members should not be conducting the trial in the first place, that they were violating the separation of powers guaranteed by the Constitution.

    Sam, always the ham, insisted on starring in the final scene, making his own closing statements. "I'll take over, now. Thank you, Francis."

    Francis Scott Key himself could not have made a more star-spangled, flag-waving, super patriot speech than that of his client. Samís mesmerized audience responded with a standing ovation.

    He didn't get off Francis Scott Key-free, however. The House found him guilty but his punishment was a mere reprimand.

    It's not over yet. Stanbery pursued the case in the city court which also found him guilty and slapped him with a $500 fine.

    It's still not over.

    In the twilight's last gleaming, President Andrew Jackson pardoned Sam Houston and he never paid a cent.


    © Wanda Orton Baytown Sun Columnist, October 14, 2013 column
    More "Wandering" columns
    More about Sam Houston
    Related Topics:
    People | Columns | Texas Towns | Texas |

    Related Topics: People | Columns | Texas Towns | Texas |

    Texas Escapes, in its purpose to preserve historic, endangered and vanishing Texas, asks that anyone wishing to share their local history, stories, and vintage/historic photos, please contact us.
    Custom Search
    TEXAS ESCAPES CONTENTS
    HOME | TEXAS ESCAPES ONLINE MAGAZINE | HOTELS | SEARCH SITE
    TEXAS TOWN LIST | TEXAS GHOST TOWNS | TEXAS COUNTIES

    Texas Hill Country | East Texas | Central Texas North | Central Texas South | West Texas | Texas Panhandle | South Texas | Texas Gulf Coast
    TRIPS | STATES PARKS | RIVERS | LAKES | DRIVES | FORTS | MAPS

    Texas Attractions
    TEXAS FEATURES
    People | Ghosts | Historic Trees | Cemeteries | Small Town Sagas | WWII | History | Texas Centennial | Black History | Art | Music | Animals | Books | Food
    COLUMNS : History, Humor, Topical and Opinion

    TEXAS ARCHITECTURE | IMAGES
    Courthouses | Jails | Churches | Gas Stations | Schoolhouses | Bridges | Theaters | Monuments/Statues | Depots | Water Towers | Post Offices | Grain Elevators | Lodges | Museums | Rooms with a Past | Gargoyles | Cornerstones | Pitted Dates | Stores | Banks | Drive-by Architecture | Signs | Ghost Signs | Old Neon | Murals | Then & Now
    Vintage Photos

    TRAVEL RESERVATIONS | USA | MEXICO

    Privacy Statement | Disclaimer | Contributors | Staff | Contact TE
    Website Content Copyright ©1998-2013. Texas Escapes - Blueprints For Travel, LLC. All Rights Reserved