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by Bartee Haile 

Two years after fellow Texans spurned him in the only ballot-box loss of his career, Sam Houston gave his first and last speech in a comeback campaign for governor on Jul. 9, 1859.

As one of just two southern senators that opposed repeal of the Missouri Compromise and extension of slavery to the western territories, Houston paid dearly for his 1854 vote against the Kansas-Nebraska Bill. That lonely stand ultimately cost Old Sam his seat in the United States Senate as well as the 1857 gubernatorial election.

In May 1857, eight days after the Democrats nominated Hardin Runnels for governor, Houston declared his own controversial candidacy. Against a lackluster opponent young enough to be his son, the former President of the Texas Republic should have been a shoo-in. But times had changed, and he was the underdog risking humiliation.


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