GOD & TEXAS: Last Will and Testament of Sam Houston
“In the name of God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, I, Sam Houston, of the County of Walker and the State of Texas, being fully aware of the uncertainty of life, and the certainty of death, do ordain and declare this my last Will and Testament.”
The entirety of this amazing document is now secure in the General Land Office archives in Austin. On April 2, 1863, about three months before he died due to complications caused by pneumonia, Houston detailed to whom his inheritance would pass.
After debts were paid, Houston left his remaining estate to his beloved wife, Margaret, and his children. He wanted his sons to have a useful education, and to be “taught an utter contempt for novels and light reading.” To his eldest son, Sam Jr., he gave his sword that was used at the Battle of San Jacinto. To Margaret he gave his library, watch, and jewelry.
Sam Houston’s will reveals the personal convictions, values, and spiritual priorities of the most dynamic figure in Texas history. For much of his life, Sam Houston was known as a rowdy brawler with a quick temper. Legend says that his obsession with alcohol earned him the Cherokee title of “Oo-tse-tee Ar-dee-tah-skee” (Big Drunk). But everything changed when he was born again (John 3:3) during his marriage to Margaret Lea.
In his will, Sam Houston desired that his sons “be instructed in the knowledge of the Holy Scripture, and they become people of character and morals.” He commissioned Margaret with the responsibility of “the rearing, education, and moral training of our sons and daughters.”
Reading the will of Sam Houston, one is reminded of the Old Testament character Jacob. Jacob was a driven man, who manipulated the truth for his own benefit. As a skillful cook and wily trickster, he deceived his own father and brother. Later, Jacob proved to have advanced combat abilities when he fought the angel in Genesis 32.
But by Genesis 49, Jacob has been transformed from a shyster, to “Israel” (a man who struggles with God). Like Houston's, Jacob’s struggle with God was real, and on his deathbed, Jacob spoke his paternal inheritance that propelled the plans of God forward through his family.
Have you experienced the somber feeling of writing your Last Will and Testament? Directing your hard-earned inheritance to someone else, is a formidable task. Yet, this is what Jesus did through the entire New Testament.
This truth is revealed in Hebrews 9:16-17 (The Message) – “Like a will that takes effect when someone dies, the new covenant [of Christ] was put into action at Jesus’ death. His death marked the transition from the old plan to the new one, canceling the old obligations and accompanying sins, and summoning the heirs to receive the eternal inheritance that was promised them. He brought together God and his people in this new way.”
And all you have to do to receive Christ’s inheritance, is to accept Him as your Lord and Savior (John 3:16).