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Joshua Houston (1822–1902) was born into slavery in 1822 on the Perry County, Alabama plantation owned by Temple Lea and Nancy Moffette Lea, parents of Margaret Lea Houston. When Margaret married Sam Houston, Joshua moved to Texas with the newlyweds. Joshua traveled with Sam Houston and worked on the construction of Raven Hill in Huntsville, Texas. He became educated and was elected to local public offices. He had three wives and was the father of eight children,[1] including Samuel Walker Houston. Joshua was a Texas delegate at the 1884 Republican National Convention.[2] He helped establish the Bishop Ward Normal and Collegiate Institute.[3]

Joshua Houston
Died1902 (age 80)
Resting placeOakwood Cemetery, Huntsville
Known forFormer slave of Sam Houston

Sam Houston slavesEdit

The story of Sam Houston freeing his slaves before his 1863 death, in particular Joshua, has been passed down through history, and is recounted in various books. In From Slave To Statesman, author Patricia Smith Prather depicts Houston reading a newspaper story to his slaves in the fall of 1862, about Abraham Lincoln's September 1862 Emancipation Proclamation, telling them they would all be free as of January 1, 1863.[4] The Emancipation Proclamation was not announced in Texas until June 1865, Juneteenth,[5] two months after Robert E. Lee surrendered at Appomattox. In 1861, the Texas legislature amended its Constitution of 1845, making it illegal to free slaves in the state.[6]

No citizen, or other person residing in this State, shall have power by deed, or will, to take effect in this State, or out of it, in any manner whatsoever, directly or indirectly, to emancipate his slave or slaves.

— Texas Constitution, amended 1861, Article VIII, Section 2

When Houston died in 1863, his slaves were part of the inventory of his estate and valued at $10,530.[7][8] Joshua's son Samuel Walker Houston was born in February 1864, seven months after Sam Houston's death, and is always referred to as having been born into slavery.[9]


Joshua Houston died in 1902 and was buried at Oakwood Cemetery in Huntsville, the same cemetery where Sam Houston is buried.[1]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b Monday, Jane (15 June 2010). "Houston, Joshua". Handbook of Texas Online. exas State Historical Association. Retrieved April 22, 2019.
  2. ^ "Delegates and Alternates". Official Proceedings of the Republican National Convention Held June 3–6, 1884. Charles W. Johnson: 102. Archived from the original on 2015-11-26. Retrieved 2016-03-31. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  3. ^ Barr, Alwyn (2004). The African Texans. TAMU Press. pp. 58, 59. ISBN 978-1-58544-350-5.
  4. ^ Highsmith (1996) p.71
  5. ^ "Junteenth". Texas State Library and Archives. Archived from the original on 20 February 2012. Retrieved 11 March 2012. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  6. ^ "Article VIII, Section 2". Texas Constitution amended 1861. Tarlton Law Library. Archived from the original on 27 August 2016. Retrieved 11 March 2012. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  7. ^ Williams, John Hoyt (1984). Sam Houston: The Life and Times of the Liberator of Texas, an Authentic American Hero. Touchstone. p. 363. ISBN 978-0-671-88071-2.
  8. ^ Roberts, Madge Thornell (2001). The Personal Correspondence of Sam Houston, Volume IV, 1852–1863. University of North Texas Press. p. 113. ISBN 978-1-57441-084-6.
  9. ^ Lucko, Paul M. "Samuel Walker Houston". Handbook of Texas Online. Texas State Historical Association. Archived from the original on 21 January 2012. Retrieved 10 March 2012. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit