Sam Houston Twice-Signed Collage

Presented is an original document, twice-signed by Sam Houston as President of Texas. Dating to April 4, 1844, Houston signed this one-page pay order as the third president of the Republic of Texas, in order to reimburse Dr. Jack Shackelford for his purchase of "1 Box Sperm Candles." Shackelford had made this purchase earlier in August 1842 as he helped the Republic defend against the Mexican invasions of that year. 

The document reads in full: "Genl Sam Houston, For Executive Contingents, to J. Shackelford, August 11, 1842, To 1 Box Sperm Candles 36.3 lbs 759 $27.56 par funds." Below the text of the invoice, Houston writes, "Approved 4th Apl. 1844 Sam Houston" with his distinctive paraph. Over the top of text he adds his bold signature ordering to "pay this, Sam Houston," again adding his elaborate paraph. "J. Shackelford" is written in the lower right corner. All text and signatures are in ink; Houston's signature is especially bold.

Sam Houston was a soldier, an important leader of the Texas Revolution, and an American politician. Many considered him the father of the Republic of Texas. During the Texas Revolution as the region fought for independence from Mexico, Houston proved himself a great military leader. Despite the crushing defeat at the Alamo, being outnumbered and under-equipped, Houston managed to lead his soldiers to capture the Mexican General Santa Anna, effectively ending the revolution. Houston served as both the first and third president of Texas before it became part of the United States and then as one of the first two Texan senators. 

Dr. Jack Shackelford (1790-1857) was an American doctor, politician and soldier. He famously raised and led a unit from Courtland, Alabama called the Red Rovers to fight in the Texas Revolution; he served as a commander under James Fannin. At the Goliad Massacre of 1836, the Mexican Army spared him from execution so he could care for the Mexican soldiers wounded during the Battle of Coleto, which occurred eight days before the massacre at Goliad. Shortly after this, Shackelford was sent to San Antonio de Bexar by his Mexican captors to care for the Mexican soldiers wounded at the Alamo. He wrote of his war experiences in a memoir entitled Some Few Notes upon a Part of the Texas War and his memoir is considered by many to be one of the finest and most accurate early accounts. In 1842, during Houston's second presidential term, Shackelford again helped Texas against an invading Mexican army. 

Spermaceti was a clean-burning, commercially-produced candle wax made from oil from the head of the sperm whale.  Brightly burning and odor-free, the spermaceti candle was the height of candle-making technology for Americans in the 18th and 19th centuries. Ranging from white to yellow, this higher-end wax was preferred as a non-staining option to tallow. Because of its lack of odor, bright light, and superior burning ability, spermaceti candles were preferred for any medical or highly technical use. Spermaceti was also used as a hardener in cosmetics. The perils associated with retrieving spermaceti from sperm whales, as well as the lengthy production process, kept the cost of the spermaceti candle high and allowed only the wealthiest of Americans to fully enjoy the benefits of this type of candle. Despite high cost, demand remained high through much of the 18th and 19th centuries, fueling the whaling industry well into the early 20th century.


Good condition. 1 page, Dated April 4, 1844. All text and signatures are in black ink; Houston's signature is especially bold. Light toning and soiling toward margins and in the blank portion, some minor marginal wear, minor tear only slightly affects one letter well clear of Houston's signature, partly separated fold repaired on verso, else very good. Document measures 9.75" x 8” W. 

Signed document has been artfully framed in a custom built, wooden and brushed gold beaded frame, with brown suede mats, a print of Mathew Brady’s 1860 photographic portrait of Sam Houston and a descriptive plaque. The collage has UV Conservation Clear glass and is framed to archival standards. Framed dimensions: 33 1/4" H x 17 3/4" W x 1 3/4" D.

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