Gone to Texas
Gone to Texas (often abbreviated GTT), was a phrase used by Americans immigrating to Texas in the 19th century often to escape debt incurred during the Panic of 1819. Moving to Texas, which at the time was part of Mexico, was particularly popular among debtors from the South and West.
The phrase was often written on the doors of abandoned houses or posted as a sign on fences.
"In my last canvass, I told the people of my district, that, if they saw fit to re-elect me, I would serve them faithfully as I had done; but, if not, they might all go to h---, and I would go to Texas. I was beaten, gentlemen, and here I am."
Recently, the Governor's Office of Economic Development has revived the use of "Gone to Texas" as part of its plan to attract businesses to Texas under its current advertising campaign "Texas. Wide Open For Business".
In 1986, a TV movie aired on CBS entitled "Gone to Texas" which starred Sam Elliott as Sam Houston. The beginning of the movie was when Sam Houston, then Governor of Tennessee, got married. The brief marriage ended in a declared annulment, and Houston felt honor-bound to resign, with public opinion seeing him disgraced. He left Tennessee forever and went to live with his Cherokee Nation friends, where he then fell in love with and married an Indian. But then he was asked by the Indians to speak for them, because they were short-changed by the President, Andrew Jackson, in payment for lands they sold in Tennessee when they moved peacefully to the banks of the Arkansas River. This meant he had to travel to Washington. While in Washington, a fight ensued with a legislator who accused him of being greedy and wanting money for himself, not the Indians. Houston soundly trounced the legislator, and Congress responded by taking the action to accusing him of Contempt of Congress. This gave Houston a welcomed platform to plead the Indian's cause. After he successfully defended himself, President Jackson encouraged him (unofficially) to go to Texas and foster revolution. Although he arrived in Texas as a private citizen, he soon became influential in forging independence. When it was clear that a Mexican army was coming soon, Houston began to raise and train an army, but insisted that a government be formed immediately. Then he proceeded to encourage withdrawal in the face of the great danger he foresaw. He wanted the Alamo blown up and destroyed, rather than defended. When others wanted him to send his fledgling force to rescue the Alamo, he had to withstand accusations of being a coward. He began a skillful retreat that lasted more than a month. Burning resources where they passed, the retreat spread the Mexican army's supply line and their forces. Always facing controversy, he was able to conserve his forces, and in a surprise attack, his army won an enormous victory. Capturing the infamous Mexican dictator, Santana, was critical in that having Santana as a prisoner allowed Houston to have Santana write documents that ordered two other Mexican armies out of Texas and declared Texas independent from Mexico. The war was over, but Houston had been wounded in battle. In a vengeful pique, the first President of the Republic, the very man who had opposed all of Houston's tactics, summarily relieved Houston of his command. This man even tried to prevent Houston's passage on a river boat that was to take him to a hospital. The Captain, however, commanded that Houston be allowed on board, and a chorus of soldiers backed him up. The Narration at the end of the movie told of Houston's life after independence had been won for Texas; his many terms of public service in the offices of President of the Republic of Texas, as a Senator in Washington for Texas, and then as Governor of the State of Texas. An ironic or perhaps bitter-sweet note ended the movie when the narrator told of how Houston was forced out of the office of Governor when the Civil War began because he refused to pledge allegiance to the Confederacy, and that when he died in 1863, (while the Civil War was still raging) he thought his whole life had been a failure.
- National Gazette and Literary Register - December 29, 1825, "Col. Palmer is said to have taken French leave and gone to Texas." from online source, verified 2005-12-30.
- UTSA ITC Education Scrapbook - Texas the Shape and the Name, The University of Texas at San Antonio, Institute of Texan Cultures. 1996-2001, verified 2005-12-30.
- Samuel May Williams, Early Texas Entrepreneur, Margaret Swett Henson
- "G.T.T.", The Handbook of Texas Online. Also see Smith, Sidney (1850). The Settler's New Home : Or, Whether to Go, and Whither?. London: John Kendrick. p. 128. Retrieved 2009-05-27. discouraging emigration by noting that "'Gone to Texas' has become the proverb for a scamp#PPA674,M1 Thirty years' view; or, A history of the working of the American government for thirty years, from 1820 to 1850 (Vol. 1)Benton, Thomas Hart (1854), New York: D. Appleton and Company, p. 674 Missing or empty
|title=(help) Also see South-Western Immigration Company (Austin, Texas) (1881). Texas: Her Resources and Capabilities. New York: E.D. Slater. encouraging immigration and remarking on the "slang use" of the term a "generation ago" to refer to fugitives from justice.
- Niles' Weekly Register - April 9, 1836, "A gentleman from Nacogdoches, in Texas, informs us, that, whilst there, he dined in public with col. Crockett, who had just arrived from Tennessee. The old bear-hunter, on being toasted, made a speech to the Texians, replete with his usual dry humor. He began nearly in this style: "I am told, gentlemen, that, when a stranger, like myself,arrives among you, the first inquiry is -- what brought you here? To satisfy your curiosity at once as to myself, I will tell you all about it. I was, for some years, a member of congress. In my last canvass, I told the people of my district, that, if they saw fit to re-elect me, I would serve them faithfully as I had done; but, if not, they might all go to h---, and I would go to Texas. I was beaten, gentlemen, and here I am." The roar of applaus was like a thunder-burst."