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Historically Speaking

Historically Speaking: Soldier, Statesmen, Revolutionary

By Tom Morrow

Samuel “Sam” Houston was an extraordinary American politician and soldier, best known for his role in bringing Texas into the United States as a state. His victory at the Battle of San Jacinto secured the independence of Texas from Mexico.

Houston was the only American to be elected governor of two different states; he also was the only governor within a future Confederate state to oppose secession and to refuse an oath of allegiance to the Confederacy, a decision that led to his removal from office by the Texas secession convention.

Houston was born March 2, 1793 at Timber Ridge Plantation in Rockbridge County, Virginia. After moving to Tennessee, he spent time with the Cherokee Nation (into which he later was adopted as a citizen and married a Cherokee woman). He served in the U.S. military during the War of 1812, and in 1827, was elected Governor of Tennessee. In 1829, Houston resigned as Tennessee governor and moved to Arkansas Territory.

Shortly afterward an altercation with a U.S. Congressman, Houston relocated to Texas, then a Mexican state, and became a leader of the Texas Revolution. After the war, Houston became a key figure in Texas and was elected as the first and third President of the Republic of Texas. He supported annexation by the United States and after annexation in 1845, he became a U.S. Senator and finally a governor of Texas in 1859, whereby becoming the only person to have been the governor of two different U.S. states through popular election, as well as the only state governor to have been a head of foreign state (in the Texas Republic).

Houston’s namesake city has become the fourth largest in the U.S. Sam Houston’s reputation was sufficiently large that he was honored in numerous ways after his death, among them: a memorial museum, several U.S. naval vessels, including an auxiliary ship, (AK-1), a light cruiser, (CL-81); and two nuclear submarines, (SSBN-609, and SSN-713). Also, a U.S. Army base (Fort Sam Houston), a national forest, a historical park, a university, and a prominent roadside statue outside of Huntsville, Texas, his adopted hometown.

Houston died July 26, 1863, in Huntsville. As for his politics, Houston was all over the place. He was a member of the “Know Nothing” party, as well as a Democrat, and ended up being an Independent, which perfectly described his actions and personality.

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