Sam Houston

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Sam Houston
Sam Houston c1850-crop.jpg
Sam Houston, c.1850
7th Governor of Texas
In office
December 21, 1859 March 16, 1861
LieutenantEdward Clark
Preceded by Hardin Richard Runnels
Succeeded by Edward Clark
United States Senator
from Texas
In office
February 21, 1846 March 3, 1859
Preceded bySeat established
Succeeded by John Hemphill
1st and 3rd President of the
Republic of Texas
In office
December 21, 1841 December 9, 1844
Vice President Edward Burleson
Preceded by Mirabeau B. Lamar
Succeeded by Anson Jones
In office
October 22, 1836 December 10, 1838
Vice President Mirabeau B. Lamar
Preceded by David G. Burnet (ad interim)
Succeeded by Mirabeau B. Lamar
Member of the TexasHouseofRepresentatives
from the San Augustine district
In office
6th Governor of Tennessee
In office
October 1, 1827 April 16, 1829
Lieutenant William Hall
Preceded by William Carroll
Succeeded by William Hall
Member of the U.S.HouseofRepresentatives
from Tennessee's 7th district
In office
March 4, 1823 March 3, 1827
Preceded byConstituency established
Succeeded by John Bell
Personal details
Born(1793-03-02)March 2, 1793
Rockbridge County, Virginia, U.S.
DiedJuly 26, 1863(1863-07-26) (aged 70)
Huntsville, Texas
Resting placeOakwood Cemetery
Huntsville, Texas, U.S.
Political party Democratic-Republican (before 1830)
Democratic (1846–1854)
Know Nothing (1855–1856)
Independent (after 1856)
Signature Sam Houston signature.svg
Military service
Allegiance United States of America
Republic of Texas
Branch/service United States Army
Texian Army
Years of serviceU.S. Army: 1813–1818
Texian Army: 1835–1836
RankU.S. Army: First lieutenant
Texian Army: Major general
UnitU.S. Army: 39th Infantry Regiment
CommandsTexian Army: Army of the Republic of Texas

Sam Houston (March 2, 1793 July 26, 1863) was an American soldier and politician. An important leader of the Texas Revolution, Houston served as the 1st and 3rd president of the Republic of Texas, and was one of the first two individuals to represent Texas in the United States Senate. He also served as the 6th Governor of Tennessee and the seventh governor of Texas, the only American to be elected governor of two different states in the United States.

A politician is a person active in party politics, or a person holding or seeking office in government. Politicians propose, support and create laws or policies that govern the land and, by extension, its people. Broadly speaking, a "politician" can be anyone who seeks to achieve political power in any bureaucratic institution.

Texas Revolution military conflict

The Texas Revolution was a rebellion of colonists from the United States and Tejanos in putting up armed resistance to the centralist government of Mexico. While the uprising was part of a larger one that included other provinces opposed to the regime of President Antonio López de Santa Anna, the Mexican government believed the United States had instigated the Texas insurrection with the goal of annexation. The Mexican Congress passed the Tornel Decree, declaring that any foreigners fighting against Mexican troops "will be deemed pirates and dealt with as such, being citizens of no nation presently at war with the Republic and fighting under no recognized flag." Only the province of Texas succeeded in breaking with Mexico, establishing the Republic of Texas, and eventually being annexed by the United States.

President of the Republic of Texas

The President of the Republic of Texas was the head of state and head of government while Texas was an independent republic between 1836 and 1845.


Born in Rockbridge County, Virginia, Houston and his family migrated to Maryville, Tennessee when Houston was a teenager. Houston later ran away from home and spent time with the Cherokee, becoming known as "Raven." He served under General Andrew Jackson in the War of 1812, and after the war he presided over the removal of many Cherokee from Tennessee. With the support of Jackson and others, Houston won election to the United States House of Representatives in 1823. He strongly supported Jackson's presidential candidacies, and in 1827 Houston won election as the governor of Tennessee. In 1829, after divorce his first wife, Houston resigned from office, and joined his Cherokee friends in Arkansas Territory.

Rockbridge County, Virginia County in the United States

Rockbridge County is a county located in the Commonwealth of Virginia. As of the 2010 census, the population was 22,307. Its county seat is Lexington. The independent cities of Buena Vista (6,680) and Lexington (7,170) are both enclaved within the county's geographical borders.

Maryville, Tennessee City in Tennessee, United States

Maryville is a city and the county seat of Blount County, Tennessee, in the southeastern United States. Its population was 27,465 at the 2010 census.

The Cherokee are one of the indigenous people of the Southeastern Woodlands of the United States. Prior to the 18th century, they were concentrated in what is now southwestern North Carolina, southeastern Tennessee, and the tips of western South Carolina and northeastern Georgia.

Houston settled in Texas in 1832. After the Battle of Gonzales, Houston helped organize Texas's provisional government and was selected as the top-ranking official in the Texian Army. He led the Texian Army to victory at the Battle of San Jacinto, the decisive battle in Texas's war for independence against Mexico. After the war, Houston won election in the 1836 Texas presidential election. He left office due to term limits in 1838, but won election to another term in the 1841 Texas presidential election. Houston played a key role in the annexation of Texas by the United States in 1845, and in 1846 he was elected to represent Texas in the United States Senate. He joined the Democratic Party and supported President James K. Polk's prosecution of the Mexican–American War.

Battle of Gonzales first military engagement of the Texas Revolution

The Battle of Gonzales was the first military engagement of the Texas Revolution. It was fought near Gonzales, Texas, on October 2, 1835, between rebellious Texian settlers and a detachment of Mexican army soldiers.

Texian Army Army that fought for the independence of what became the Republic of Texas

The Texian Army, also known as the Army of Texas and the Army of the People, was a military organization consisting of volunteer and regular soldiers who fought against the Mexican army during the Texas Revolution. Approximately 3,700 men joined the army between October 2, 1835, during the Battle of Gonzales through the end of the war on April 21, 1836, at the Battle of San Jacinto. After gaining independence the Texian Army would be officially known as the Army of the Republic of Texas. In 1846, after the annexation of Texas by the United States, the Army of the Republic of Texas merged with the US Army. Sam Houston became the new commander in chief of the new Texas army.

Battle of San Jacinto decisive battle of the Texas Revolution

The Battle of San Jacinto, fought on April 21, 1836, in present-day Harris County, Texas, was the decisive battle of the Texas Revolution. Led by General Sam Houston, the Texian Army engaged and defeated General Antonio López de Santa Anna's Mexican army in a fight that lasted just 18 minutes. A detailed, first-hand account of the battle was written by General Houston from Headquarters of the Texian Army, San Jacinto, on April 25, 1836. Numerous secondary analyses and interpretations have followed, several of which are cited and discussed throughout this entry.

Houston's Senate record was marked by his unionism and opposition to extremists from both the North and South. He voted for the Compromise of 1850, which settled many of the territorial issues left over from the Mexican–American War and the annexation of Texas. He later voted against the Kansas–Nebraska Act because he believed it would lead to increased sectional tensions over slavery, and his opposition to that act led him to leave the Democratic Party. He was an unsuccessful candidate for the presidential nomination of the American Party in the 1856 presidential election and the Constitutional Union Party in the 1860 presidential election. In 1859, Houston won election as the governor of Texas. In that role, he opposed secession and unsuccessfully sought to keep Texas out of the Confederate States of America. He was forced out of office in 1861 and died in 1863. Houston's name has been honored in numerous ways, and he is the namesake of the city of Houston, the fourth most populous city in the United States.

Compromise of 1850 Compromise on slavery in U.S. territories annexed from Mexico in the Mexican-American war

The Compromise of 1850 was a package of five separate bills passed by the United States Congress in September 1850, which defused a four-year political confrontation between slave and free states on the status of territories acquired during the Mexican–American War (1846–1848). The compromise, drafted by Whig Senator Henry Clay of Kentucky and brokered by Clay and Democratic Senator Stephen Douglas of Illinois, reduced sectional conflict, although controversy eventually arose over the Fugitive Slave provision. Although the compromise was greeted with relief, each side disapproved of some of its specific provisions:

Kansas–Nebraska Act 1854 United States legislation promoted by Stephen A. Douglas which repealed the Missouri Compromise line and disrupted the Compromise of 1850

The Kansas–Nebraska Act of 1854 was an organic act passed by the 33rd U.S. Congress that created the territories of Kansas and Nebraska and was drafted by Democratic Senator Stephen A. Douglas of Illinois and President Franklin Pierce. The initial purpose of the Kansas–Nebraska Act was to open up thousands of new farms and make feasible a Midwestern Transcontinental Railroad. In addition to creating the U.S. territories of Kansas and Nebraska, the Kansas–Nebraska Act also allowed each territory to decide, "under the concept of popular sovereignty, whether they wanted slavery or not." The Kansas–Nebraska Act effectively repealed the Missouri Compromise, which had prohibited slavery in all U.S. territories west of the Mississippi River and north of 36°30' latitude. The popular sovereignty clause of the law led pro- and anti-slavery elements to flood into Kansas with the goal of voting slavery up or down, resulting in a series of armed conflicts known as "Bleeding Kansas". Controversy surrounding the Kansas–Nebraska Act was a cause of the Civil War.

Know Nothing American political movement and party in the 19th century with anti-catholic tendency

The Native American Party, renamed the American Party in 1855 and commonly known as the Know Nothing movement, was an American nativist political party that operated nationally in the mid-1850s. It was primarily anti-Catholic, xenophobic, and hostile to immigration, starting originally as a secret society. The movement briefly emerged as a major political party in the form of the American Party. Adherents to the movement were to reply "I know nothing" when asked about its specifics by outsiders, thus providing the group with its common name.

Early life

Sam Houston Birthplace Marker in Rockbridge County, Virginia Houstonbirthplacemarker.jpg
Sam Houston Birthplace Marker in Rockbridge County, Virginia

Houston was born in Rockbridge County, Virginia on March 2, 1793, to Samuel Houston and Elizabeth Paxton. Both of Houston's parents were descended from British and Irish immigrants who had settled in British North America in the 1730s. [1] Houston's father was descended from Ulster Scots people; he could trace his ancestry to Sir Hugh de Paduinan, a Norman knight. [2] By 1793, the elder Samuel Houston owned a large farm and slaves, and served as a colonel in the Virginia militia.

British people citizens of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, British Overseas Territories, Crown Dependencies, and their descendants

The British people, or the Britons, are the citizens of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the British Overseas Territories, and the Crown dependencies. British nationality law governs modern British citizenship and nationality, which can be acquired, for instance, by descent from British nationals. When used in a historical context, "British" or "Britons" can refer to the Celtic Britons, the indigenous inhabitants of Great Britain and Brittany, whose surviving members are the modern Welsh people, Cornish people, and Bretons. It may also refer to citizens of the former British Empire.

Irish people Ethnic group with Celtic and other roots, native to the island of Ireland, with shared history and culture

The Irish are a Celtic nation and ethnic group native to the island of Ireland, who share a common Irish ancestry, identity and culture. Ireland has been inhabited for about 12,500 years according to archaeological studies. For most of Ireland's recorded history, the Irish have been primarily a Gaelic people. Viking invasions of Ireland during the 8th to 11th centuries established the cities of Dublin, Wexford, Waterford, Cork and Limerick. Anglo-Normans conquered parts of Ireland in the 12th century, while England's 16th/17th-century (re)conquest and colonisation of Ireland brought a large number of English and Lowland Scots people to parts of the island, especially the north. Today, Ireland is made up of the Republic of Ireland and the smaller Northern Ireland. The people of Northern Ireland hold various national identities including British, Irish, Northern Irish or some combination thereof.

British North America Former British imperial territories

The term "British North America" refers to the former territories of the British Empire in North America, not including the Caribbean. The term was first used informally in 1783, but it was uncommon before the Report on the Affairs of British North America (1839), called the Durham Report. These territories today form modern-day Canada and the Pacific Northwest of the United States.

Houston's uncle, the Presbyterian Rev. Samuel Houston, was an elected member of the "lost" State of Franklin then in the western frontier of North Carolina, who advocated for the passage of his proposed "A Declaration of Rights or Form of Government on the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Frankland" at the convention that was assembled in Greeneville on November 14, 1785. Rev. Houston returned to Rockbridge County, Virginia after the assembled State of Franklin convention rejected his constitutional proposal. [3]

State of Franklin Former unrecognized US territory

The State of Franklin was an unrecognized and autonomous territory located in what is today Eastern Tennessee, United States. Franklin was created in 1784 from part of the territory west of the Appalachian Mountains that had been offered by North Carolina as a cession to Congress to help pay off debts related to the American War for Independence. It was founded with the intent of becoming the fourteenth state of the new United States.

North Carolina State of the United States of America

North Carolina is a state in the southeastern region of the United States. It borders South Carolina and Georgia to the south, Tennessee to the west, Virginia to the north, and the Atlantic Ocean to the east. North Carolina is the 28th-most extensive and the 9th-most populous of the U.S. states. The state is divided into 100 counties. The capital is Raleigh, which along with Durham and Chapel Hill is home to the largest research park in the United States. The most populous municipality is Charlotte, which is the second-largest banking center in the United States after New York City.

Greeneville, Tennessee Town in Tennessee, United States

Greeneville is a town in, and the county seat of Greene County, Tennessee, United States. The population as of the 2010 census was 15,062. The town was named in honor of Revolutionary War hero Nathanael Greene. It is the only town with this spelling in the United States, although there are numerous U.S. towns named Greenville. The town was the capital of the short-lived State of Franklin in the 18th-century history of the Tennessee region.

Houston had five brothers and three sisters, as well as dozens of cousins who lived in the surrounding area. According to biographer John Hoyt Williams, Houston was not close with his siblings or his parents, and he rarely spoke of them in his later life. [1] Houston did take an interest in his father's library, however, reading works by classical authors like Virgil, as well as more recent works by authors such as Jedidiah Morse. [4]

Houston's father was not a good manager and got into debt, in part because of his militia service. [5] He planned to sell the farm and move west to Tennessee, where land was less expensive, but he died in 1806. Houston's mother followed through on those plans and settled the family near Maryville, the seat of Blount County, Tennessee. At that time, Tennessee was on the American frontier, and even larger towns like Nashville were vigilant against Native American raids. Houston disliked farming and working in the family store, and at the age of sixteen he left his family to live with a Cherokee tribe led by Ahuludegi (also spelled Oolooteka). [6] Houston formed a close relationship with Ahuludegi and learned the Cherokee language, becoming known as "Raven." [7] He returned to Maryville in 1812, and he was hired at age 19 for a term as the schoolmaster of a one-room schoolhouse. [8]

War of 1812 and aftermath

In 1812, Houston enlisted in the United States Army, which was then engaged in the War of 1812 against Britain and Britain's Native American allies. He quickly impressed the commander of the 39th Infantry Regiment, Thomas Hart Benton, and by the end of 1813, Houston had risen to the rank of the third lieutenant. In early 1814, the 39th Infantry Regiment became a part of the force commanded General Andrew Jackson, who was charged with putting an end to raids by a faction of the Muscogee (or "Creek") tribe in the Old Southwest. [9] Houston was badly wounded in the Battle of Horseshoe Bend, the decisive battle in the Creek War. Although army doctors expected him to die of his wounds, Houston survived and convalesced in Maryville and other locations. While many other officers lost their positions after the end of the War of 1812 due to military cutbacks, Houston retained his commission with the help of Congressman John Rhea. [10]

In early 1817, Houston was assigned to a clerical position in Nashville, serving under the adjutant general for the army's Southern Division. Later in the year, Jackson appointed Houston as a sub-agent to handle the removal of Cherokee from East Tennessee. [11] In February 1818, he received a strong reprimand from Secretary of War John C. Calhoun after he wore Native American dress to a meeting between Calhoun and Cherokee leaders, beginning an enmity that would last until Calhoun's death in 1850. [12] Angry over the incident with Calhoun and an investigation into his activities, Houston resigned from the army in 1818. He continued to act as a government liaison with the Cherokee, and in 1818 he helped some of the Cherokee resettle in Arkansas Territory. [13]

Early political career

After leaving government service, Houston began an apprenticeship with Judge James Trimble in Nashville. He quickly won admission to the state bar and opened a legal practice in Lebanon, Tennessee. With the aid of Governor Joseph McMinn, Houston won election as the solicitor general for Nashville in 1819. He was also appointed as the adjutant general of the Tennessee militia. [14] Like his mentors, Houston was a member of the Democratic-Republican Party, which dominated state and national politics in the decade following the War of 1812.[ citation needed ] Tennessee gained three seats in the United States House of Representatives after the 1820 United States Census, and, with the support of Jackson and McMinn, Houston ran unopposed in the 1823 election for Tennessee's 9th congressional district. [15] In his first major speech in Congress, Houston advocated for the recognition of Greece, which was fighting a war of independence against the Ottoman Empire. [16]

Houston strongly supported Jackson's candidacy in the 1824 presidential election, which saw four major candidates, all from the Democratic-Republican Party, run for president. As no candidate won a majority of the vote, the House of Representatives held a contingent election, which was won by John Quincy Adams. [17] Supporters of Jackson would eventually coalesce into the Democratic Party, while those who favored Adams would become known as National Republicans. With Jackson's backing, Houston won election as Governor of Tennessee in 1827. [18] Governor Houston advocated the construction of internal improvements such as canals, and sought to lower the price of land for homesteaders living on public domain. He also aided Jackson's successful campaign in the 1828 presidential election. [19]

In January 1829, Houston married Eliza Allen, the daughter of wealthy plantation owner John Allen of Gallatin, Tennessee. The marriage quickly fell apart, possibly because Eliza loved another man. [20] In April 1829, following the collapse of his marriage, Houston resigned as governor of Tennessee. Shortly after leaving office, he traveled to Arkansas Territory to rejoin the Cherokee. [21]

Political exile and controversy

Houston was reunited with Ahuludegi's group of Cherokee in mid-1829. [22] Because of Houston's experience in government and his connections with President Jackson, several local Native American tribes asked Houston to mediate disputes and communicate their needs to the Jackson administration. [23] In late 1829, the Cherokee accorded Houston tribal membership and dispatched him to Washington to negotiate several issues. [24] In anticipation of the removal of the remaining Cherokee east of the Mississippi River, Houston made an unsuccessful bid to supply rations to the Native Americans during their journey. [25] When Houston returned to Washington in 1832, Congressman William Stanbery alleged that Houston had placed a fraudulent bid in 1830 in collusion with the Jackson administration. After Stanbery refused to answer Houston's letters regarding the incident, Houston beat Stanbery with a cane. [26] After the beating, the House of Representatives brought Houston to trial. By a vote of 106 to 89, the House convicted Houston, and Speaker of the House Andrew Stevenson formally reprimanded Houston. A federal court also required Houston to pay $500 in damages. [27]

Texas Revolution

General Sam Houston (postcard, circa 1905) General Sam Houston, the hero of San Jacinto.jpg
General Sam Houston (postcard, circa 1905)

In mid-1832, Houston's friends, William H. Wharton and John Austin Wharton, wrote to convince him to travel to the Mexican possession of Texas, where unrest among the American settlers was growing. [28] The Mexican government had invited Americans to settle the sparsely populated region of Texas, but many of the settlers, including the Whartons, disliked Mexican rule. Houston crossed into Texas in December 1832, and shortly thereafter he was granted land in Texas. [29] Houston was elected to represent Nacogdoches at the Convention of 1833, which was called to petition Mexico for statehood (at the time, Texas was part of the state of Coahuila y Tejas). Houston strongly supported statehood, and he chaired a committee that drew up a proposed state constitution. [30] After the convention, Texan leader Stephen F. Austin petitioned the Mexican government for statehood, but he was unable to come to an agreement with President Valentín Gómez Farías. In 1834, Antonio López de Santa Anna assumed the presidency, took on new powers, and arrested Austin. [31] In October 1835, the Texas Revolution broke out with the Battle of Gonzales, a skirmish between Texan forces and the Mexican Army. Shortly after the battle, Houston was elected to the Consultation, a congregation of Texas leaders. [32]

Along with Austin and others, Houston helped organize the Consultation into a provisional government for Texas. In November, Houston joined with most other delegates in voting for a measure that demanded Texas statehood and the restoration of the 1824 Constitution of Mexico. The Consultation appointed Houston as a major general and the highest-ranking officer of the Texian Army, though the appointment did not give him effective control of the militia units that constituted the Texian Army. [33] Houston helped organize the Convention of 1836, where the Republic of Texas declared independence from Mexico. Shortly after the declaration, the convention received a plea for assistance from William B. Travis, who commanded Texan forces under siege by Santa Anna at the Alamo. The convention confirmed Houston's command of the Texian Army and dispatched him to lead a relief of Travis's force, but the Alamo fell before Houston could organize his forces at Gonzales, Texas. Seeking to intimidate Texan forces into surrender, the Mexican army killed every defender at the Alamo; news of the defeat outraged many Texans but also caused desertions in Houston's ranks. [34] Commanding a force of about 350 men that was numerically inferior to that of Santa Anna, Houston retreated east across the Colorado River. [35]

Sam Houston at San Jacinto.jpg
Detail from Houston at the Battle of San Jacinto by Henry Arthur McArdle
Surrender of Santa Anna by William Henry Huddle shows the Mexican general Santa Anna surrendering to a wounded Sam Houston. It hangs in the Texas State Capitol.

Though the provisional government, as well as many of his own subordinates, urged him to attack the Mexican army, Houston continued the retreat east, informing his soldiers that they constituted "the only army in Texas now present ... There are but a few of us, and if we are beaten, the fate of Texas is sealed." [36] [lower-alpha 1] Santa Anna divided his forces and finally caught up to Houston in mid-April 1836. [38] Santa Anna's force of about 1350 soldiers trapped Houston's force of 783 men in a marsh; rather than pressing the attack, Santa Anna ordered his soldiers to make camp. On the April 21, Houston ordered an attack on the Mexican army, beginning the Battle of San Jacinto. The Texans quickly routed Santa Anna's force, though Houston's ankle was shattered by a stray bullet. [39] In the aftermath of the Battle of San Jacinto, a detachment of Texans captured Santa Anna. [40] Santa Anna was forced to sign the Treaty of Velasco, granting Texas its independence. Houston stayed on briefly for negotiations, then returned to the United States for treatment of his ankle wound.[ citation needed ]

President of Texas

The Republic of Texas after the Texas Revolution Wpdms republic of texas.svg
The Republic of Texas after the Texas Revolution

Victory in the Battle of San Jacinto made Houston a hero to many Texans, and he won the 1836 Texas presidential election, defeating Stephen F. Austin and former governor Henry Smith. Houston took office on October 22, 1836, after interim president David G. Burnet resigned. [41] During the presidential election, the voters of Texas overwhelmingly indicated their desire for Texas to be annexed by the United States. Houston, meanwhile, faced the challenge of assembling a new government, putting the country's finances in order, and handling relations with Mexico. He selected Thomas Jefferson Rusk as secretary of war, Smith as secretary of the treasury, Samuel Rhoads Fisher as secretary of the navy, James Collinsworth as attorney general, and Austin as secretary of state. [42] [lower-alpha 2] Houston sought normalized relations with Mexico and, despite some resistance from the legislature, arranged the release of Santa Anna. [44] Concerned about upsetting the balance between slave states and free states, U.S. President Andrew Jackson refused to push for the annexation of Texas, but in his last official act in office he granted Texas diplomatic recognition. [45] With the United States unwilling to annex Texas, Houston began courting British support; as part of this effort, he urged the end of the importation of slaves into Texas. [46]

Sam Houston SHouston 2.jpg
Sam Houston

In early 1837, the government moved to a new capital, Houston, named for the country's first president. [47] In 1838, Houston frequently clashed with Congress over issues such as a treaty with the Cherokee and a land-office act. [48] The Texas constitution barred presidents from seeking a second term, so Houston did not stand for re-election in the 1838 election and left office in late 1838. He was succeeded by Mirabeau B. Lamar, who, along with Burnet, led a faction of Texas politicians opposed to Houston. [49] The Lamar administration removed many of Houston's appointees, launched a war against the Cherokee, and established a new capital, Austin. [50] Meanwhile, Houston opened a legal practice and co-founded a land company with the intent of developing the town of Sabine City. [51] In 1839, he was elected to represent San Augustine County in the Texas House of Representatives. [52]

Houston defeated Burnet in the 1841 Texas presidential election, winning a large majority of the vote. [53] Houston appointed Anson Jones as secretary of state, Asa Brigham as secretary of the treasury, George Washington Hockley as secretary of war, and George Whitfield Terrell as attorney general. [54] The republic faced a difficult financial situation; at one point, Houston commandeered an American brig used to transport Texas soldiers because the government could not afford to pay the brig's captain. [55] The Santa Fe Expedition and other initiatives pursued by Lamar had stirred up tensions with Mexico, and rumors frequently raised fears that Santa Anna would launch an invasion of Texas. [56] Houston continued to curry favor with Britain and France, partly in the hope that British and French influence in Texas would encourage the United States to annex Texas. [57] The Tyler administration made the annexation of Texas its chief foreign policy priority, and in April 1844 Texas and the United States signed an annexation treaty. Annexation did not have sufficient support in Congress, and the United States Senate rejected the treaty in June. [58]

Henry Clay and Martin Van Buren, the respective front-runners for the Whig and Democratic nominations in the 1844 presidential election, both opposed the annexation of Texas. However, Van Buren's opposition to annexation damaged his candidacy, and he was defeated by James K. Polk, an acolyte of Jackson and an old friend of Houston's, at the 1844 Democratic National Convention. Polk went on to defeat Clay in the general election, giving backers of annexation an electoral mandate. Meanwhile, Houston's term ended in December 1844, and he was succeeded by his secretary of state, Anson Jones. In the waning days of his own presidency, Tyler used Polk's victory to convince Congress to approve of the annexation of Texas. Seeking Texas's immediate acceptance of annexation, Tyler made Texas a generous offer that allowed the state to retain control of its public lands, though it would also be required to keep its public debt. [59] A Texas convention approved of the offer of annexation in July 1845, and Texas became a U.S. state in February 1846. [60]

U.S. Senator

Mexican–American War and aftermath (1846–1853)

The United States in 1849, with the full extent of Texas's land claims shown United States 1849-1850.png
The United States in 1849, with the full extent of Texas's land claims shown

In February 1846, shortly before Texas became a state, the Texas legislature elected Houston and Thomas Jefferson Rusk as Texas's two inaugural U.S. senators. Houston chose to align with the Democratic Party, which contained many of his old political allies, including President Polk. [61] As a former President of Texas, Houston is the most recent former foreign head of state to serve in the U.S. Congress.[ citation needed ] He was the first person to serve as the governor of a state and then be elected to the U.S. Senate by another state. In 2018, Mitt Romney became the second. [62] William W. Bibb accomplished the same feat in reverse order.

Breaking with the Senate tradition that held that freshman senators were not to address the Senate, in early 1846 Houston strongly advocated for the annexation of Oregon Country. In the Oregon Treaty, which was reached later in 1846, Britain and the United States agreed to split Oregon Country. [63] Meanwhile, Polk ordered General Zachary Taylor to lead a U.S. army to the Rio Grande River, which had been set as the Texas-Mexico border under the Treaty of Velasco; Mexico claimed the Nueces River constituted the true border. After a skirmish between Taylor's unit and the Mexican army, the Mexican–American War broke out in April 1846. Houston initially supported Polk's prosecution of the war, but differences between the two men emerged in 1847. [64] After two years of fighting, the United States defeated Mexico and, through the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, acquired the Mexican Cession. Mexico also agreed to recognize the Rio Grande River as the border between Mexico and Texas.[ citation needed ]

After the war, disputes over the extension of slavery into the territories raised sectional tensions. Unlike most of his Southern colleagues, Houston voted for the Oregon Bill of 1848, which organized Oregon Territory as a free territory. Defending his vote to create a territory that excluded slavery, Houston stated, "I would be the last man to wish to do anything injurious to the South, but I do not think that on all occasions we are justified in agitating [slavery]." [65] He criticized both Northern abolitionists and Democratic followers of Calhoun as extremists who sought to undermine the union. [66] He supported the Compromise of 1850, a sectional compromise on slavery on the territories. Under the compromise, California was admitted as a free state, the slave trade was prohibited in the District of Columbia, a more stringent fugitive slave law was passed, and Utah Territory and New Mexico Territory were established. Texas gave up some of its claims on New Mexico, but it retained El Paso, and the United States assumed Texas's large public debt. [67] Houston sought the Democratic nomination in the 1852 presidential election, but he was unable to consolidate support outside of his home state. The 1852 Democratic National Convention ultimately nominated a compromise nominee, Franklin Pierce, who went on to win the election. [68]

Pierce and Buchanan administrations (1853–1859)

Houston in 1859 Sam Houston c1856-59-crop.png
Houston in 1859

In 1854, Senator Stephen A. Douglas led the passage of the Kansas–Nebraska Act, which organized Kansas Territory and Nebraska Territory. The act also repealed the Missouri Compromise, an act that had banned slavery in territories north of parallel 36°30′ north. Houston voted against the act, in part because he believed that Native Americans would lose much of their land as a result of the act. He also perceived that it would lead to increased sectional tensions over slavery. [69] Houston's opposition to the Kansas–Nebraska Act led to his departure from the Democratic Party. [70] In 1855, Houston began to be publicly associated with the American Party, the political wing of the nativist and unionist Know Nothing movement. [71] The Whig Party had collapsed after the passage of the Kansas–Nebraska Act, and the Know Nothings and the anti-slavery Republican Party had both emerged as major political movements. [72] Houston's affiliation with the party stemmed in part from his fear of the growing influence of Catholic voters; though he opposed barring Catholics from holding office, he wanted to extend the naturalization period for immigrants to twenty-one years. [73] He was also attracted to the Know Nothing's support for a Native American state, as well the party's unionist stance. [74]

Houston sought the presidential nomination at the Know Nothing party's 1856 national convention, but the party nominated former President Millard Fillmore. Houston was disappointed by Fillmore's selection as well as the party platform, which did not rebuke the Kansas–Nebraska Act, but he eventually decided to support Fillmore's candidacy. Despite Houston's renewed support, the American Party split over slavery, and Democrat James Buchanan won the 1856 presidential election. The American Party collapsed after the election, and Houston did not affiliate with a national political party for the remainder of his Senate tenure. [75] In the 1857 Texas gubernatorial election, Texas Democrats nominated Hardin Richard Runnels, who supported the Kansas–Nebraska Act and attacked Houston's record. In response, Houston announced his own candidacy for governor, but Runnels defeated him by a decisive margin. [76] After the gubernatorial election, the Texas legislature denied Houston re-election in the Senate; Houston rejected calls to resign immediately and served until the end of his term in early 1859. [77]

Governor of Texas

Sam Houston in 1861. Sam Houston by Mathew Brady.jpg
Sam Houston in 1861.

Houston ran against Runnels in the 1859 gubernatorial election. Capitalizing on Runnels's unpopularity over state issues such as Native American raids, Houston won the election and took office in December 1859. [78] In the 1860 presidential election, Houston and John Bell were the two major contenders for the presidential nomination of the newly-formed Constitutional Union Party, which consisted largely of Southern unionists. Houston narrowly trailed Bell on the first ballot of the 1860 Constitutional Union Convention, but Bell clinched the nomination on the second ballot. [79] Nonetheless, some of Houston's Texan supporters nominated him for president in April 1860. Other backers attempted to launch a nationwide campaign, but in August 1860 Houston announced that he would not be a candidate for president. He refused to endorse any of the remaining presidential candidates. [80] In late 1860, Houston campaigned across his home state, calling on Texans to resist those who advocated for secession if Republican nominee Abraham Lincoln won the 1860 election. [81]

After Lincoln won the November 1860 presidential election, several Southern states seceded from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America. [82] A Texas convention voted to secede from the United States on February 1, 1861, and Houston proclaimed that Texas was once again an independent republic, but he refused to recognize that same convention's authority to join Texas to the Confederacy. After Houston refused to swear an oath of loyalty to the Confederacy, the legislature declared the governorship vacant. Houston did not recognize the validity of his removal, but he did not attempt to use force to remain in office, and he refused aid from the federal government to prevent his removal. His successor, Edward Clark, was sworn in on March 18. [83] In an undelivered speech, Houston wrote:

Fellow-Citizens, in the name of your rights and liberties, which I believe have been trampled upon, I refuse to take this oath. In the name of the nationality of Texas, which has been betrayed by the Convention, I refuse to take this oath. In the name of the Constitution of Texas, I refuse to take this oath. In the name of my own conscience and manhood, which this Convention would degrade by dragging me before it, to pander to the malice of my enemies, I refuse to take this oath. I deny the power of this Convention to speak for Texas. ... I protest. ... against all the acts and doings of this convention and I declare them null and void. [84]

On April 19, 1861, he told a crowd:

Let me tell you what is coming. After the sacrifice of countless millions of treasure and hundreds of thousands of lives, you may win Southern independence if God be not against you, but I doubt it. I tell you that, while I believe with you in the doctrine of states rights, the North is determined to preserve this Union. They are not a fiery, impulsive people as you are, for they live in colder climates. But when they begin to move in a given direction, they move with the steady momentum and perseverance of a mighty avalanche; and what I fear is, they will overwhelm the South. [85]

Retirement and death

Houston's grave in Huntsville, Texas. Sam Houston Grave.jpg
Houston's grave in Huntsville, Texas.

After leaving office, Houston returned to his home in Galveston. [86] He later settled in Huntsville, Texas, where he lived in a structure known as the Steamboat House. In the midst of the Civil War, Houston was shunned by many Texas leaders, though he continued to correspond with Confederate officer Ashbel Smith and Texas governor Francis Lubbock. His son, Sam Houston, Jr., served in the Confederate army during the Civil War, but returned home after being wounded at the Battle of Shiloh. [87] Houston's health suffered a precipitous decline in April 1863, and he died on July 26, 1863, at 70 years of age . [88]

The inscription on Houston's tomb reads:

A Brave Soldier. A Fearless Statesman.
A Great Orator—A Pure Patriot.
A Faithful Friend, A Loyal Citizen.
A Devoted Husband and Father.
A Consistent Christian—An Honest Man.

Personal life

Margaret Lea Houston Margaret Lea Houston 1839.jpg
Margaret Lea Houston

Houston married Tiana Rogers (d. 1838), daughter of Chief John "Hellfire" Rogers (1740–1833), a Scots-Irish trader, and Jennie Due (1764–1806), a sister of Chief John Jolly, in a ceremony according to Cherokee customs. Tiana was in her mid-30s, of mixed-race, and a widow. She had two children from her previous marriage: Gabriel, born 1819, and Joanna, born 1822. She and Houston lived together for several years, though, under civil law, he was still legally married to Eliza Allen Houston.[ citation needed ] After declining to accompany Houston to Texas in 1832, Tiana later remarried. She died in 1838 of pneumonia. [89]

On May 9, 1840, Houston, aged 47, married for a third time. His bride was 21-year-old Margaret Moffette Lea of Marion, Alabama, the daughter of planters. They had eight children. Margaret acted as a tempering influence on her much older husband and convinced him to stop drinking. Although the Houstons had numerous houses, they kept only one continuously: Cedar Point (1840–1863) on Trinity Bay.[ citation needed ]

In 1833, Houston was baptized into the Catholic faith in order to qualify under the existing Mexican law for property ownership in Coahuila y Tejas. The sacrament was held in the living room of the Adolphus Sterne House in Nacogdoches. [90] By 1854, Margaret had spent 14 years trying to convert Houston to the Baptist church. With the assistance of George Washington Baines, she convinced Houston to convert, and he agreed to adult baptism. Spectators from neighboring communities came to Independence, Texas, to witness the event. On November 19, 1854, Houston was baptized by Rev. Rufus C. Burleson by immersion in Little Rocky Creek, two miles southeast of Independence. [91] [92]


Houston, the largest city in Texas, is named for Sam Houston. Several other things and places are also named for Houston, including Sam Houston State University, Houston County, Minnesota, Houston County, Tennessee, and Houston County, Texas. Other monuments and memorials include Sam Houston National Forest, Sam Houston Regional Library and Research Center, Fort Sam Houston, the USS Sam Houston (SSBN-609), and a sculpture of Houston in the city of Houston's Hermann Park. In addition, a 67-foot-tall replica of Houston, known as "Big Sam," stands next to I-45, between Dallas and Houston, in Huntsville, Texas. Along with Stephen F. Austin, Houston is one of two Texans with a statue in the National Statuary Hall. Houston has been portrayed in works such as Man of Conquest , Gone to Texas , Texas Rising , and The Alamo .

See also


  1. Another Texan force had been defeated at the Battle of Coleto; the Texans captured in that battle were subsequently massacred by order of Santa Anna. [37]
  2. After Austin died of an illness in December 1836, Houston ordered a month of mourning. [43]

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External video
Nuvola apps kaboodle.svg Booknotes interview with Marshall DeBruhl on Sword of San Jacinto: The Life of Sam Houston, May 2, 1993, C-SPAN

Works cited

Further reading