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Samuel Houston
Samuel Houston
American, 1793 - 1863
Biography: Samuel Houston (1793-1863) was one of the most famous figures in the history of Texas. He was born 2 March 1793, the son of Samuel and Elizabeth Paxton Houston, on their plantation in Rockbridge County, Virginia. His family moved to Eastern Tennessee; in 1809, he ran away from home to live among the Cherokees. Sam Houston joined the Army during the War of 1812, on 24 March 1813; by December he was commissioned as a third lieutenant. He fought with Andrew Jackson's troops, and his courage won him the attention of the General, who became his benefactor. Sam Houston resigned from the Army on 1 March 1818. While recuperating from battle wounds, Sam Houston worked in the office of a judge in Nashville, Tennessee, and subsequently opened his own practice in Lebanon, Tennessee. With Andrew Jackson's endorsement, Houston was appointed to adjutant general of the state militia. In late 1818, he was elected Attorney General of the District of Nashville. Houston was elected to the U. S. House of Representatives. In 1827, Houston was elected Governor of Tennessee. Sam Houston married Eliza Allen on 22 January 1829, and soon after, announced his bid for reelection for governor. But eleven weeks after the wedding, his marriage fell apart, and Houston resigned as governor and fled west to the Indian Territory. Houston relocated to Oklahoma and settled again among the Cherokees. He became active in Indian affairs during his three-year stay, gaining Cherokee citizenship. He married Diana Rogers Gentry, a Native American woman of mixed blood. Houston became reinvolved in white society gradually, travelling to Tennessee, Washington D.C., and New York. He beat the United States Representative from Ohio with a hickory cane on the night of 13 April 1832 over a perceived insult. Houston was arrested, and subsequently received an official reprimand and a fine, but the event catapulted him back into the political arena. Sam Houston left his wife among the Cherokee on 2 December 1832 and relocated to Mexican Texas, quickly becoming embroiled in Anglo-Texans rebellion politics. He was appointed major general of the Texan Army on 12 November 1835. Houston was a delegate to the convention at Washington-on-the-Brazos, which adopted the Texas Declaration of Independence on 2 March 1836. Two days later he was appointed major general and instructed to organize the republic's military. Houston and his men defeated General Santa Anna at the decisive battle of San Jacinto on 21 April 1836. This victory made Houston's name as one of Texas' greatest heroes. Now known as "Old Sam Jacinto," Sam Houston became the first President of the Republic of Texas in 1836. He served two terms: 1836-1836 and 1841-1844. The city of Houston was founded in 1836 and named in his honor. After Texas became part of the United States, Houston served as a Senator from 1846-1859. As the Civil War loomed closer, Houston came out as a staunch Unionist. He supported the Compromise of 1850, permanently alienating supporters of slavery. Although his position on the slavery issue crippled his career, Sam Houston did manage to win election as Governor of Texas in 1859. He urged Texas not to seceed after the election of Abraham Lincoln; they did, and after he refused to take the oath of allegience to the Confederacy, he was removed from office. Houston and his family (he had remarried again to Margaret Moffette Lea in 1840, and they had eight children) moved to Huntsville, Alabama. Sam Houston died there on 26 July 1863, at age 70.