Antonio López de Santa Anna, Battle of Gonzales, Battle of Horseshoe Bend, Battle of San Jacinto, Lexington, Virginia, San Felipe de Austin

The Birthplace Of Sam Houston – A War of 1812 Veteran Who Was A General In The Texas Revolution, President Of The Republic Of Texas, Member Of Congress, and Former Governor of Tennessee and Texas

Texas Governor Sam Houston in 1861.

On March 3rd, 1793, on a hilltop next to the present day Timber Ridge Presbyterian Church, American Pioneer Sam Houston was born to Elizabeth and Samuel Houston in Lexington, Virginia. When Sam Houston reached the age of fourteen, Elizabeth and Samuel Houston relocated their family to Maryville, Tennessee. As a teenager Sam Houston regularly left his home to spend time with Cherokee Indians and he learned through language during his companionship. As a teenager, Sam Houston established the first schoolhouse in Tennesse, which is currently known as the Sam Houston Schoolhouse.

Sketch of Sam Houston injured by an Native American arrow during the Battle of Horseshoe Bend.

In 1813, during the War of 1812, Sam Houston enlisted in the United States Army. Andrew Jackson and him bought faught alongside one another in Alabama during the Creek War, which included the Battle of Horseshoe Bend, against Native Americans that were supporting the British empire. In 1818, Sam Houston resigned from the United States Army to study law and to take the bar exam in Lebanon, Tennessee. In 1819, Sam Houston became a district attorney in Tennessee. A year later he became an adjunct general of the state and a year after that a major general. In 1923, Sam Houston continued his government service in the United States House of Representatives. While in Congress, Sam Houston was a consistent supporter of United States President Andrew Jackson’s populist policies.

Sam Houston as Governor of Tennesse.

Tennessee voters, who approved of Andrew Jackson policies, in turn supported Sam Houston’s populist platform, which helped him win his 1827 campaign for governor of Tennessee at the age of 41. While campaigning for a second term as Tennessee Governor, Sam Houston married Eliza Allen after a brief courtship.

Drawling of Eliza Allen in her wedding dress in 1829.

However, Eliza Allen claimed that she only married Governor Houston to satisfy her family. On April 11th, 1829, after only eighty days of marriage, Governor Houston left Eliza Allen estranged. Eliza Allen never attempted to get a divorce, however Sam Houston would later try to get a divorce in the Mexican State of Coahuilla de Zaragoza and in the Republic of Texas. This divorce was finally granted in Texas in April 1837.

Sketch of Sam Houston’s Cherokee wife Tiana Rogers Gentry.

Ashamed of his failed marriage, Sam Houston resigned from office, during his second term as Tennessee Governor, and he left, in disguise, with his Cherokee friends to the Arkansas Territory on April 23, 1829. In 1830, Sam Houston entered into a Cherokee marriage with Tiana Rogers Gentry. While this marriage lasted longer than his first, Sam Houston left Tiana Rogers Gentry in December 1832 so that he could eventually move to Texas.

In 1832, after Sam Houston relocated to Mexican Texas, he continued his involvement in politics by plotting a rebellion against Mexico after joining the convention held that year at San Felipe de Austin, the capital of the Anglo colonies in Mexican Texas. A second convention was held in 1833, at San Felipe de Austin, continuing the discussion of Texan independence due to the inadequate protections of the Mexican military from Native American attacks. On October 2nd, 1835, the Battle of Gonzales, began after Texans refused to give the Mexican military, whom were sent by General Antonio López de Santa Anna to retrieve a cannon loaned to the town of Gonzalez for protection against Native Americans, the cannon that they were supposed to send back to Mexico City. The 100 Mexican soldiers were outnumbered and were unable to retrieve the cannon, in an event known as the start of the Texas Revolution, also known as the Texas War of Independence.

Painting of the Battle of Gonzales.

From February 23rd to March 6th, Texans fought against Mexican military at the Alamo. After Texan losses as the Alamo and Goliad, Sam Houston, along with fellow Virginian Stephen Fuller Austin whom founded the Texas Rangers, joined the fight against Mexico. To prevent another defeat in battle, Sam Houston, as general, sought to recruit enough volunteers to so that they could not be overrun by the Mexican military.

General Sam Houston during the Texas Revolution.

On April 21st, 1836, during the Battle of San Jacinto General Houston’s soldiers shouted, “Remember the Alamo! Remember Goliad!” The battle only lasted 18 minutes, but it became a decisive victory for the Texans, after their two previous loses against the Mexican military, and the last battle of the Texas Revolution.

Painting of the Battle of San Jacinto.

After Texas won it’s independence, Sam Houston became the first and the third President of the Republic of Texas. On May 9th, 1840, a year before Sam Houston’s election as the third President of the Republic of Texas, he married Margaret Lea, whom he had eight children with. After serving as President, Sam Houston served as a U.S. Senator, representing Texas, and as a Governor of Texas from 1860 to 1861.

During the outbreak of the “War Between The States”, Sam Houston was a slave owning Unionist Governor whom called for a special session of the General Assembly, before the convention of secession, to convince delegates to stay in the Union. However, on January 28th, 1861, delegates passed the secession ordinance in a vote of 166 to 8. Governor Houston stated that he would agree to Texas becoming its own independent country, as it had been during his his two terms as President of the Republic of Texas, if the people in the state would ratify secession. However, he would not agree to Texas joining the Confederacy.

On February 23rd, 1861, the people of Texas ratified the ordinance of secession in a vote of 44,317 to 13,020. On March 16th, 1861, Governor Houston stayed, “”Fellow citizens, in the name of your rights and liberties, which I believe have been trampled upon, I refuse to take this oath (to the Confederate Government)”. Governor Houston stepped down from office as Texas became the last state to join the Confederacy before the Battle of Fort Sumter.

On June 11th, 1927, a monument was erected near the site of Sam Houston’s birthplace in an area known as the “Sam Houston Wayside”. In 1929, a Virginia Historical Marker was placed, next to the original memorial, detailing Sam Houston’s life. On September 11th, 1986, the original monument was replaced with a plaque bearing the seal of the Cherokee Nation and the State of Texas.

Author’s Note:

Sam Houston is the only former governor, within the United States of America, to represent two different states in his lifetime.

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