Triumph and Tragedy: Presidents of the Republic of Texas

Introduction Growing Up Gone to Texas Path to Power Mister President Second Term

Houston Timeline

1833 - Santa Anna becomes president of Mexico

1833 - Represents Nacogdoches at the convention at San Felipe, sides with the radical independence movement

1833 - Nullification Crisis, South Carolina threatens to secede from U.S.

1834 - Indian Territory founded (later Oklahoma)

September 1835 - Chairs a mass meeting in Nacogdoches calling for a "consultation" to investigate issues with Mexico

October 2, 1835 - Battle of Gonzales, first battle of the Texas Revolution

October 6, 1835 - Named commander-in-chief by Nacogdoches "Committee of Vigilance"

November 12, 1835 - Consultation names Houston major general of the Texas army

February 1836 - Negotiates peace treaty with the Cherokee Indians

March 2, 1836 - Signs Texas Declaration of Independence as delegate from Refugio

March 4, 1836 - Convention appoints Houston commander-in-chief, authorizes him to organize Texas military forces

March 6, 1836- Fall of the Alamo

March 11, 1836 - Arrives in Gonzales to take command of army, learns of the fall of the Alamo

March 13-April 20, 1836 - Retreat eastward, Runaway Scrape

April 21, 1836 - Battle of San Jacinto

September 5, 1836 - Elected president of Texas

October 22, 1836 - Sworn in as president

Sam Houston

Sam Jacinto

In November 1835, as war with Mexico appeared inevitable, the Texas Consultation appointed Houston major general of the Texas army. One of Houston's first acts was to visit the Cherokees in East Texas and negotiate a peace treaty, thus ensuring that the Texans would not be subject to attack from the Cherokees while fighting the Mexicans. Back at Washington-on-the-Brazos, Houston was present for the signing of the Texas Declaration of Independence on March 2, 1836. It was his 43rd birthday.

Houston took over a fighting force that was an army in name only. Historians still debate Houston's strategy in taking the army on a retreat eastward towards Louisiana rather than engaging immediately with Santa Anna's troops after the Battle of the Alamo. Some observers would never forgive what they considered cowardice, but Houston was determined not to fight the enemy unless he thought he could win.

On April 21, 1836, Houston turned his army south and took on the hated forces of General Santa Anna. The result was a total rout of the Mexican army. (See Texas Treasures for more about the battle and the capture of Santa Anna, including Houston's first-hand account.)

Five months later, the hero of San Jacinto won election to the presidency by a huge margin over Stephen F. Austin and Henry Smith. Bankrupt and lawless, Texas was teetering on the edge of disintegration. President Burnet resigned so that Houston could take office early on October 22.

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James W. Robinson to Sam Houston, February 1836

Infighting and jealousies left the Texan army weak and divided. The Alamo was a week from falling when acting governor James W. Robinson sent this desperate note to Houston begging him to take control over the growing chaos.

Washington Daniel Miller's notes on Houston speech , April 1833

Notes from a speech given by Houston as a delegate to the 1833 convention in San Felipe.

Sam Houston to James Collinsworth, March 1836

In this report to James Collinsworth, chairman of the government's military affairs committee, Houston details the moves of the enemy and sounds a defiant note. By this time, the Alamo had fallen, Fannin and his men were about to meet with disaster at Goliad, and the Runaway Scrape was in full swing.

Page last modified: March 13, 2015