Houston in Love
In May 1839, Houston visited Mobile, Alabama, to talk to some business associates about a land deal. While there, he stayed with friends and was introduced to a pretty, intelligent 20-year-old named Margaret Moffett Lea. Margaret was shy, romantic, and a devout Christian. After Sam left Mobile to continue his tour, Margaret wrote to him that her heart was "like a caged bird" without him.
Houston returned to Alabama after visiting in the east and asked Margaret to marry him. Margaret accepted, but her mother had serious doubts. Houston was 46 years old, divorced under scandalous circumstances, had lived with an Indian wife, and was a heavy drinker. It was only with caution and reluctance that she gave her permission. Many of Houston's friends also had doubts as to whether Sam could curb his rowdy behavior enough to make Margaret happy. But Margaret was determined. She confided to a friend of Houston's that "Not only had he won her heart, but she had conceived the idea that she could be the means of reforming him, and she meant to devote herself to the work."
Now an engaged man, Houston returned to Texas, where he was elected to represent Nacogdoches in the Texas House of Representatives. He spent most of his time criticizing Mirabeau B. Lamar, whom he despised for his harsh Indian policies and his botched attempts at empire. Houston also hated Austin, the rough new capital city that Lamar was building on the edge of the frontier.
In May 1840, Houston went back to Alabama, where he and Margaret were married. Houston built a small house for them at Cedar Point near present-day Baytown. To almost everyone's surprise, Houston worked hard to mend his ways and curb his excesses. His slip-ups with alcohol became rare events. The soft-spoken and gentle Margaret Houston turned out to have nerves of steel. Houston soon wrote a friend, "You have, I doubt not, heard that my wife controls me and has reformed me."
Later in the year, Houston defeated David G. Burnet to win election to his second term as Texas president.