Few figures in Texas history are as controversial as Sam Houston. In his own lifetime, he so dominated Texas affairs that the political camps were divided into pro and anti Houston factions. His motives in coming to Texas, his military and political abilities all have been called into question. Notwithstanding, he remains someone who cannot be ignored, who cannot be viewed dispassionately.
Born the same year as Stephen F. Austin, on March 2, 1793, Houston had already served in the United States army, had represented Tennessee in the United States House of Representatives, and had acted as governor of that state as well. The circumstances leading to his resignation continue to fire speculation.
He entered Texas in December 1832 and was immediately swept into the ferment of political activity. He was a delegate to the Convention of 1833, the Consultation, and the Convention of 1836. He was appointed major general in the regular army by the Consultation and was made commander in chief by the Convention of 1836. Also during this period, he negotiated a treaty with the Cherokee on February 3, 1836.
The battle of San Jacinto brought the active war to a close on April 21, 1836. The capture of president/general Santa Anna the next day gave Houston the upper hand in negotiating with the Mexican troops remaining in the country. A few days later, he was taken to the United States for treatment: his ankle had been shattered by a Mexican bullet.
Image: President Houston's Official Residence, 1837. Houston served as president of Texas from October 1836 to December 10, 1838, and from December 13, 1841 to December 9, 1844. Between terms, he was a representative in Congress for San Augustine from 1839 to 1841. After annexation in 1845, he was elected one of the two United States senators by the Texas legislature. He served in there until 1857.
Sam Houston ran twice for Texas governor, first in 1857 and, successfully, in 1859. He thus became the only person so far to serve as governor of two states. Just as in Tennessee, however, he resigned the office. The Texas Secession Convention replaced him with Lt. Governor Edward Clark on March 16, 1861, when Houston refused to take the oath of allegiance to the Confederate States of America. Although he opposed Texas' withdrawal from the Union, Houston also refused to use military force to counter secession.
He retired to Huntsville in 1862 where he died July 26, 1863.
Related topics from Texas Treasures: Sam Houston's account of the Battle of San Jacinto