Signer of the Declaration of Independence – Commander-in-Chief of the Texas Army – President of the Republic – Member of Congress of the Republic – Senator in the United States Congress – Governor of Texas
His early life–Joins the United States Army–Wounded in the Battle of Horseshoe–Studies Law–Elected Member of Congress and Governor of Tennessee–Came to Texas in 1833–Delegate to Old Washington Convention–Appointed Commander-in-Chief of the Texas Army–Defeats Santa Anna at San Jacinto–Elected President of the Republic–Senator in the United Sates Congress–Governor of Texas–Death in 1863.
Sam Houston was born near Lexington, Rockbridge County, Virginia, March 2, 1793. His ancestors were of Scotch origin. They came to America about 1689 and settled in Pennsylvania. Robert Houston, Sam Houston’s grandfather, moved to Virginia and settled Rockbridge County. Here he reared a family and here Sam Houston was born. After the death of his father, his mother moved to Blount County, Tennessee. He was but a lad of thirteen summers when his mother changed her residence from Virginia to the rugged State of Tennessee. Here he came in contact with the Cherokee Indians, who lived near where his mother settled. He spent many leisure hours with them, joining them in their chase for game, which was in abundance at the time.
In 1813, Mr. Houston enlisted in the United Sates army. The country was then at war with Great Britain. He was not in the army long before his peculiar talents for military life were recognized. He was soon promoted for gallantry in the battle with the Creek Indians. In a fierce conflict at To-ho-ne-ka, (Horseshoe Bend of the Tallapoosa River), Alabama, he received a painful wound from an arrow from an Indian bow. General Jackson ordered him to the rear, but he disregarded the order and joined his regiment in the thickest of the battle. As the battle raged he received another wound that disabled him and from this he did not recover for many months, and did not rejoin his regiment until a short time before peace was declared. He then served for a short time in the Adjutant General’s office at Nashville. In November 1819, he was assigned to extra duty as sub-agent among the Cherokee Indians, to carry out a treaty just ratified with the nation. During the winter of 1819-1820 he conducted a delegation of Cherokee Indians to Washington to present their claims to the Federal Government.
Regarding Houston’s military career in the United States army, a memorandum from the war department shows that “Sam Houston entered the Seventh Infantry as a Sergeant; became ensign in the Thirty-ninth Infantry, July 29, 1813; was severely wounded in the battle of Horse-shoe Bend under Major-General Jackson, March 27th; made Third Lieutenant December1813; promoted to Second Lieutenant May, 1814; retained May 15th in First Infantry; became First Lieutenant March 1, 1818; resigned May 17, 1818.”
Soon after resigning from the army Mr. Houston entered the law office of Mr. James Trimble, an eminent lawyer at Nashville, for the purpose of studying law. He was soon admitted to the bar and at once became a successful advocate, locating in Lebanon. He was soon elected District Attorney. This made it necessary for him to reside in Nashville. His resident in Lebanon was so pleasant that he left it with regrets. When about to move to Nashville he delivered a public address to the citizens of Lebanon in which he expressed regrets that it became necessary for him to leave them. In his address he said: “The time has come when I must bid you farewell. Although duty calls me away, yet I must confess it is with feelings of sincere regret that I leave you. I shall ever remember with emotions of gratitude the kindness which I have received at your hands. I came among you poor and a stranger and you extended the hand of welcome, and received me kindly. I was naked and ye clothed me–I was hungry and you fed me–I was athirst and ye gave me drink.”
“Mr. Houston’s address” said I. V. Drake, in a letter to his biographer, Dr. William Carey Crane, “was delivered in so pathetic a style that its effect was to cause many to shed tears.”
In 1820 Mr. Houston was appointed Adjutant-General of the State, with the rank of Colonel. In 1821 he was elected Major-General by the field officers of the division that composed two-thirds of the State.