Sam Houston played a vital role in the founding of Texas, even though he was sometimes a difficult man.
Houston was born into a military family in Virginia in 1793. He spent much of his childhood in the company of Cherokee Indians, coming to know their language and customs well.
Houston studied law and was elected district attorney in Nashville, Tennessee. He was twice elected to Congress, and in 1827 became governor. Two years later, he and his wife separated, and he moved to Indian lands in Arkansas where he had a Cherokee wife and drank heavily.
By 1833 Houston was living in Texas. With the start of the Texas Revolution, Houston became commander of the Texas Army. Being heavily outnumbered, he kept retreating from the Mexican army. When the Mexican general Santa Anna split his forces, Houston saw his chance. He ordered the attack at San Jacinto that won Texas its independence.
Houston served as the first President of the Republic of Texas. He gained U.S. recognition for the new republic and stabilized its economy.
When Texas gained statehood in 1846, Houston served as a United States Senator until 1860.
Houston was a slaveholder himself and he was against ending slavery, yet as senator he voted against expanding slavery into new territories. These views made Houston unpopular with the Texas legislature, but in 1859 he was again elected governor. In 1861, when Texas voted to separate from the Union and join the Confederacy, Houston argued that Texas was an independent republic. He refused to swear allegiance to the Confederacy, and as a result he was removed from office.
Source: Sam Houston
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