History >> Biography
- Occupation: Politician, Governor of Texas
- Born: March 2, 1793 in Rockbridge County, Virginia
- Died: July 26, 1863 in Huntsville, Texas
- Best known for: Leader of the Texas Revolution
Where did Sam Houston grow up?
Sam Houston was born in Virginia where he grew up working on his father's farm with his four older brothers and three younger sisters. His father died when he was thirteen and the family moved to Tennessee.
Sam didn't like working on the farm with his brothers. He ran away and went to live with a local Cherokee tribe where he was given the name "Black Raven." Sam enjoyed hunting and living with the Cherokee. He lived with them for three years learning their language and way of life,
War of 1812
In 1813, Sam joined the U.S. army to fight in the War of 1812. Sam was a natural born leader and quickly became an officer under General Andrew Jackson. He proved his bravery at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend where Sam was one of the first soldiers to jump over a barricade and charge the enemy. During the battle, he was shot several times including an arrow wound that would trouble him for the rest of the life.
After the war, Houston worked for the government as an intermediary with the Cherokee in Tennessee. He also studied to be a lawyer and opened a law practice in Nashville in 1818. Houston next entered politics. He was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1822 and governor of Tennessee in 1827.
Around 1833, Sam Houston moved to Texas. At the time, Texas was a territory of Mexico. Houston and many of the other settlers were not happy with the Mexican leadership. When Santa Anna took control of Mexico, the two sides began to fight. In 1836, Texas declared its independence from Mexico. They named Sam Houston as the commander of their small army.
Battle of San Jacinto
General Santa Anna of Mexico invaded Texas to put down the rebels. One of the first major battles took place at the Alamo. Sam Houston ordered the soldiers at the Alamo to retreat, but they refused and decided to fight. They lost the battle to Santa Anna and all the soldiers that remained at the Alamo were killed.
As Santa Anna advanced, Houston ordered his ragtag army to retreat before the larger Mexican force. After retreating for a over a month, Houston went on the attack. He surprised and defeated Santa Anna at the Battle of San Jacinto on April 21, 1836. This decisive victory led to a treaty that established Texas as an independent country.
Leader of Texas
After the revolution, Houston was elected the first President of Texas in 1836. Later, he helped Texas become part of the United States. He served as a U.S. Senator from Texas and then as Governor of Texas.
Houston was governor of Texas when the Civil War began in 1861. He was strongly against Texas leaving the United States and joining the Confederacy. As a result, he was removed from office.
Death and Legacy
Sam Houston died from pneumonia on July 26, 1863 in Huntsville, Texas. He was married three times. He had eight children with his third wife Margaret. The city of Houston, Texas is named after Sam.
Interesting Facts about Sam Houston
- He is the only person to have been governor of two states (Texas and Tennessee).
- His father, also named Sam Houston, fought in the Revolutionary War.
- He was left for dead on the battlefield at Horseshoe Bend, but managed to survive the night and was eventually found and taken to a doctor.
- Francis Scott Key, who wrote the lyrics to the Star Spangled Banner, once defended Houston in court after he beat up a congressman.
- He sometimes drank a lot of alcohol and earned the nickname "The Big Drunk" from the Cherokee.
- Houston signed the Texas Declaration of Independence on March 2, which was also his birthday.
- Houston was one of the few Texas casualties at the Battle of San Jacinto when he was shot in the ankle.