Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Complicated Life of Sam Houston

The Raven by Marquis James (a preview can be seen here on Google books) is a Pulitzer Prize winning biography of Sam Houston. President George W. Bush named "The Raven" as his favorite book.

A short chronological explanation of the life of Sam Houston can be found here. He was born in Rockbridge County, Virginia, on 2 March 1793. Sam Houston's widowed mother, Eliza, and family moved to Blount Co., Tennessee in 1807. In 1809 Houston ran away from home and lived with the family of Chief Oolooteka (AKA John Jolly) who dubbed him "The Raven" or Colonneh in Cherokee. Sam Houston participated in the Battle of Horseshoe Bend on March 27, 1814, where General Andrew Jackson noted his heroics. [Some of the Indians fought on the side of the Americans]

A close relationship and correspondence developed between Houston and Jackson. One example of a letter from Sam Houston to Andrew Jackson was dated 18 December 1817. In the book "Sam Houston" by John Hoyt Williams the author provided additional detail regarding the relationship between Andrew Jackson and Sam Houston and stated that "the parallels in their lives defy probability theory."

Houston was appointed as a sub-agent to the Cherokee nation under Agent Return J. Meigs until Sam crossed the powerful John C. Calhoun. Houston studied law and opened a practice in Lebanon, TN. Houston was then Attorney General (Nashville District) (1819) and also Major General of the Tennessee militia (1821). In 1823 he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives as a "Jackson Democrat" and re-elected in 1825. After fighting a duel in 1826, Sam Houston was elected as the Governor of Tennessee in 1827.

Houston's political career came to a screeching halt in 1829 when he and his bride of three months, Eliza Allen, separated and Governor Houston resigned and moved to Arkansas near his adopted Indian father. Houston later led a delegation of Cherokees (in 1830) to Washington, D.C, as an adopted citizen of the Cherokee nation.

In Washington, D.C., Houston assaulted Representative William Stanbery because of remarks made on the floor of the House of Representatives, was tried by the House and rebuked as related in a letter found here. Sam Houston's attorney was Francis Scott Key. One of Houston's companions the night before his trial was Balie Peyton (also noted here); another was James K. Polk.

In 1832 Sam Houston entered Texas, then part of Mexico. A 13 Feb 1833 letter from Sam Houston to Andrew Jackson.

Sam Houston and Eliza (Allen) Houston never reconciled after their brief three months together in 1829. He married Tiana Rogers in 1830 in a Cherokee ceremony. Sam filed for divorce from Eliza in 1833. Eliza was the daughter of John & Laetitia (Saunders) Allen; her younger brother, B. F. Allen, married a distant relative of mine, Mary Louisa Trousdale, daughter of Tennessee Governor William Trousdale, of Gallatin ( Gov. Trousdale was the first cousin of my 5th great-grandfather, Alexander Trousdale).

Houston, who set up a law office in Texas, was a delegate to a convention calling for the separation of Texas from Mexico. Stephen F. Austin took the request for separation to Mexico City and was imprisoned for his efforts.

Sam Houston's stint as the Major-General the Texas Army culminated in his victory at the Battle of San Jacinto where he defeated the powerful Mexican Army of Santa Anna after the disasters at the Alamo and Goliad.

Houston was elected as President of The Republic of Texas on 5 Sept 1836, defeating Stephen Austin for that office. In December 1838, Vice President Mirabeau Lamar ascends to the office of President. In Mobile, Alabama, Sam Houston meets Margaret Lea whom he married on May 9, 1840 and with whom he had 8 children. In 1841 Houston became President of Texas for a second time and in 1842 Santa Anna and his army made a foray back into Texas.

Sam Houston became a United States Senator in 1846 after Texas was admitted to the United States and after machinations involving the United States, France, Great Britain and Mexico. A letter regarding the Annexation of Texas from Sam Houston to Andrew Jackson Donelson representative of negotiations.

In 1846 the United States plunged into war with Mexico, with the new State of Texas at the forefront. The Treaty of Guadalupe Hildago formalized the end of the Mexican War om 1848.

A third term as U.S. Senator put him on the unpopular side of the Kansas-Nebraska bill.

In 1859 Sam Houston is elected as Governor of Texas again and in 1860 is considered as a possible candidate for President of the United States. His political career was derailed when he refused to take a loyalty oath to the Confederacy after Texas seceded from the United States and he was then deposed as Governor.

More about Sam Houston the and fortunes of Texas can be found here and here regarding the "Archive War."

Sam Houston died July 26, 1863 at Huntsville, Texas; see entry at

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