Why We Celebrate Sam Houston in Texas
Portrait of Sam Houston
My husband and I currently live in Houston, Texas...the fourth largest city in the United States which just happens to bear the last name of the famous person in history...Sam Houston.
The City of Houston was founded in 1836 and during that same time frame, the President of the Republic of Texas was Sam Houston.
In Texas we have honored Sam Houston by naming many sites and locations after him! Listed below is a small sampling.
Welcome to Fort Sam Houston, Texas ~ Largest healthcare training center in the world!
USS Sam Houston nuclear powered submarine
Sampling of places named after Sam Houston...
My husband attended Sam Houston High School in San Antonio many years ago. There is also a high school in Houston which bears the name Sam Houston Math, Science & Technology Center.
One of the largest Army Bases is located in San Antonio and it is called Fort Sam Houston. My brother Jim spent over 9 months being hospitalized at the Fort Sam Houston hospital after a horrific helicopter crash at Fort Hood. He is now buried in the Fort Sam Houston cemetery per his final wishes. My maternal grandfather did some of his national guard military service at Fort Sam Houston when Pancho Villa was making raids into Texas from Mexico.
The Sam Houston National Forest is one of four national forests in Texas.
Huntsville, Texas is the home of Sam Houston State University. On the south side of Huntsville there is located a gigantic 67 foot (20 m) white statue image of this beloved statesman readily seen from people in their vehicles as they drive along Interstate 45. Huntsville is also where Sam Houston is buried along with a memorial museum in his name.
Sam Houston Park is a grouping of historic homes and a church on 20 rolling acres of ground nestled up against a backdrop of the tall downtown Houston buildings and a busy raised Interstate 45 which whisks people above and past this quiet park setting.
Numerous items and sites outside of Texas are also named after this venerable man and statesman. Two such examples are a ballistic missile submarine named the USS Sam Houston and even a U.S. postage stamp which both honor the legacy of Sam Houston.
Locations of a few of the Texas sites named after Sam Houston.
Sam Houston Daguerreotype
Sam Houston image on U.S. postage stamp
Early years of Sam Houston
Young Sam Houston bore his father's name and was one of nine children in his family and the number five son. The year he was born in Virginia was 1793 and the history of what would become the United States was still being formed. It was frontier days and times were unsettled.
His dad had earned the rank of Major in the American Revolutionary War which was sparked when the American colonists rebelled against Great Britain primarily regarding taxation without representation. It was a war that lasted from 1775 to 1783 and the countries of France, Spain and the Netherlands helped by aiding the colonists with supplies also fighting against Great Britain.
On July 4, 1776 the Continental Congress formed the United States of America declaring total independence from Great Britain. The final outcome was only assured after many more hard battles were fought and the United States had a long way to go before it would resemble what we currently enjoy today.
Sam Houston's father died in 1807 and his mother moved the family to Tennessee from Virginia to be near other family members. Young Sam was 14 years of age at this time and only two years later he would leave home.
He lived with a Cherokee tribe of native Americans and was given the name which translated meant "the Raven." Sam Houston would later be adopted as an official citizen of the Cherokee nation.
Sam Houston statue in Hermann Park, Houston, TexasClick thumbnail to view full-size
At age 19, he followed in his dad's footsteps with regard to joining in a war effort still battling the British in the War of 1812. He was injured and did not rise above the rank of third lieutenant before becoming a disabled veteran.
At the time Houston had been a part of Andrew Jackson's army and the two men got to know each other quite well. Following the war Jackson would appoint Houston to be the Indian agent for the Cherokees.
Houston studied law under Judge James Trimble and passed his bar examination becoming a lawyer. By 1818 Sam Houston became a prosecutor in Nashville, Tennessee and by 1822 was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives for Tennessee. Not bad for a young man who had little in the way of formal education!
All of his experiences with the Cherokee Nation as well as getting to know Andrew Jackson during the war, plus his congressional experience for 4 years led him to becoming Governor of Tennessee in 1927.
He was on a rapid rise to the top politically!
History project about Sam Houston
Sam Houston at the Battle of San Jacinto
First flag of the Republic of Texas
Texas State Flag
Confederate states in red; Union states (blue) and territories in grey.
Sam Houston's personal and political life
His first marriage to young 19 year old Eliza Allen in 1829 ended abruptly after only a short time of eleven weeks and the true reasons were never revealed. It so affected Houston that he resigned as Governor of Tennessee.
Once again, he fled to the comfort of living with the Cherokee Indians for a total of 3 years. During that time Houston married in a Cherokee ceremony Diana (Tiana) Rogers Gentry who was of partial Indian blood.
Gradually becoming more involved with politics again, he was accused of beating a U.S. Congressman with a hickory cane on the streets of Washington because of a verbal disagreement regarding Indian rations. That must have been quite a scene! After a rather famous trial, he was reprimanded and once again shifted focus.
What would ultimately become the sovereign state of Texas was...at the time...a part of Mexico. Mexico had won its independence from Spain in the Mexican War of Independence which ended in 1821. But it was hard for Mexico to control its northern territories and with expansion of settlers from the United States, these lands were becoming more contested ultimately resulting in the Texas Revolution.
Sam Houston had left his Cherokee wife Tiana behind and became involved in the struggle with Mexico for Texas independence becoming a major general in the Texas Army.
After many evasive actions and defeats at the hands of Santa Anna, the most famous being the crushing defeat at the Battle of the Alamo in San Antonio, the final victory was won at the Battle of San Jacinto on April 21, 1836.
Sam Houston became the first and third President of the Republic of Texas and later after Texas joined the Union, he became a U.S. Senator and also the 7th governor of the state of Texas.
In 1840, having officially divorcing his first wife some years prior, Houston married his 3rd wife Margaret Moffette Lea who was 21 years of age. Apparently the second marriage did not matter in the civil courts at the time since it was executed under Cherokee laws?
They had a total of 8 children and one was named Sam Houston, Jr. and another boy was named Andrew Jackson Houston. Sam Houston obviously thought a lot of Andrew Jackson despite not always being in agreement on all subjects such as treatment of the Native Americans like his "adopted" family...the Cherokees.
Sam Houston resigned being the Governor of Texas when secession from the Union was being considered in what would become the U.S. war between the states.
He sided with Abraham Lincoln and others in not wanting to break the Union apart and retired with his family to Huntsville, Texas where he would die at age 70 from a bout with pneumonia prior to the end of the Civil War.
Sam Houston had been a Mason for much of his life and was honorably buried with Masonic emblems in his final resting place, the Oakwood Cemetery located in Huntsville. He was the first presiding officer of the Grand Lodge of Texas and was a Master Mason who belonged to lodges in Nashville, Tennessee; Houston and Huntsville at various times in his life.
This merely highlights some of the interesting activities in the life of Sam Houston. Obviously for history buffs there is much more that can be studied and learned about this fascinating man.
Towering Sam Houston statue near Huntsville, TexasClick thumbnail to view full-size
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Sam Houston Statue in Huntsville
Artist David Adickes was born and educated in Huntsville and gravitated towards creating all kinds of art. Public art has become a love of his in his later years.
Adickes has created other larger than life sculptures such as gigantic heads of U.S. Presidents which can be found near Mount Rushmore in South Dakota and he has plans to do more such park like settings in other states.
The cities of Houston and Galveston sport other large art creations of his.
A plaque on the base of the Sam Houston statue created by David Adickes which is titled "Tribute to Courage" was dedicated by the Grand (Masonic) Lodge of Texas in 1997 and has two quotes which are obviously attributed to Sam Houston. They are the following:
"The great misfortune is that a nation obtains with those in power that the world, or the people, require more governing than is necessary. To govern well is a great science, but no country is ever improved by too much governing...most men think when they are elevated to position, that it requires an effort to discharge their duties, and they leave common sense out of the question."
"Govern wisely, and as little as possible."
Our current politicians could learn much from reading and abiding by these wisely recorded words of the venerable patriot, soldier, politician and statesman...our much honored Sam Houston.
As we and countless other people living or traveling through Houston commute on the Sam Houston Tollway...it is obvious that Texas history and Sam Houston will be forever inextricably linked.
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Sam Houston grave monument in Huntsville, Texas
© 2012 Peggy Woods
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