Sam Houston

Sam Houston

Posted by This content is courtesy of The American Patriot's Almanac © 2008, 2010 by William J. Bennett and John T.E. Cribb on 2nd Mar 2019

Sam Houston lived a life as big as Texas. Born on March 2, 1793, near Lexington, Virginia, he moved to the Tennessee frontier with his family at age thirteen and soon struck out on his own. He lived for a while with the Cherokee . . . taught in a one-room schoolhouse . . . fought the Creek Indians under Andrew Jackson . . . studied law and was elected to Congress . . . became governor of Tennessee . . . organized a Texas army and defeated General Santa Anna at the Battle of San Jacinto . . . became the first president of the Republic of Texas . . . worked to have Texas admitted to the United States . . . represented Texas in the U.S. Senate . . . and served as governor of Texas.

His finest moment came toward the end of his life, as the Civil War approached, and a secession convention voted to take Texas out of the Union. Houston opposed the move with every fiber of his soul. He took to the hustings to warn scornful crowds that secession would bring only disaster. In one town, when an armed man threatened him, the 68-year-old Houston stared him down, declaring, “Ladies and gentlemen, keep your seats. It is nothing but a fice [a small dog] barking at the lion in his den.”

His efforts weren’t enough. Texas legislators demanded that Governor Houston swear loyalty to the Confederacy. “In the name of my own conscience and manhood . . . I refuse to take this oath,” he wrote, knowing it meant the end of his career.

Supporters offered to take up arms to fight for control of the statehouse, but Houston turned them down. He did not want to cling to office by spilling the blood of fellow Texans. Brokenhearted, he retired to private life. It was for this final act of public service that John F. Kennedy would later make Sam Houston a hero in his book Profiles in Courage.