Samuel Houston is one of the most outstanding characters in the history of America. Famous for being the only governor of two states in the history of America, Samuel Houston lived between the March of 1793 and July of 1863.1 He was born in Virginia and died in Texas. He served in the army, the House of Representatives and the Senate, became governor of two states and president of the Republic of Texas.
Houston facilitated the creation of the seventh District of Tennessee where he went to the House of Representatives for the people of Tennessee between 1823 and 1827. Afterwards, he clinched the position of the Governor of Tennessee between 1827 and 1829. His political progress then saw him serve in the office of the president, in the Republic of Texas twice; between 1836 and 1838 and later 1841 and 1844. He further continued to serve as a senator for the US from Texas between 1846 and 1859, and concluded his political career in the office the Governor of Texas, serving as the seventh governor from 1859 to 1861. After this position, Houston led a relatively private life in Huntsville until his death in July of 1863.2
At an early age, Houston migrated from Virginia and settled in Tennessee which still belonged to the western frontier at the time. He was named Colonneh, meaning Raven by the Cherokee people among whom he lived and married.3 He became a citizen and was among those enrolled into the army for the war that was fought in 1812.4 He joined the 39th Infantry Regiment and was so smart that he rose from private to lieutenant position three within the same year. After being wounded in the battlefield severally, he had to undergo a surgery and was later appointed as sub-agent in 1817. Facing accusations from opponents about his relations with Native Americans, Houston resigned from the position in 1818.5
Houston then decided to return to Tennessee and embark on studying law in Judge James Trimble’s office as well as joining politics. He successfully completed his studies in law and soon rose to the position of the district attorney in Nashville.6 In 1823, he was elected to the position of congressman for Tennessee District in the House of Representatives. He retained this position in 1824 but did not accept to contest for re-election in 1827 with a focus on greater heights in politics. He successfully contested and won the governor’s seat that year.7 He was a drunkard who was regularly accused of infidelity by his wife Eliza Allen. This ended up into a separation which deprived him of moral grounds for holding public office thereby forcing him into a resignation in 1829. He exiled to Arkansas where he attained citizenship by adoption and got married to Chief John Headman Hellfire Rogers’ daughter Tiana Rogers, he was later officially divorced Eliza in 1837.8 He started Cherokee Nation representation in 1830. Two years later, he developed feuds with William Stanberry who was not in favor of Jackson. He launched a physical attack on Stanberry, an act that led to his being censured by Congress. He then left and moved to Texas leaving behind his wife who refused to go with him in 1832.
At this time, Texas was still under the territory of Mexicans. He attended the Convention of 1933 in the capacity of a Nacogdoches’ representative. He presented himself as a supporter of William Harris Wharton as well as the idea of Texas independence.9 It is probably because of this that he got recruited in the army and made a Major General in the year 1835. The following year, he was part of those who ensured that the East Texas Cherokee Population was settled. He was then selected for the position of Commander-in-Chief after taking part in declaring Texas Independent.10 With a very poorly equipped army, Houston led his military in a series of events that culminated into a surprise attack against Santa Anna in an afternoon siesta, and a quick victory against a rather superior Mexican force in April 21, 1836 at the Battle of San Jacinto.11 Though Houston had a badly injured ankle, this point marked the signing of the Treaty of Velasco and the ultimate Independence of Texas.
Houston’s presidency for the Republic of Texas followed after an election which he won by about eighty percent on September 5, 1836.12 He served for two years and was again re-elected in 1841 to 1844.13 In 1940, he got married one more time to Margaret Moffette who was from Alabama and was 21 years old. In 1945, Texas was annexed by the United States and Houston was elected to the Senate together with Thomas Jefferson. He was in the Senate until 1859. Having failed to clinch the governor’s seat in 1857, Houston ran for it a second time in 1859 and won the seat. In the history of America, he went down the books as the only governor of two states. He was opposed to secessionist ideas of 1861 which saw his removal from office and final retreat to a private life in Huntsville until his death in July of 1863.14
Concisely, though Houston had a morally questionable character, especially due to alcoholism, his determination was great and his achievements outstanding. He served as a military officer for two armies in different capacities, in the House of Representatives, Senate, twice president of the Republic of Texas and the only governor of two states in the History of the United States.
Creel, George. Sam Houston: colossus in buckskin. New York: Cosmopolitan Book Corporation, 1928.
Gregson, Susan R. Sam Houston: Texas hero. Minneapolis, Minn.: Compass Point Books, 2006.
Woodward, Walter M. Sam Houston: for Texas and the Union. New York: PowerPlus Books, 2003.