PEOPLE THAT BUILT AMERICA – SAM HOUSTON

Posted: May 30, 2015 in Uncategorized
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THIS WILL APPEAR IN THE FARMERVILLE GAZETTE, FARMERVILLE, LOUISIANA, USA THE WEEK OF 6/1/2015.

America has many heroes and these heroes all had a strong leadership personality. While we generally view a hero’s life as one major incident, the individual usually had a string of accomplishments that defined the person. Davey Crocket is remembered for his valiant stand at the Alamo but he was also a success in a previous life to include being a United States Congressman. Merriweather Lewis was known for being a co-leader of the Age of Discovery Expedition with his friend William Clarke but what is not fully known was that he was an Army officer and governor of the Louisiana Territory. The thing that most of America’s heroes have in common is a life-long zest, a sense of adventure and an uncompromising will to succeed without letting failure deter them. One such man is Sam Houston.
Sam Houston has been diminished in his position in history due to the towering figures that died at the Alamo. Crocket, Bowie, Travis and numerous others paint a large picture of household names when it comes to the republic of Texas; however, an even more majestic person was Houston.
Houston was born in Virginia in 1793 to a family of nine children. His father moved his family to Tennessee but tragically died en-route. The family arrived in Tennessee when Houston was fourteen and at sixteen Sam Houston ran away from home. Most people would have run away to either a fort or town or to some relatives home. Houston was different. He went southwest and lived with the Cherokee Indians. The chief became his adoptive father and young Sam learned fluent Cherokee. Later at the age of 19, Sam Houston founded the first school house in the new state of Tennessee. Quit and accomplishment for a man that only received a rudimentary frontier education. It is this type of foresight and leadership that was shaping a new country.
When the War of 1812 broke out Houston enlisted. In a few months he rose from private to lieutenant. Sam was wounded by an arrow to the groin, bandaged and returned to the battle where he was shot in the shoulder. He ended up in New Orleans where he was operated on. Houston became a close friend of his mentor, Andrew Jackson. Jackson made him a sub-agent responsible to relocate the Cherokee from Tennessee to Arkansas. Houston being his own man showed up to a meeting in Washington wearing Indian clothing, was humiliated by the Secretary of War and resigned his position.
Houston had a desire to accomplish great things in life. He returned to Tennessee, studied law for six months, passed the bar and became a prosecutor before being elected to the United States Congress. He was re-elected and following a second term in congress he ran for and won the governorship of Tennessee. Houston was going to run for re-election but amid rumors of alcoholism and infidelity followed by his new wife leaving him with publicly humility, he resigned from office. This is when the wheels appeared to come off the tracks for Sam Houston.
Houston felt that the treatment of the Cherokee and their relocation to Arkansas was not what was expected. He went to Washington to protest the Indian treatment and was called out on the floor of Congress and humiliated. Houston confronted the Congressman on a Washington street and beat him with a hickory cane. Houston missed being shot when the Congressman’s pistol misfired. Sam was later arrested and found guilty even after Houston had hired Francis Scott Key, author of the words to the Star Spangled Banner, to defend him. The Congressman also filed civil charges and Houston was told to pay $500. Houston’s fierce independence was stronger than the court. He returned to his trading post and wife in Kansas and asked her to leave. She refused and Sam Houston left for Mexico.
He was swept up with the politics of Tejas, represented Nacogdoches at the Convention of 1833 where he supported Independence. Three years later he was named Major General of the Army of Texas. On 1836 he signed the Texas Declaration of Independence. He retreated in front of the massive Mexican Army as he trained a rag tag force of volunteers. He was ridiculed for not fighting as the Alamo fell and Fannin’s troops at Goliad were slaughtered. Finally he did find the opportunity to attack, and much like Washington crossing the Potomac, Houston caught the Mexican army by surprise and the battle was over in eighteen minutes.
Sam Houston became President of the Republic of Texas and convinced the United States to annex it. He then became the first United States Senator from Texas. Houston was later elected Governor becoming the only person elected as governor of two states by the voters of the state. His forward vision proved correct as he correctly predicted that future legislation would lead to a war between the states.
It is amazing how a single individual could do so much to shape the direction of a nation but it is this passion from many citizens across our country that led to the building of our great nation.

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