Today in History, September 5: 1836 – Sam Houston is elected the President of the new Republic of Texas. What a life! Born in Virginia, his family moved to Tennessee. As a boy, Houston ran away and lived for several years with the Cherokee tribe. His involvement with the Cherokees would resurface twice; once when he was placed in charge of their removal to the Arkansas Territory, and again when he would go to Washington to plead their case. Houston would serve in the War of 1812 and later be elected to the House of Representatives from Tennessee and then Governor of the state. Assigned by President Andrew Jackson in 1832 to obtain treaties with native American tribes in the Mexican state of Tejas, in order to secure the safety of American border traders, Houston soon became a leader of Americans living in Tejas that wanted independence from Mexico. He led the Texas army after the defeat at the Alamo and secured independence after taking General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna prisoner. He later acted as part of delegation which resulted in Texas becoming a US state. When the Civil War came, he was Governor of Texas. He argued against secession and lost. In 1861 he refused to swear allegiance to the Confederacy and was deposed as Governor. A true patriot to the end.
Today in History, April 21: 1836 – During the Battle of San Jacinto, Texian militia led by Gen. Sam Houston surprises and routs the army of professional Mexican soldiers led by Gen. Antonio López de Santa Anna. Santa Anna was captured and held as a prisoner of war, soon agreeing to a treaty that ostensibly recognized Texas as an independent nation. Houston was an instant national (Texas and America) hero. Usually history is seen as snapshots in time, but there are so many stories expanding from here. As for Santa Anna, he was like a cat…he seemed to have 9 lives and repeatedly came back from defeat. Fast forward about 25 years and Houston was Governor of the State of Texas…and would resign the post rather than swear allegiance to the Confederacy, perhaps because he had fought so long and hard to make Texas part of the Union. Today, you can visit the battlefield at San Jacinto, and while you’re at it tour the USS Texas, the only remaining battleship to have served in both WWI and WWII.