Samuel Houston was born on March 2, 1793, near Lexington, Virginia. At age 15, after a limited amount of schooling, he left to live among the Cherokee Indians for a period of three years. Serving in the War of 1812 under Andrew Jackson, he took part in the battle of Horseshoe Bend against the Creek.
A few years later, he took up the study of law, and after passing the Tennessee bar exam, began to practice in Lebanon. After serving briefly as district attorney of the Nashville district, he became adjutant general of the state militia (with the rank of colonel), and Democratic congressman from the ninth Tennessee district.
In 1827, he was elected governor. Soon after he won reelection in 1829, however, his wife of three months deserted him. Distressed, he spent the next three years living with the Cherokees near Fort Gibson, operating a trading post in Indian Territory. However, he made several trips to Washington D. C., to plead for equitable treatment of the Indians.
Then, in 1832, he was sent by President Andrew Jackson to negotiate with several tribes in Texas. While in Texas, however, he soon became deeply involved in politics. With the advent of the Texas revolution in 1835, he participated in several temporary governments. And taking immediate command of the Texas army, he defeated the Mexican army under Gen. Santa Anna in April 1836. A few months later, Houston was elected president of the Republic of Texas.
In 1846, he became U. S. senator, serving 13 years. And although defeated for the Senate in 1859, he was again elected governor. He became unpopular, however, when he refused to recognize the secession convention which met in January 1861; and reluctant to swear allegiance to the Confederacy, he was deposed a few months later. He died on July 26, 1863.