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Samuel "Sam" Houston Passes Away

Today in Masonic History Samuel "Sam" Houston passes away in 1863.

Samuel "Sam" Houston is an American politician and soldier.

Houston was born on March 2nd, 1793 around Lexington, Virginia. Houston moved with his family to Tennessee at the age of 14 shortly after the passing of his father. At the age of 16, he ran away from home and lived with a Cherokee tribe. The chief of the tribe took him in and treated him as a son. Houston periodically traveled home to visit family, although most of his time was spent with the tribe.

In 1813, Houston became part of the Tennessee militia and begin training at Fort Blount. He served with the 39th Infantry Regiment going from a private to third lieutenant. At the Battle of Horseshoe Bend he was wounded by a Creek arrow to the groin. He was bandaged up and returned to the battle. Andrew Jackson called for volunteers to dislodge a group of Red Sticks from their fortification, Houston volunteered. He was shot twice in the attack and eventually sought treatment at an Army hospital.

During Houston's time with Jackson, the two became close and Jackson considered Houston to be his protégé as did many others. Although the two men strongly disagreed about the treatment of Native Americans.

After the war, Houston studied law for 6 months with a local judge in Tennessee. He passed the bar and began practicing law. In 1818 he was named the local prosecutor in Nashville and was given command of the militia.

In 1822, Houston won the United States House of Representatives seat for Tennessee. He served until 1827 when he decided not to run for re-election.

In 1827, Houston was elected as Governor of Tennessee. He planned to run again in 1829 until rumors of alcoholism and infidelity began to circulate. This was mostly caused by Houston's first wife, Eliza, leaving him shortly after being married. Eliza publically made the claim his injury from the Creek arrow left him impotent. Other claims were Eliza was actually in love with another man. Regardless of the reason the public scandal caused Houston to resign his position as Governor.

In 1830 and 1833, Houston visited Washington D.C. There an anti-Jackson congressman made harsh claims about Houston. It was believed the congressman made the claims because Jackson himself was unreachable and going after his protégé was the better approach. This led to a confrontation between Houston and the congressman. When the congressman refused to retract his statements, Houston beat him with a hickory cane. Houston was put on trial and it was decided a physical attack could not be tolerated since similar attacks to get a congressman to change their stance circumvented the democratic system. Houston was also sued by the Congressman. Houston left town though before the judgment of $500 could be extracted from him.

Houston headed for Texas and immediately got involved in the politics of Texas independence. On his 43rd birthday, Houston signed the Texas Declaration of Independence. He was then made the commander-in-chief of the Texas forces, limited as they were. Shortly after taking command news came Santa Anna had attacked the Alamo and the Texans inside had been defeated. This was followed by about 400 men under the command of James Fanin being captured and killed by Santa Anna. The few men Houston had left retreated across Texas heading for the Gulf of Mexico. Houston was criticized for not attacking Santa Anna. His concern for his under equipped and under trained men were a great concern for him. Eventually he turned and fought, by then Santa Anna had split his army into three units hoping to crush the Texas Army by trapping them. Santa Anna did not expect Houston's attack and Santa Anna's army fell. This led to the Treaty of Velasco which granted Texas their independence.

Texas initially formed a republic, the second future State to do so. In the 1836 election, Houston was elected as President of the Republic. He was elected again in 1841. Houston was in favor of annexation by the United States. Annexation had little political backing, so he waited until his second term to try to push for it. Texas was annexed in 1845.

Also in 1845, Houston was elected to United States Senate from Texas. He served until 1859. He was also be the last foreign head of state to serve in the United States Congress. While in Congress, Houston opposed secession. He also expressed great concern about any possible split between the North and the South, almost prophetically he stated " ... what fields of blood, what scenes of horror, what mighty cities in smoke and ruins—it is brother murdering brother ... I see my beloved South go down in the unequal contest, in a sea of blood and smoking ruin."

Houston was elected Governor of Texas in 1859. He was the only person elected Governor in two states by popular vote. In 1861, Texas was asked to join the confederate states, Houston refused and was overridden by the Texas Legislature. He was later removed from office for refusing to take the oath to the confederacy. On his return home he was asked why he refused to take the oath. He eventually respond:

Fellow-Citizens, in the name of your rights and liberties, which I believe have been trampled upon, I refuse to take this oath. In the name of the nationality of Texas, which has been betrayed by the Convention, I refuse to take this oath. In the name of the Constitution of Texas, I refuse to take this oath. In the name of my own conscience and manhood, which this Convention would degrade by dragging me before it, to pander to the malice of my enemies, I refuse to take this oath. I deny the power of this Convention to speak for Texas....I protest....against all the acts and doings of this convention and I declare them null and void.

Houston later stated in regard to his refusal to support the confederacy as a whole:

Let me tell you what is coming. After the sacrifice of countless millions of treasure and hundreds of thousands of lives, you may win Southern independence if God be not against you, but I doubt it. I tell you that, while I believe with you in the doctrine of states rights, the North is determined to preserve this Union. They are not a fiery, impulsive people as you are, for they live in colder climates. But when they begin to move in a given direction, they move with the steady momentum and perseverance of a mighty avalanche; and what I fear is, they will overwhelm the South.

Houston passed away in Huntsville, Texas from Pneumonia.

Houston was a member of two lodges in Texas. First he was a member of Holland Lodge No. 36 in Brazoria, Texas. Later in life he transferred his membership and affiliated with Forrest Lodge No. 19 in Huntsville, Texas.

This article provided by Brother Eric C. Steele.