General Sam Houston: “We view ourselves on the eve of battle. We are nerved for the contest, and must conquer or perish. It is vain to look for present aid: none is at hand. We must now act or abandon all hope! Rally to the standard, and be no longer the scoff of mercenary tongues! Be men, be free men, that your children may bless their father’s name.”
Sam the Ambitious Politician: “Were I the nation’s ruler, I could rule it well.”
After Sam’s baptism, November 19, 1855: When a friend remarked he guessed Sam had all his sins washed away now, Sam replied that he hoped so. “But if they are all washed away,” he said, “the Lord help those fish down below.”
“The people want excitement, and I had as well give it as anyone.”
Newspaper headline announcing Sam’s arrival in town for a political appearance: “The Hero of San Jacinto is Communing with the People!”
Sam’s advice to his son: “It is a matter of great satisfaction to me to hope that my children will be in circumstances to receive a good education. Mine was defective and I feel the inconvenience, if not the misfortune of not receiving a classical education. Knowledge is the food of genius, and my son, let no opportunity escape you to treasure up knowledge.”
Old Sam the Prophet (as the Civil War began): “Let me tell you what is coming. Your fathers and your husbands, your sons and brothers, will be herded at the end of a bayonet. You may, after the sacrifice of countless millions, win Southern Independence . . . but I doubt it.”
Houston’s last words, July 26, 1863: “Texas . . . Texas. Margaret . . .”
Jean Fritz is a fine biographer, and Sam Houston is a fascinating subject. What more need be said? Still, I’ll add a few details for those of you who need a little more encouragement to pick up this Texas Tuesday pick.
Houston was the George Washington of Texas, but he was a much more flamboyant character than George was. Houston served as governor of two different states (Tennessee and Texas), was a congressman from Tennessee, was elected president of the Texas Republic twice, was a senator from Texas, and was indeed the Heroic General who led the Texians to independence in his victory over the army of Mexican general and dictator Santa Anna.
Houston and his third wife, Margaret, had eight children (just like me and Engineer Husband). Margaret was a good influence on Sam Houston; she got him to give up alcohol which Sam admitted had become an addiction and a hindrance to his ambitions. She also took him to church regularly, and he eventually received salvation and was baptized.
An adult biography I’ve seen recommended is The Raven by Marquis James, but if you just want an introduction to a colorful Texan hero, you can’t go wrong with Jean Fritz’s one hundred page account of the life of Sam Houston.