Samuel Houston, generally known as Sam Houston, was born on 2 March 1793 at Timber Ridge Plantation in Rockbridge County, Va. After the death of his father in 1807, Sam's mother took him to eastern Tennessee where he learned the ways of the Cherokee Indians and became deeply committed to furthering Indian rights—a cause he served throughout his life.
Houston enlisted in the 7th Infantry on 24 March 1813 for service in the war with England. He fought under General Andrew Jackson and, although severely wounded during the Battle of Horseshoe Bend, remained in the Army after the end of hostilities. He had attained the rank of First Lieutenant before he resigned on 1 March 1818 to study law.
Soon after being admitted to the Tennessee bar, Houston was appointed prosecuting attorney for the Nashville District. He served in the United States House of Representatives from 1823 to 1827. In the latter year, he was elected state governor and served as head of the Tennessee government until 1829 when he relinquished office and became a trader in Indian Territory (Oklahoma).
Much of his time in the next few years was devoted to securing fair treatment of Indians by the Federal Government and to promoting peace among various Indian tribes. He visited Texas in 1832 to negotiate with the Comanche tribe on behalf of the Cherokees and, thereafter, became increasingly involved in that region.
Soon after the outbreak of the Texas War for Independence, Houston was chosen Commander in Chief of the Texas Army. On 21 April 1836, his badly outnumbered force, which had been retreating before the Mexican Army, turned and decisively defeated their pursuers at San Jacinto. They captured the Mexican commander, Santa Anna, and his entire army, thereby winning independence for Texas.
On 22 October 1836, Houston was inaugurated President of the Republic of Texas and held the office until December 1838. He then stepped down but again headed the new government from 1841 to 1844.
When Texas was annexed to the United States, Houston was elected as one of the state's United States senators, and he served in the Senate until 1859, when displeasure over his loyalty to the Union prompted the Texas Legislature to replace him. However, his enduring popularity among the electorate won him the office of governor which he held until he was deposed on 18 March 1861 for refusing to swear allegiance to the Confederacy. He then retired to his farm where he died on 26 July 1863.
(Sch.: t. 66; cpl. 15; a. 1 heavy 12-pdr. sb.)
The first Sam, Houston, also called Samuel Houston, was a small schooner which, before the Civil War, had operated along the Texas coast. During the first months of the conflict, she served as a pilot boat. On 18 June 1861, Secretary of the Navy Welles was warned that the little schooner was about to sail from Galveston to carry $100,000 in gold to Havana to purchase “arms and munitions of war.”
On 7 July 1861, South Carolina captured Sam Houston off Galveston, and the steamer's commanding officer, Comdr. James Alden, took her into the Federal Navy as a tender. She served the Gulf Blockading Squadron, for the most part as a dispatch vessel, operating between Pensacola Bay and blockading ships stationed along the gulf coast. No records have been found giving details of her commissioning; but, late in October 1862, she was commanded by Acting Master George W. Wood.
On 2 October 1861, she captured 4-ton schooner, Reindeer, off San Luis Pass, Texas. She removed its cargo of salt before sinking the prize.
The Report of the Secretary of the Navy for 1865 states that Sam Houston was entitled to share in the capture of schooner, Solidad Cos, taken by South Carolina on 11 September.
After Federal naval jurisdiction in the gulf was divided early in 1862, Sam Houston operated in the West Gulf Blockading Squadron, performing widely varied duties through the end of the war. For almost a year after peace returned, she served as a pilot boat of the Gulf Squadron. She was sold at New Orleans on 25 April 1866 to J.B. Walton.