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Sam HoustonThe Texas national hero and the namesake of the Allen's new town, was born on March 2, 1793, in Rockbridge County, Virginia, to an officer of the Revolutionary War and his wife. After the death of her planter husband, Houston's mother moved with her nine children to Maryville, Tennessee in Blount County. There young Sam met and developed a strong friendship with the neighboring Indian tribe, the Cherokees, a relationship he maintained and nurtured for the rest of his life.

In the War of 1812, Houston served under General Andrew Jackson, and earned his lifelong friendship. In Alabama, at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend against the Creek Indians, Houston displayed the courage that became his hallmark. There he received wounds in his right shoulder which never entirely healed.

Tall, handsome and ambitious, Houston returned after the war and settled in Lebanon, Tennessee, just outside of Nashville, where he studied law and established a practice. At the age of thirty, in 1823, he was elected to serve as a United States congressman. Four years later, he was elected governor of Tennessee. Shortly thereafter, Houston married a seventeen-year-old beauty, Eliza Allen, a Tennessee heiress.

After three months, however, Eliza left him and Houston, disillusioned, resigned as governor. For a period of time he returned to Arkansas to live among his friends, the Cherokees. Later they conferred upon the "Raven." as they called Houston, the title of honorary chief.

Houston arrived in Texas on December 2, 1832, determined--and destined, some say--for greatness. On March 2, 1836, the Texas Convention, of which Houston was a member, adopted a Declaration of Independence at Washington-on-the-Brazos. As it happened, Texans celebrate their Independence Day on the anniversary of Sam Houston's birthday.

Serving as commander-an-chief and general of the Texas army, Houston soundly defeated the troops of Mexican president General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna at the famous Battle of San Jacinto on April 21, 1836, gaining independence for the new republic. Wounded in his ankle, Houston, journeyed to New Orleans to recover. There he met Margaret Lee of Alabama, and four years later he married her.

Having returned to Texas, Houston was elected as the president of the newly independent Republic of Texas on September 5, 1836, holding that office until 1838. In May of the following year, with the government settled in the new city of Houston, he made political headway by obtaining recognition of the new republic from the United States.

From 1841 to 1844 he served a second term as president of the republic and pushed to have Texas admitted to Union. When this was accomplished in 1845, and Texas became the twenty-eight state, Houston and Thomas J. Rusk were as the first United States senators from Texas. Houston influenced congress to establish, in 1854, a 1,280-acre reservation for Indians northeast of Houston. The Alabama and Coushatta tribes still live there today.

Houston left the Senate after his election as the seventh governor of Texas in 1859. When Texas voted to secede from the Union, Houston voiced his opposition, refusing to lead the state in such a move. He was consequently removed from the governorship in March, 1861.

Houston retired to his farm near Huntsville and died of pneumonia on July 26, 1863, at the age of seventy, still respected although in disfavor. His last words were "Texas, Texas, Margaret!" A state university in Huntsville, a national forest in southeast Texas, as well as numerous places, roads, buildings and establishments have been named in his honor.

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