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American History
4.3 General Sam Houston

When General Jackson whipped the Indians in Alabama, a young man named Sam Houston[he always wrote his name Sam Houston; he was born near Lexington in Rockbridge County, Virginia.] fought under Jackson and was terribly wounded. It was thought that the brave fellow would certainly die, but his strong will carried him through, and he lived to make himself a great name in the southwest. Although Houston fought the Indians, yet, when a boy, he was very fond of them, and spent much of his time with them in the woods of Tennessee. Long after he became a man, this love of the wild life led by the red men in the forest came back to him. While Houston was governor of Tennessee (1829) he suddenly made up his mind to leave his home and his friends, go across the Mississippi River, and take up his abode with an Indian tribe in that part of the country. The chief, who had known him as a boy, gave him a hearty welcome. "Rest with us," he said; "my wigwam is yours." Houston stayed with the tribe three years.

At the end of that time he said to a friend, "I am going to Texas, and in that new country I will make a man of myself." Texas then belonged to Mexico; and President Andrew Jackson had tried in vain to buy it as Jefferson bought Louisiana. Houston said, "I will make it part of the United States." About twenty thousand Americans had already moved into Texas, and they felt as he did. War broke out between Texas and Mexico, and General Sam Houston led the Texan soldiers in their fight for independence. He had many noted American pioneers and hunters in his little army: one of them was the brave Colonel Travis of Alabama; another was Colonel Bowie of Louisiana, the inventor of the "bowie knife"; still another was Colonel David Crockett of Tennessee, whose motto is a good one for every young American—"Be sure you're right, then—go ahead." These men were all taken prisoners by the Mexicans at Fort Alamo—an old Spanish church in San Antonio—and were cruelly murdered. Not long after that General Houston fought a great battle near the city which is now called by his name. The Mexicans had more than two men to every one of Houston's; but the Americans and Texans went into battle shouting the terrible cry "Remember the Alamo!" and the Mexicans fled before them like frightened sheep. Texas then became an independent state, and elected General Houston its president. The people of Texas raised a flag having on it a single star. For this reason it was sometimes called, as it still is, the "Lone Star State." Texas was not contented to stand alone; she begged the United States to add her to its great and growing family of states. This was done in 1845. But, as we shall presently see, a war soon broke out (1846) between the United States and Mexico, and when that war was ended we obtained a great deal more land at the west.

We have seen the part which General Sam Houston took in getting new country to add to the United States. He lived in Texas for many years after that. When, in 1861, the great war broke out between the North and the South, General Houston was governor of the state. He withdrew from office and went home to his log cabin in Huntsville. He refused to take any part in the war, for he loved the Union,—that is, the whole country, North and South together,—and he said to his wife, "My heart is broken." Before the war ended he was laid in his grave.

Directions: Answer the following multiple choice questions. Also, answer the following questions on a sheet of paper:
  • Write on the relationship between the Indians and Sam Houston.
  • Write briefly on the war between Texas and Mexico.

Q 1: Who invented "Bowie knife"?
Andrew Jackson
Sam Houston
Colonel Bowie

Q 2: "Be sure you're right then - Go ahead" - Who said this?
Colonel Bowie of Louisiana
Colonel David Crockett of Tennessee
Colonel Travis of Alabama

Q 3: Which is called Lone star state?

Q 4: Before war Texas belonged to ---------

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Question 6: This question is available to subscribers only!

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