Congressman Ted Poe (TX-02)
As a father of three girls, I have had a talk or two with potential suitors. Many of these conversations resulted in the complete embarrassment of my girls (so they claim), and a somewhat agonizing experience for the young men before my court…uh, I mean before me, “dad.” When the right one came along and our talks turned to marriage, I naturally had a list of “creative” conditions. Aside from the obvious, I had two conditions: One was that they could live anywhere they wanted, but when it came time for grandkids, they would be born in Texas – no exceptions. (This also applied to my son, Kurt, as well.)
My kids are 7th generation Texans, so I would stand for nothing less for the next generation. You have to be born in Texas to be a real Texan, you know – with a few exceptions. We occasionally adopt a few here and there, and we “grandfather” those that have been around before we were Texas. And the grandfather of them all would have to be Sam Houston.
But before General Sam and the boys routed the Mexican army at San Jacinto, he had made a name for himself in Tennessee.
Born in Lexington, Virginia on March 2, 1793, Samuel was the fifth of eight children. (I think he was destined to be a Texan simply by his birth date.) At a young age, he left home and lived with the Cherokee Indians developing life-long ties with them that would eventually bring him “home” to Texas.
After serving in the army under Andrew Jackson, Houston studied law and his political career was on the fast track. He was elected Attorney General for Nashville, went on to serve two terms in the United States Congress and in 1827, and at 34-years-old, was elected governor of Tennessee. All this before he even got to Texas.
After his stint as governor, he rejoined his Cherokee family as a representative for the tribe. It was under this position that he first came to Texas. In 1835, after a futile attempt to secure a Mexican land grant for the Cherokee Indians a few years prior, he returned to Texas and took his place among the greats of our storied history.
With revolution brewing, Houston was a delegate at Washington on the Brazos and signed his name to the Texas Declaration of Independence on March 2, 1836 – on his 43rd birthday. (I told you he was destined by birth to be a Texan.) Just one month later, as General of the Texas Army, Houston was victorious at the Battle of San Jacinto, earning the rank of a true Texas hero.
Now the rest is as they say – Texas history. Houston went on to become President of the Republic of Texas, Senator from Texas after annexation, and then two terms as Texas Governor. Sam Houston holds the distinction of being the only person to serve as governor of two states.
Despite being removed by the Texas Legislature as President of the Republic for his opposition to secede at the outbreak of the War Between the States, Houston remained one of Texas’ most revered figures. The city of Houston was named in his honor. Sam Houston State University bears his name in Huntsville, where he lived out the remainder of his life in his famed Steamboat house. The golf course at Sam is named “The Raven’s Nest,” a tribute to Houston’s Indian name. And it is said, that he was barred from being buried in the state cemetery for his resistance to succession, so he was buried near his homestead in Huntsville.
And of course you can’t miss the statue. The first time I saw it was at night. I was driving down I-45 and miles away I could see this glowing beacon. As I approached, I was wondering what it was and of course it was General Sam, bigger than life. It is only second to Lady Liberty herself. Just like a true Texas gentleman, he didn’t want to show any disrespect to a lady. Nonetheless, it is impressive.
It’s no coincidence that the statue is a towering rendition of this Texas hero; legend has it he was a stately, six foot, six inches tall. Now, other records dispute that putting him closer to six foot, but I am sure legend has it right. You know, everything in Texas is bigger so naturally when he crossed the border he got bigger too. Just call it a decoration of the truth, if you will.
Sam Houston remains one of the most noted and illustrious figures in Texas history. Even though he wasn’t born here, he got here as fast as he could and we are forever grateful that he did.
Now, to that second condition of marrying one of my daughters – the naming of my first grandson. Barrett Houston – no exceptions. (Three of my favorite people: William Barrett Travis, Sam Houston and my grandson.)
And that’s just the way it is.