Profiles in Courage: Sam Houston

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Sam Houston was a great man in our history. He stood up for what he believed was good for the Union not the North or the South. When Sam was rebuked for providing the winning margin for his opponents he said "I know neither North nor South; I know only the Union." He also said everyone "…must stand firm to the Union, regardless of all personal consequences." He was fiercely ambitious, yet at the end he sacrificed for principle all he had ever won or wanted. He was a Southerner, and yet he steadfastly maintained his loyalty to the Union. He could be all things to all men—and yet, when faced with his greatest challenge, he was faithful to himself and to Texas. When still a dreamy and unmanageable boy, he had run away from his Tennessee frontier home, and was adopted by the Cherokee Indians, who christened him Co-lon-neh, the Raven. An infantry officer under Andrew Jackson in 1813, his right arm had been shredded by enemy bullets when he alone had dashed into enemy lines at the battle of the Horseshoe, his men cowering in the hills behind him. A brave man he was indeed. Apparently he discovered but a few days after his marriage that his young and beautiful bride had been forced to accept his hand by an ambitious father, when in truth she loved another. Sam struck out with one grand assault on Texas officialdom by announcing himself a candidate for Governor in the 1857 election. But his votes on Kansas and other Southern measures could not be explained away to an angry constituency, and Texas handed Sam Houston the first trouncing of his political career. On November 10, 1857, Sam Houston was unceremoniously dismissed by the Texas Legislature and a more militant spokesman for the South elected as his successor. In the fall of 1859, the aging warrior again ran as an independent candidate for Governor, again with no party, no newspaper and no organization behind him, and making but one campaign speech. Houston delivered his inaugural address directly to the...
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