News / USA

Sam Houston Lives On - In Texas Museum

A concrete and fiberglass depiction of 'Big Sam' Sam Houston stands more than 20 meters tall on display in Huntsville, Texas. The statue is considered the largest statue of any American hero.
A concrete and fiberglass depiction of 'Big Sam' Sam Houston stands more than 20 meters tall on display in Huntsville, Texas. The statue is considered the largest statue of any American hero.

Multimedia

Sam Houston stands among the towering figures of American history. He governed two states, made his mark on the national stage and yet his name is forever tied to Texas, the state he helped to create. This year, historians are recalling his connection to two anniversaries: Texas's independence, 175 years ago, and the U.S. Civil War, which began in 186.

Big Sam still towers over the land he loved; more than 20 meters tall, a concrete and fiberglass depiction of Houston in Huntsville is considered the largest statue of any American hero.

'Big Sam'

A few kilometers away, the Sam Houston Memorial Museum holds many of his belongings and promotes his legacy.

Director Patrick Nolan says Houston's accomplishments were impressive.

“He is really the only man in our history who was president of an independent country, also governor of two states, the only man to have that distinction, Tennessee and Texas, United States senator from Texas, commanding general in a very successful war,” explains Nolan.

Houston had suffered personal and political setbacks by 1832 when he joined American settlers in what was then the northeast Mexican territory of Texas.

Nolan says this gave him a new start. 

“The idea of re-making yourself, of re-constituting your career if you will, was there and Texas was an opportunity to do that,” he notes.

Houston led Texas rebels to victory over a larger Mexican army at the battle of San Jacinto in April 1836.  

At a recent re-enactment of the battle, just east of the city that bears his name, Houston was again the hero of the day.

Forced to resign

Yet, in 1861, Houston was forced to leave the governor's mansion in Austin and retire to his farm in Huntsville.

The man who fought to bring Texas into the United States refused to sign an oath to the Confederacy of rebellious southern states, says Nolan.

“He would not take that oath to support the Confederacy. He would resign -- no he did not resign, he would be dismissed, he would be fired before he would do it,” states Nolan.

The Civil War was still raging when Houston died at his home in Huntsville in July 1863.

In the city of Conroe, down the road, Houston biographer James Haley visited a new park featuring 13 flags associated with Texas history.

Compassionate slave owner

Haley says Houston annoyed many southerners because, even though he and his wife owned slaves, he paid them for extra work and he opposed the expansion of slavery.

“Every year he had a speaking tour up the Ohio valley, through Pennsylvania, New York and up into New England. That was really the center of his political strength, because he was unpopular in the South because of his stance against slavery," Haley explains.

Houston saw the Civil War coming as early as 1854 and made accurate predictions.

“The South will go down, I think he said, in a sea of smoke and ruin and that will be the end of the South as we know it and then the North will think it has won this big victory, but he said the North will have its own price to pay. They will reap a harvest of assassination,” says Haley.

Source of inspiration

A week after the surrender of the main Confederate army, on April 14, 1865, President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated.

Haley says Houston freed all his slaves before he died and the money he gave them helped some become educated and establish successful businesses.  He also defended the rights of Hispanics and American Indians, with whom he lived for a time.

Sam Houston continues to inspire people and his legacy in Texas remains strong.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs