Sam Houston 17931863

James McClees (18211887) and Julian Vannerson (c. 18271875)
Salted-paper print, c. 1859

National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.; gift of Roger F. Shultis, 1986

As commander in chief of the Texas army during the Texas Revolution in 1835–36, Sam Houston led the forces that secured Texas’s independence from Mexico. Wounded at the climactic Battle of San Jacinto, he was elected shortly thereafter as the first president of the new Republic of Texas.

In this position Houston encouraged the annexation of Texas to the United States, a decision that legislators ultimately agreed upon in 1845. The following year he was elected to the first of three terms in the U.S. Senate.

This autographed photograph shows Houston at the end of his Senate career, a period when he worked hard to preserve the Union during the fractious years before the Civil War. Elected governor of Texas in 1859, he was removed from office two years later when—Texas authorities having voted to secede—he refused to take an oath of allegiance to the Confederacy.