Thursday, May 23, 2019

Exiled: The Last Days of Sam Houston - Ron Rozelle

Sam Houston led the army that significantly changed the course of American history by defeating Mexico's General Santa Ana in the Battle of San Jacinto on April 25, 1836.  As a result of that  eighteen-minute battle, Mexico was forced to give up the region that would soon become an independent country known as The Republic of Texas until it became part of the United States in December 1845.  Houston was twice president of that republic, twice a U.S. senator after Texas became part of the Union, and at the very end of his political career he served as governor of the state he was so instrumental in creating. Significantly, he is also the only person in United States history to have served as governor of two different states, having first been the governor of Tennessee before coming to Texas under rather cloudy circumstances.

I have been an admirer of Sam Houston since I was a child, but I'm surprised at how much new information I learned about the man and his family from Exiled.  It helps, I suppose, that I live smack in the middle of the General's old stomping grounds (in what is now a north Houston suburb), and that I'm within 50 miles of Huntsville, the town in which Houston's family spent so many years while he was tending to his senatorial duties in Washington. Huntsville is also where Houston died and where he is buried, and it is home to a wonderful little museum that includes both the longtime Houston family home and the separate house in which Houston died in 1863 (he died downstairs and his funeral was held in the room above the bedroom in which he spent his final hours).  I haven't visited that museum in a few years, and this book reminds me of just how badly I need to do that again. 
The San Jacinto Monument is
taller than the Washington Monument.

Sam Houston was an American hero. As Exiled so clearly reminds the reader, he loved the Union more than anything in the world other than his family. But Houston was also a Texas patriot who dearly loved the state that voted to join the Confederacy despite his pleas for it not to do so.  After that fatal vote was taken, Sam Houston decided to resign the Texas governorship rather than swear an oath of allegiance to the Confederacy, preferring to move back to Huntsville where he spent the remaining years of his life (he would be dead long before the end of the Civil War).  

Houston's last words reflect how much he loved his wife and the state whose history he is so much a part of: 

      "Texas...Texas...Margaret."

Sam Houston, forever my hero.

2 comments:

  1. This sounds like a biography I would enjoy. Thanks for the review, Sam.

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    1. It's kind of a "best of both worlds" biography in that it's short but packed with interesting facts and details that you don't always get in even a longer biography like things about his marriage and how he got along with his children, etc. And being so close to Huntsville, I was intrigued by the trivia of their daily life there and what was going on in that little town - which is now home to Sam Houston University.

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