S is for Sam –Sam was born in 1793, not in the west where he would become famous and rise to be elected President, but in Virginia. Most of his youth was spent in the mountains of Tennessee, where he became an adopted member of the Cherokee Nation. He fought and was gravely wounded in the War of 1812 and rose to appointment as an officer of some renown during his career. He left the army to study law, was admitted to the Bar and practiced in his beloved Tennessee. Friend and ally to Andrew Jackson, Sam became a Congressman and then Governor of Tennessee. While still in office, he married a woman half his age from a wealthy, Tennessee family. Power, wealth, influence — Sam seemed on the fast track to the white house.
But his young wife abandoned him less than four months later and returned to live with her family. No one to this day is sure of the reason for the rift, but speculation runs wild. Some claim she cuckolded Sam, others that he was suffering from venereal disease. Whatever the truth, scandal or loss proved too much for the governor. He resigned and relocated to Oklahoma where he became a hopeless drunk, took a common law wife among his friends the Cherokee and received appointment as Indian Agent for the US government. Sam was a broken man and has-been.
Later in opposition to the cruelties brought on the Cherokee by his old friend Jackson’s policies under the Indian Removal Act, Sam would become a champion of the Indian cause in Washington. While lobbying in on behalf of the tribes in the west, Sam lost his temper at accusations of his corruption from Ohio Congressman, William Stanbery. On Pennsylvania Avenue, Sam confronted and beat the Ohioan severely with a cane. Congress ordered his arrest and convicted him of contempt of congress for the assault. Sam fled the US for Mexico. All would seem lost.
Yet Sam would once again rise to the rank of General and lead an army to victory in one of the most important battles ever fought in North America. He would regain political prominence in another slave state and eventually become governor there. He opposed secession during the sectional crisis that would lead to Civil War, however, and suffered another reversal of political fortunes for that opposition when his state quit the Union.
So how was it that Sam, a man who experienced such highs and lows of personal and political fortunes, could ever have arisen to the office of President? Well, it could only happen in the Lone Star State. You see Sam was the first President of the Republic of Texas and the man for whom Houston, fourth largest city in the United States he so vigorously supported, is named. He died disgraced during the War Between the States. His fellow citizens held the father of Texas in the highest contempt for his defense of the government which annexed her and ended their republic.