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229. Sam Houston and the Indians; Houston goes to live with the Indians.—When General Jackson whipped the Indians in Alabama,[1] a young man named Sam Houston[2] fought under Jackson and was terribly wounded. It was thought that the brave fellow would certainly die, but his strong will carried him through, and he lived to make himself a great name in the southwest.

Sam Houston

Although Houston fought the Indians, yet, when a boy, he was very fond of them, and spent much of his time with them in the woods of Tennessee.

Long after he became a man, this love of the wild life led by the red men in the forest came back to him. While Houston was governor of Tennessee (1829) he suddenly made up his mind to leave his home and his friends, go across the Mississippi River, and take up his abode with an Indian tribe in that part of the country. The chief, who had known him as a boy, gave him a hearty welcome. "Rest with us," he said; "my wigwam is yours." Houston stayed with the tribe three years.

1 See paragraph 216.

2 Sam Houston (Hew'ston): he always wrote his name Sam Houston; he was born near Lexington in Rockbridge County, Virginia.

230. Houston goes to Texas; what he said he would do; the murders at Alamo[3]; the flag with one star; what Houston did; Texas added to the United States; our war with Mexico.—At the end of that time he said to a friend, "I am going to Texas, and in that new country I will make a man of myself." Texas then belonged to Mexico; and President Andrew Jackson had tried in vain to buy it as Jefferson bought Louisiana. Houston said, "I will make it part of the United States." About twenty thousand Americans had already moved into Texas, and they felt as he did.

Lone Star Flag

War broke out between Texas and Mexico, and General Sam Houston led the Texan soldiers in their fight for independence. He had many noted American pioneers[4] and hunters in his little army: one of them was the brave Colonel Travis[5] of Alabama; another was Colonel Bowie[6] of Louisiana, the inventor of the "bowie knife"; still another was Colonel David Crockett of Tennessee, whose motto is a good one for every young American—"Be sure you're right, then—go ahead." These men were all taken prisoners by the Mexicans at Fort Alamo—an old Spanish church in San Antonio—and were cruelly murdered.

Not long after that General Houston fought a great battle near the city which is now called by his name.[7] The Mexicans had more than two men to every one of Houston's; but the Americans and Texans went into battle shouting the terrible cry "Remember the Alamo!" and the Mexicans fled before them like frightened sheep. Texas then became an independent state, and elected General Houston its president. The people of Texas raised a flag having on it a single star. For this reason it was sometimes called, as it still is, the "Lone Star State."

Texas was not contented to stand alone; she begged the United States to add her to its great and growing family of states. This was done[8] in 1845. But, as we shall presently see, a war soon broke out (1846) between the United States and Mexico, and when that war was ended we obtained a great deal more land at the west.

US in 1845
Map showing the extent of the United States after we added Texas in 1845. The black and white bars show that the ownership of the Oregon country was still in dispute between the United States and Great Britain.

3 Alamo (Al'a-mo).

4 Pioneers: those who go before to prepare the way for others; the first settlers in a country are its pioneers.

5 Travis (Tra'vis).

6 Bowie (Bow'e).

7 See map in this paragraph.

8 See map in this paragraph.

231. General Sam Houston in the great war between the North and the South; what he said.—We have seen the part which General Sam Houston took in getting new country to add to the United States. He lived in Texas for many years after that. When, in 1861, the great war broke out between the North and the South, General Houston was governor of the state. He withdrew from office and went home to his log cabin in Huntsville. He refused to take any part in the war, for he loved the Union,—that is, the whole country, North and South together,—and he said to his wife, "My heart is broken." Before the war ended he was laid in his grave.[9]

9 General Houston was buried at Huntsville, about eighty miles northwest of the city of Houston, Texas.

232. Summary.—General Sam Houston of Tennessee led the people of Texas in their war against Mexico. The Texans gained the victory, and made their country an independent state with General Houston as its president. After a time Texas was added to the United States. We then had a war with Mexico, and added a great deal more land at the west. General Houston died during the war between the North and the South.

Tell about Sam Houston and the Indians. Where did Houston go after he became governor of Tennessee? Where did Houston go next? What did he say he would do about Texas? What was David Crockett's motto? What is said about Fort Alamo? What about the battle with the Mexicans? What did Texas become? To what office was Houston elected? What is said of the Texas flag? When was Texas added to the United States? What war then broke out? What did we get by that war? What is said of General Houston in the great war between the North and the South?