And why wouldn’t old Sam have such a huge statue? He was the first president of the Republic of Texas and first senator of the biggest state in the union (until Alaska the Usurper took the title in 1959).
The statue stands just outside of Huntsville on IH-45. The visitor center is just behind the statue with a shady walking trail connecting it to the sculpture.
David Adickes began the project during the early part of 1992. He made the 25-ton concrete and steel structure in 10-foot sections, which each contain five layers of reinforced concrete. Fiberglass mesh is incorporated in the outside layer. The statue was dedicated two years later on October 22, 1994. To see how the statue was constructed, go to http://www.huntsvilletexas.com/construction-photos.htm.
Sam Houston, the memorial, is amazing and the man isn’t any different. Opinion about him ranges from hate him to love him, but nobody denies that he had an enormous impact on Texas. The visitor’s center doesn’t say much about old Sam other than offering a chronology of his life. Just based on his sweeping career and geographic changes, I would have said he’s “one of us.” Maybe not one of you but likely an alcoholic like me.
Here’s my chronology of his life. At 16, he ran away from home and lived with the Cherokee Indians. His Indian name was Colleneh (“Raven”). He left the Indians at 18 to start a school. At 19, he joined the Army. At 21, he became an Indian agent to the Cherokees. He bounced from battle to battle, getting wounded and promoted until he was a 26 year old army lieutenant and quit the military. A disagreement with the Secretary of War made him resign as subagent to the Indians.
Sam tied Newt Gingrich in marriages. In 1829 at the age of 36, he married his first wife, Eliza, who was 19 at the time; the marriage lasted for 11 weeks. Was it his affection for Tennessee’s best whiskey or his “unhealing wound” which some historians think refers to an STD that caused the marriage to tank? Neither one of them was indiscreet so nobody knows but the separation cost him his Tennessee governorship since Eliza’s family was well-connected politically.
He moved back in with the Cherokees. Not having divorced Eliza legally, he had to marry Tiana Rogers, wife #2, under Indian law in 1830. He set up a trading post and the Indians probably wanted to change his name to “Drunken Raven” since he drank heavily at that time. He got the hot foot and left the Indian nation and Tiana two years later in 1832.
He ended up in Texas as a land speculator, was baptized a Catholic, and named commander-in-chief of troops in 1835 and was elected President of the Republic after winning the Battle of San Jacinto. He married wife #3, Margaret Lea who was a strict Baptist in 1840 and his drinking was tempered or at least hidden. In 1854, he was born again as a Baptist.
Over the next 23 years until his death in 1963, he and Margaret had 8 children and he served Texas as president (5 years), U. S. senator (15 years), and governor (2 years). He was kicked out as governor because he refused to sign the Confederate oath of allegiance. His words at the time:
“To secede from the Union and set up another government would cause war. If you go to war with the United States, you will never conquer her, as she has the money and the men. If she does not whip you by guns, powder, and steel, she will starve you to death. It will take the flower of the country-the young men.
“In the name of the constitution of Texas, which has been trampled upon, I refuse to take this oath. I love Texas too well to bring civil strife and bloodshed upon her.
“I declare that civil war is inevitable and is near at hand. When it comes the descendants of the heroes of Lexington and Bunker Hill will be found equal in patriotism, courage and heroic endurance with the descendants of the heroes of Cowpens and Yorktown. For this reason I predict the civil war which is now at hand will be stubborn and of long duration.”
When he died in 1863, his dying words were “Texas, Texas. Margaret.” The inscription on his tomb in Huntsville reads:
A Brave Soldier. A Fearless Statesman.
A Great Orator—A Pure Patriot.
A Faithful Friend, A Loyal Citizen.
A Devoted Husband and Father.
A Consistent Christian—An Honest Man.
Love him or hate him? Heck! I love him. He’s one of us!