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A portrait of Sam Houston, commander of the Texas army during the Revolution and first President of the Republic of Texas, ca. 1859.

Sam Houston was born in Virginia but lived among the Cherokee population of Tennessee as a young man and served as governor of Tennessee before leaving the state to move to Arkansas and later Texas. Houston became the commander of the Texas army during the Revolution, leading the army during the victorious Battle of San Jacinto. Following the Revolution, Houston was elected as the first President of the Republic of Texas, during which time he advocated for Texas’ admission to the United States as a state. After Texas was admitted, Houston served as governor of the state, but resigned in 1861 because he refused to recognize the state’s secession from the United States and swear allegiance to the Confederacy.