who was the first elected president of the republic of texas?
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Sam Houston elected first president of the Republic of Texas
In 1836, Sam Houston, the victor of San Jacinto, was elected president of the newly founded Republic of Texas. Candidates for the office had included Henry Smith, governor of the provisional government, and Stephen F. Austin. Houston became an active candidate just eleven days before the election. He received 5,119 votes, Smith 743, and Austin 587. Mirabeau B. Lamar, the “keenest blade” at San Jacinto, was elected vice president. Houston received strong support from the army and from those who believed that his election would ensure internal stability, hasten recognition by world powers, and bring about early annexation to the United States. He served two terms as president of the republic and was subsequently a United States senator and governor of the state of Texas.
PRESIDENTS OF THE REPUBLIC OF TEXAS
Four presidents served the Republic of Texas during that time. First came interim president David G. Burnet, who was selected for the post by the second meeting of the Consultation in March 1836. Burnet was never elected by the people, so he was really a caretaker for the Consultation for six months until Sam Houston became the first elected president of the Republic in September.
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Houston served for two years — a constitutional limitation for the first president only; successors served three-year terms, though none could succeed themselves immediately. Here is a list of Houston’s problems: no money, or really any way to raise it, but a mountain of debt from the revolution; Mexico repudiated the Treaties of Velasco in which Santa Anna agreed to Texas’ independence to save his life, and could have mounted another invasion at any time; and Texas was unrecognized by the nations of the world. Houston sought immediate annexation, on any terms, but anti-slavery forces prevented the US from accepting Texas.
Houston was succeeded in 1838 by Mirabeau Buonaparte Lamar, who had served as Houston’s vice president. It is difficult to imagine men more different in physique, personality, or program.
Houston was a large, boisterous man, Lamar slight of build; Houston was all action, while Lamar was more reserved and thoughtful; and Houston wanted to get Texas into the Union as quickly as possible and bequeath its problems to the larger US, but Lamar wanted Texas to remain independent, even expand to California. Most Texans probably think their concept of self-reliance and independence are the legacy of Houston. In fact, these traits better describe Lamar.
Lamar could not retain the presidency in 1841, so Houston took another turn. Lamar had spent millions of borrowed money, but Houston spent only $600,000 in three years and renewed efforts to join the Union. He got close. His administration negotiated a treaty that would have added Texas to the US as a territory, but it failed by a single vote in the US Senate. That rejection affected presidential elections in both nations and produced annexation advocates in both — James K. Polk in the US and Anson Jones in Texas.
Jones served a year in which Congress admitted Texas as a state by joint resolution, effective December 29, 1845. Jones styled himself thereafter as the Architect of Annexation but the claim is hollow for he actually reaped the seeds sown and tended by old “Sam Jacinto” for six of the preceding nine years.
Sam Houston Biography
American lawyer and politician; president of Republic of Texas
Sam Houston, byname of Samuel Houston, (born March 2, 1793, Rockbridge county, Virginia, U.S.—died July 26, 1863, Huntsville, Texas),
American lawyer and politician, a leader in the Texas Revolution (1834–36) who later served as president of the Republic of Texas (1836–38; 1841–44)
and who was instrumental in Texas’s becoming a U.S. state (1845).
In his youth Houston moved with his family to a farm in rural Tennessee after the death of his father in 1807. He ran away in his mid-teens and lived for nearly three years with the Cherokee Indians in eastern Tennessee, where he took the name Black Raven and learned the Cherokee language,
skills, and customs. Houston thus developed a rapport with the Indians that was unique for his day. As a consequence,
after service in the War of 1812 and an interlude of study and teaching, in 1817 Houston became a U.S. subagent assigned to
manage the removal of the Cherokee from Tennessee to a reservation in the Arkansas Territory.
He returned to Nashville to practice law and from 1823 to 1827 served as a U.S. congressman. He was elected governor of
Tennessee in 1827. After a brief unsuccessful marriage to Eliza Allen in 1829, he resigned his office; he again sought refuge
among the Cherokee and was formally adopted into the tribe. He twice went to Washington, D.C., to expose frauds practiced
upon the Indians by government agents and in 1832 was sent by Pres. Andrew Jackson to Texas, then a Mexican province, to negotiate Indian treaties for the protection of U.S. border traders.
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Houston’s arrival in Texas coincided with the heated contest between settlers and the Mexican government for control
of the area. He established a home there by 1833, and he quickly emerged as one of the settlers’ main leaders. When they
rose in rebellion against Mexico in November 1835, he was chosen commander in chief of their army (an appointment
that was formally confirmed after the adoption of the Texas Declaration of Independence on March 2, 1836). The revolt
suffered reverses during the winter, but on April 21, 1836, Houston and a force of roughly 900 Texans surprised and defeated
some 1,200 to 1,300 Mexicans under Antonio López de Santa Anna at the Battle of San Jacinto. This triumph secured Texan
independence and was followed by Houston’s election as president (1836–38; 1841–44) of the Republic of Texas.
He was influential in gaining the admission of Texas to the United States in 1845. Houston was elected one of the new state’s first two senators, serving as a Union Democrat from 1846 to 1859. His views on the preservation of the union were unpopular with the Texas legislature, however, and on the eve of the Civil War he was not reelected—although he was chosen governor once more in 1859. In this position he tried unsuccessfully to prevent the secession of his state in 1861, and upon his refusal to swear allegiance to the Confederacy, he was declared deposed from office in March.
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