Today the Texas Centennial Silver Half-Dollar coin tells a small part of the story of Sam Houston.
Born in Virginia in 1793, young Sam was the fifth child and fifth son of a family that would have nine children.
When he was thirteen, his father died. In the spring of 1807, the family moved to eastern Tennessee to farm.
Sam, however, did not like farming. Instead, he ran away to live with the Cherokee. Chief Oolooteka adopted him and gave him the Indian name of Colonneh or “the Raven.”
At age eighteen, he left his Cherokee home. When the war of 1812 began, young Sam joined the United States Army.
Wounded in battle, his bravery caught the attention of General Andrew Jackson. They became staunch allies over the next few years.
After Houston left the Army with wounds that did not heal properly, he began studying law and opened a practice in Lebanon, Tennessee.
As a result of his law interests and his support of Andrew Jackson, Houston served as adjutant general with a rank of colonel in the state militia, attorney general for the District of Nashville, major general of the state militia, representative to the US Congress, and at age 34, the governor of Tennessee.
After a marriage that went sour in 1829, Houston resigned from the governorship and exiled himself across the Mississippi River into Indian Territory.
He joined his Indian father, Chief Oolooteka, now in Oklahoma, and other than correspondence with Andrew Jackson, did not communicate with his past associations.
After several years with the Indians, at which time he was granted Cherokee citizenship, and working as their tribal emissary, Houston once again moved.
This time, he crossed the Red River into Mexican Texas in December 1832.
Through his self-exile, he avoided politics for a short time, but it seemed to be in his blood.
In Texas, he quickly joined the Anglo-Texans’ politics of rebellion.
By October 1835, Sam Houston, as one of their rebellion leaders, determined that a war between Texas and the central government was inevitable.
In November 1835, the group appointed Sam Houston to the rank of major general of the Texas army.
As the rebellion became more formalized, the Texans held a convention and developed a Declaration of Independence.
Afterwards, Houston became the official major general of the army from the convention and tasked with organizing the military for the rebellion.
His military, the Texas rebels, consisted of citizenry members that were a rag tag group of men.
However, after fits and starts in their fight against Santa Anna’s forces, Houston and his men won the battle of San Jacinto.
The next day, they captured General Santa Anna for a decisive victory.
His horse shot from beneath him and taking a severe wound to his ankle during the battle, Sam Houston became a hero for the Texans and known as “Old Sam Jacinto.”
In the fall of 1836, the new Republic of Texas elected Houston their first president over his opponent Stephen Austin.
Houston began his first of two terms as president on October 22, 1836, 178 years ago.
The Texas Centennial Silver Half-Dollar Coin shows against a drawing from 1836 showing General Santa Anna and his brother-in-law General Martin Perfecto de Cos surrendering to Sam Houston.