Discover Austin: Famous Texans - Episode 85

If you're new to Texas, you should know that Sam Houston and Stephen F. Austin are two of the most prominent individuals in Texas history and they're highlighted in this episode of Discover Austin. If you'd prefer to read about these two Texans, the transcript can be found below the video.

Sam Houston is one of the titans of Texas history.  He was born in Virginia in 1793, but his family made its way to Tennessee.  He joined the US Army at age 20 and quickly climbed the ranks.  He was elected to the US congress and then governor of Tennessee.  By 1832, he arrived in Texas as he felt it would be full of opportunity.  A few years later, he was a major general in the Texas army.  He was a delegate at Washington-on-the-Brazos, signed the Declaration of Texas Independence, then was put in charge of the Texas military forces.  He and his army defeated Santa Anna at the battle of San Jacinto on April 21, 1836, thus securing Texas Independence.  Later that year, he was elected the first president of the Republic of Texas.  Because of term limits, he could not serve consecutive terms, but was elected again to serve as the Third President of Texas in 1841.  He was an early advocate of Texas’ annexation into the United States, but it wasn’t until 1845 that there was broad support for this to happen.  In 1846, he was elected as one of the first two US Senators from the state of Texas.  His opposition to the Kansas-Nebraska bill essentially ended his senate career.  He lost his bid for Texas governor in 1857, but was successful in his gubernatorial bid in 1859.  As the Civil War approached, he considered himself a southern man for the union cause.  He believed the war would be won by the north and would devastate the south.  Though he opposed secession from the union, the went along with it in an attempt to avoid bloodshed and strife in Texas.  After refusing to take an oath of allegiance to the newly-formed Confederacy, he was removed as governor in 1861.  He retired to Huntsville where he died in 1863 at the age of 70.  To recap, he served as both the President of the Republic of Texas and the governor of the state of Texas.  He was also the governor of Tennessee giving him the distinction of being the only person to be the governor of two different states.  As you may have surmised, the city of Houston, is named after him.

Stephen F. Austin, was known as the “Father of Texas” because he colonized a sparsely populated area of northern Mexico, that would, of course, become Texas.  Like Sam Houston, he was born in Virginia in 1793.  He moved around through several states and was recognized as a mature man suitable for leadership positions.  In early 1821, the Mexican government granted Austin’s father a permit to settle 300 families in Texas.  His dad died shortly thereafter so this permit was transferred to Stephen Austin.  Known as Austin’s Colony, it was a large land area that today spreads across 19 counties in Southeast Texas bounded generally by the Lavaca and San Jacinto Rivers, the Gulf of Mexico, and extending up not quite as far as present-day Austin.  He was instrumental in surveying and mapping the region.  He was skilled at recruiting settlers and handling the administration of the area.  By the summer of 1824, almost three hundred land grants had been issued - these are known as the Old Three Hundred.  Stephen Austin obtained three more contracts from Mexico to settle colonies as well as one contract in partnership with Samuel Williams.  In total, Austin issued around 2000 land grants and settled over 8,000 people in Texas.  Early on, he was very much a supporter of the Mexican government and tried to keep relations between them and the settlers harmonious.  However, as the leaders of Mexico changed, so did the governments attitudes towards the Texans.  Eventually, Austin came to agree with those who wanted Texas independence.  While he wasn’t heavily involved with the actual military side of things, he was instrumental in heading up logistics such as getting volunteers, arranging credit for weapons, and things like that.  After Texas gained its Independence, Austin ran for president but lost to Houston who then named him Secretary of State.  He was not a hearty man and, after developing pneumonia in late 1836, Austin died at age 43.  Of course, the city of Austin is named after him.

Both Sam Houston and Stephen F. Austin are giants in Texas History.  While this is just a brief overview, I invite you to take some time to dive deeper into not just the lives of these two men, but also the general history of our great state.   I’m Craig Smyser with 1835 Realty.  Thanks for joining me for this episode of Discover Austin.  And remember, when you’re ready to buy or sell a home in Central Texas, I’m ready to help.

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