Monday, September 5, 2016


JFK+50:  Volume 6, No. 2060


Velasco, Texas (JFK+50) A century and eighty years ago today, Samuel Houston* was elected the first president of the Republic of Texas here in the temporary capital of Velasco**.  Houston received 79.4% of the vote defeating Henry Smith and Stephen F. Austin.  

Sam Houston served from 1836 to 1838 and then for a second term from 1841-1844.  He had moved to Texas in 1835 where he took command of the revolutionary forces opposing Mexican general Santa Anna.  Houston also served as a delegate to the Texas Convention which declared for a republic in 1836.  Houston's army defeated Santa Anna at the Battle of San Jacinto on April 21 1836.

After his service as president of the Republic of Texas, Sam Houston served as United States Senator from 1846 to 1859 and Governor of Texas from 1859 to 1861.

As chronicled by Senator John F. Kennedy in his book Profiles In Courage, Sam Houston led the fight against the secession of his state from the Union.  He warned...

"To secede...and set up another government would cause war.  If you go to war with the United States you will never conquer her...if she does not whip you by guns, powder and steel, she will starve you to death."

Houston's stand placed him virtually alone among his fellow Texans.  The state voted 109-2 for secession.

JFK wrote that in standing against secession Houston chose principle over "all he had ever won or wanted."   His one consistent quality was "indomitable individualism."

*Samuel Houston (1793-1863) was born in Rockbridge County, VA & moved to Maryville, TN where he taught school.  In 1818, he became a local prosecutor in Nashville after having passed the bar.  In 1822, SH was elected to the House of Representatives where he served from 1823-1827.  He was elected Governor of Tennessee in 1827 but resigned after his young wife left him.

SH traveled west to the Arkansas Territory where he became an adopted Cherokee.  SH died at the age of 70.

**Velasco, Texas served as the temporary capital of Texas from April to September 1836.  Columbia became the first capital of the elected government of the Republic of Texas in October 1836.  JFK+50 assumes that Velasco was capital at the time of the first presidential election on Sept 5, 1836.


"Profiles In Courage," by John F. Kennedy, Harper and Brothers, 1955.

"Samuel Houston," Famous Texans,

"Sam Houston elected as president of Texas,"


Sam Houston Gravesite Marker 
by Pompeo Coppini                       
Photo by J. Williams (2003)