In 1836, Sam Houston was elected to be the first president of the Republic of Texas and was a major political figure in Texas' creation. He served first in Congress and later as the governor of Tennessee before becoming the president of the Republic of Texas, a post he held twice. He also served as a senator for the state of Texas.
Houston was born in Lexington, Virginia, in 1793 and was the son of a veteran of the Revolutionary War. He died when Houston was just 14, after which time Houston and his mother moved to Tennessee where he developed a relationship with the Cherokee Indians, eventually becoming immersed in their lifestyle and learning their language.
Houston joined the military and served under Andrew Jackson during the War of 1812. It was Jackson who suggested that Houston pursue politics. After serving two terms as a congressman, he won the governorship of Tennessee in 1827. After a failed marriage, Houston married a Cherokee woman and became a representative for the Cherokee Nation in Washington, D.C.
Houston was instrumental in securing Texas' independence from Mexico and was named as the Lone Star Republic's first president. Texas joined the United States 10 years later, in 1846.