At the edge of the Sam Houston National Forest just south of the city of Huntsville stands a colossal monument honoring Sam Houston (1793-1863), a great American who played such a large role in the history of Texas.
This statue of Houston, 67 feet tall, atop a 10-foot granite base, seems to dwarf the East Texas Piney Woods behind it. Driving north on Interstate Highway 45, a motorist may first view the monument 6 ½ miles away. It is truly a sight to behold.
Designed and built by Huntsville native David Adickes, the monument was first dedicated to the City of Huntsville on Oct. 22, 1994. It took Adickes two years to complete this impressive monument. He entitles his work, “A Tribute to Courage.”
That title should be very apparent to students of Texas history. Most Texans remember Sam Houston as the general who led his Texas troops to victory over the Mexican Army of Gen. Santa Anna at the Battle of San Jacinto on April 21, 1836. It took a great deal of courage and leadership for Gen. Houston to accomplish this feat, which gave Texas its independence.
Sam Houston was so popular at this time that he was elected president of the Republic of Texas. He served two terms as president. Houston favored the annexation of Texas to the United States. This came about in December of 1845 and Texas became the 28th state in the Union. Although this pleased Houston, the annexation of Texas brought on the Mexican War of 1846-1848. Houston was asked to serve as a general in the war. He refused a general’s commission but served as a senator from the new state of Texas. During the 1850s, Sen. Houston provided great leadership in Texas politics and remained popular with the majority of Texans. He was defeated for governor of Texas in 1857 but was elected governor in 1859.
Then, in 1861, with the Civil War on the horizon, Gov. Sam Houston faced a new challenge to his leadership and popularity. Most Texans favored the State’s Rights position of the newly-formed Confederate States of America and the state of Texas voted to secede from the Union. Houston courageously opposed this, and he held to his Unionist views. He was deposed as governor and was forced into political exile. Ex-Gov. Sam Houston left Austin in apparent disgrace and retired to his home in Huntsville, seemingly ignored, ostracized, and forgotten by his adopted state of Texas. He died in July of 1863, but nor before he heard news of a Union victory at Gettysburg, Penn., which, as it turned out to be, was the beginning of the end for the Confederacy.
Sam Houston has certainly not been forgotten in history. David Adickes’ “A Tribute to Courage” is evidence of this. This monument must be seen to be truly appreciated. It is absolutely a fitting tribute to the courage of this great Texan. After viewing the Houston monument, a traveler may wish to stop inside the Sam Houston Statue Visitor’s Center and Gift Shop nearby. The telephone number there is 936-291-9726. For more information about Sam Houston and Huntsville, contact the Huntsville Chamber of Commerce at 800-289-0389.