Sam Houston left home at thirteen and went to live with the Cherokee. John Jolley* adopted him as a Cherokee, a trader who himself had been adopted by the Indians. Houston was a life long advocate for the Indians once even going to Washington D.C. in full Indian get up, breech cloth and feathers, which made Andrew Jackson angry. Houston had fought alongside of Indian-hater Jackson against other warring tribes as did other Cherokee allies. Sam received a wound that never quite healed in his thigh. Andrew Jackson pushed Houston forward into politics in Tennessee until Houston was elected governor of the state. Sam married well only to find his new little wife pined away after a lost love, never returning the love he had for her. His wound seemed to repulse her. He walked away from it all, his marriage, his governorship, and became known as "the Big Drunk" back with his Cherokee tribe. After she divorced him, Houston married a Cherokee daughter of John Jolley's. Later he visited Jackson and borrowed money to go to Texas. His Indian wife refused to go with him.
What if Houston had stayed as governor of Tennessee, if only he had enjoyed a good marriage instead of heartbreak? Would he have prevented the treaty that signed away all the Cherokee lands in exchange for a reservation in Oklahoma? Would he have prevented the Trail of Tears?
What if he had? Then he would not have gone to Texas and led to the capture of Santa Ana after the Alamo, and led the independence of Texas as a Republic where he was elected President, then Governor when they joined the Union. He even tried to keep the state from succession in the Civil War. It was there in Texas where he married for a third time to a little Christian lady, Margaret Houston, and found peace with God. He finally lived up to the inscription in the ring his mother had given him at thirteen, "Honor."
Who knows how the tide of history tilts on something as simple as a marriage, being loved and accepted? The little wife of a governor in Tennessee was in her own way determining the history of a nation where many lives hung in the balance from the Cherokee removal to the independence of Texas. Lives hang in the balance in the little band of gold.