Forget the Alamo: The Rise and Fall of an American Myth by Bryan Burrough, Chris Tomlinson, and Jason Stanford:
There was a new face around the campfire that evening: Sam Houston, who had wobbled into camp on a tiny yellow stallion. Everyone knew Houston’s tale of woe, if not the man himself. He was hands down the most famous person in Texas, a politician once considered so gifted that, had he not blown up so spectacularly, he might have reached the White House. Instead, he ended up a blackout drunk living with the Cherokee in what is now Oklahoma.
Born in Virginia in 1793, the same year as Austin, Houston grew up in frontier Tennessee. No fan of working the family farm, he ran away to live with a Cherokee family at sixteen. He later joined the army and was severely wounded during the Creek War while serving under Andrew Jackson, who became his mentor. After the army, he became a lawyer, got himself named Tennessee’s solicitor general, and was then elected to Congress in 1823. With Jackson’s backing, he was elected governor in 1827.
He was a rising star on the national stage. People whispered he might succeed Jackson as president. But then, in 1829, he married a plantation owner’s daughter named Eliza Allen. Weeks later she left him—apparently for another man—and Houston fell apart. He resigned as governor and decamped to live with Cherokee friends in Oklahoma. He never talked again about what had happened.