In 1793, on this day the 19th-century Virginian statesman Samuel Houston was born on his family's plantation near Timber Ridge Church in Rockbridge County.
Birth of Governor Samuel HoustonDesperately needing to leave his considerable debt behind, the elder Samuel Houston decided to move the family to the frontier when his fifth born son was fourteen years old. Tragically, his father died shortly after patenting land in East Tennessee. And his widow Elizabeth decided it was too risky to move their five sons and three daughters to the new state.
Fifty-five years later Houston did become the resident of a new frontier state but at a time when the Union itself faced similiar heartbreaking decisions on a national scale.
Delegates of the second Wheeling Conventions elected Houston to serve as the first governor of the key Civil War border state of West Virginia, which alongside Nevada, was one of only two states formed during the American Civil War.
On condition that a provision for the gradual abolition of slavery be inserted in its constitution, Abraham Lincoln admitted West Virginia into the Union. The President's declaration promoted an immediate response; General John D. Imboden, with five thousand Confederates overran a considerable portion of the state.
In a desperate last stand, Governor Houston called upon West Virginians to defend the Union-occupied City of Alexandria. Down to the last man, if necessary.