Born in Virginia, Sam Houston (1793-1863) became a lawyer, congressman and senator in Tennessee. After moving to Texas in 1832, he joined the growing conflict between U.S. settlers and the Mexican government and became commander of the local army. On April 21, 1836, Houston and his men defeated Mexican General Antonio López de Santa Anna at San Jacinto to secure Texan independence. He was voted president in 1836 and again in 1841, then served as a senator after Texas became a state in 1845. Despite his pro-slavery views, he believed in preserving the Union. He became governor in 1859, but was removed from office after the secession of Texas in 1861.