Sam Houston was a complicated figure in American history. While governor of Tennessee, his wife left him soon after they wed. Chagrined, he left Tennessee to live with the Cherokee, married a woman, and left her to go to Texas. All along, there were stories of his fierce temper, womanizing and excessive alcohol consumption. He was known as “The Big Drunk.”

In spite of his flaws, he was a leader and was placed in charge of the Revolutionary Texan Army. He won the battle that ultimately resulted in Texas’ independence. Houston later became president of the Texas Republic, then senator and governor when it became a state. Later in life, he married again. His third wife had a settling influence in him, including leading him to become a committed Christian. He decided to be baptized in the Baptist immersion tradition. His baptism was so momentous there is an historical marker at the site.

After the baptism someone said, “Well General, all your sins have been washed away.” Houston replied, “If that be so, God help the fish down below.” While we know sins do not literally pass into the water, Houston understood something profound: He knew he was a great sinner and all his sins—many and significant—were forgiven through the blood of Christ.

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