2nd President of Texas
Houston's political reputation suffered further due to the publicity related to the trial for his assault of Stanbery. He asked his second wife, Tiana Rodgers, a Cherokee, to go with him to Mexican Texas. She chose to stay at their cabin and trading post in present-day Kansas. She later married a man named John McGrady, and died of pneumonia in 1838. Houston married again after his divorce from Eliza Allen in 1837 and Tiana's death.
Houston left for Texas in December 1832 and was immediately swept up in the politics of what was still a territory of the Mexican state of Coahuila. Attending the Convention of 1833 as representative for Nacogdoches, Houston emerged as a supporter of William Harris Wharton and his brother, who promoted independence from Mexico. This was the more radical position of the American settlers and Tejanos in Texas. He also attended the Consultation of 1835. The Texas Army commissioned him as Major General in November 1835. He negotiated a peace settlement with the Cherokee of East Texas in February 1836 to allay their fears about independence. At the convention to declare Texan Independence in March 1836, Houston was selected as Commander-in-Chief.
Republic of Texas
Houston was twice elected President of the Republic of Texas. In the 1836 election, he defeated Stephen F. Austin and Henry Smith with a landslide of over 79% of the vote. Houston served from October 22, 1836, to December 10, 1838, and again from December 12, 1841, to December 9, 1844.
While he initially sought annexation by the U.S., Houston dropped that goal during his first term. In his second term, he strove for fiscal prudence and worked to make peace with the various tribes of Native Americans in the Republic. He also struggled to avoid war with Mexico, whose forces invaded twice during 1842. In response to the Regulator–Moderator War of 1844, he sent in Republic militia to put down the feud.
Houston still believed that the U.S annexation of Texas was not a realistic goal and the U.S. Senate would never pass it because of the delicate situation between the recently independent Texas and Mexico. However, Houston was a politician and as such he sought to preserve his career by endorsing the support of annexation into the U.S. Without his endorsement, the Texas congress would have put the question to public election and upon its likely passing would have effectively destroyed Houston's career as a Texas politician. To help save his political reputation, Houston sent James Pinckney Henderson to Washington to help Van Zandt advocate the annexation of Texas.