Houston is the most populous city in Texas and the fourth-most populous city in the United States, located in Southeast Texas near the Gulf of Mexico. With a census-estimated 2014 population of 2.239 million within a land area of 599.6 square miles (1,553 km2), it also is the largest city in the Southern United States, as well as the seat ofHarris County.
In August 1836, two real estate entrepreneurs from New York—Augustus Chapman Allen andJohn Kirby Allen—purchased 6,642 acres (26.88 km2) of land along Buffalo Bayou with the intent of founding a city. The Allen brothers decided to name the city after Sam Houston, the popular general at the Battle of San Jacinto, who was elected President of Texas in September 1836. The great majority of slaves in Texas came with their owners from the older slave states. Sizable numbers, however, came through the domestic slave trade. New Orleans was the center of this trade in the Deep South, but slave dealers were in Houston. Thousands of enslaved African Americans lived near the city before the Civil War. Many of them near the city worked on sugar and cotton plantations, while most of those in the city limits had domestic and artisan jobs. In 1860, 49% of the city's population was enslaved. A few slaves, perhaps as many as 2,000 between 1835 and 1865, came through the illegal African trade. Post-war Texas grew rapidly as migrants poured into the cotton lands; they also brought or purchased enslaved African Americans, whose numbers nearly tripled in the state from 1850 to 1860, from 58,000 to 182,566.