In 1838 Republic of Texas vice president Mirabeau B. Lamar gazed from a hilltop toward the paradise at his feet and saw the future. Lamar’s equally awestruck companions, no strangers to beautiful landscapes, shuffled speechlessly nearby. But where these men saw only nature’s handiwork, Lamar visualized a glorious manmade transformation. And he knew that with the presidency of the republic in his grasp, he would soon be in position to achieve this vision. The founding of Austin sparked one of the republic’s first great political battles, pitting Lamar against another Texas titan: Sam Houston, the hero of San Jacinto and a man both loved and hated throughout the republic. Standing between Lamar and his imperial capital in the wilderness were hardships of the frontier, the mighty Comanche nation, the Mexican army, and Houston’s formidable political might.