James Morgan (1787-1866)
James Morgan came to Texas in 1830, where he founded a mercantile company in Brazoria. Morgan and his partner, John Reed, were among the first to defy the customs collector at Anahuac, and Morgan became a leader in the drive for independence.
In 1835, Morgan acted as agent for a real estate company founded by Lorenzo de Zavala, and settled a large number of Scottish immigrants and free blacks in Texas (including Emily West, the so-called Yellow Rose of Texas).
From these early beginnings came Morgan's involvement in the naval affairs. Like McKinney & Williams, he supplied the Republic of Texas from his mercantile and allowed the government to use his ships. He also acted as commandant of Galveston and fortified the island during the climactic months of spring 1836.
After his 1843 adventure with the Texas Navy, Morgan became a pioneer in the cattle business and acted as an early promoter of the project that became the Houston Ship Channel. As an elderly man, despite the total loss of his eyesight, he twice saved himself from drowning when going by boat across the Trinity River.
Private & Confidential
New Orleans 8th April 1843.
My Dear Genl,
Col. Bryan arrived on the eveng. of the 3rd in the
Neptune, bringing with him just the right kind of documents to put
men & matters right! (I, also, had the pleasure to receive your private
letter of the 26th ulto). I sought Com. M. out instanter and handed
him the letter from the Department which being unseal’d (fortunately)
created no very pleasant Sensations, which was very perceptable [sic], and threw
him all aback by frustrating an evident determination on one point—that
no Seal was to be broken in case of any Seal’d document being recd
by him from any department! He inquired, instantly, how & why it was
that communication came from the W & Marine Department
to him unseal’d—and if I knew the contents, told him I did. He then
left me but soon return’d again (having perused his letter) when
we entered into conversation and I gave him distinctly to understand
that the Commissioners had but one course to pursue—that our orders
were positive, and however painful their execution might be, that they
would be carried out to the letter, regardless of consequences,
unless the vessels were made subject to our Control at once. He came
to terms immediately, and agreed to proceed forthwith to Texas & report
himself to the Department in person[,] and to prevent all further ____ [?]
by “burning” or otherwise[.] I shall go with the vessels direct to Galveston
where they will be under the eye & control of the Govt and beyond
the reach of any influence in this quarter. Great exertions had been made
during Col. Bryans [sic] absence to get the vessels out before his return. They
had been put in good order, provisioned in ful[l] for the Cruise with
most of the crew
James Morgan to Sam Houston, April 8, 1843. Andrew Jackson Houston Papers #3013, Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.