The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 59, July 1955 - April, 1956 Page: 40
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A argo of CaMds i alvestou
EARL W. FORNELL
AN ENTRY in the Annual Trade Report of Her Majesty's Con-
sul at Galveston, Arthur T. Lynn, to the Foreign Office,
for the year 1858, includes an item of eighty-nine camels
at a declared value of $9,561.1 It was the American ship Thomas
Watson, which, on October 16, 1858, carried this strange cargo
into the port under the personal supervision of the vessel's osten-
sible owner, Mrs. M. J. Watson. This intrepid woman, who, in
the manner of Jefferson Davis in 1856, appeared to be attempt-
ing to introduce an ancient form of transportation to the coastal
plains of Texas, had the misfortune of entering the port during
a period when the city was infested by an epidemic of fever.2
In order to protect the health of Her Majesty's Empire, Consul
Lynn had determined to refuse to grant clean bills of health to
vessels wishing to leave Galveston for British ports. The
Consul was burdened not only with an unusually firm habit of
official compliance with Her Majesty's regulations, but also with
a strong moral distaste for anyone who might be engaged in
the African slave trade. The Consul did not entertain the admira-
tion expressed by Galveston newspapers for the enterprise shown
by the venturesome Mrs. Watson in trying to introduce the
"ships of the desert" to the coastal plains of Texas, for the travel-
wise nose of Consul Lynn suspected correctly that some cargo
other than "foul smelling camels" had been in the holds of the
Thomas Watson, while she had sailed leisurely along the Gulf
coast before putting in to Galveston. Her Majesty's agent deter-
mined to impede Mrs. Watson's slave-trading enterprise in a
skein of British red tape.3
lArthur T. Lynn, Annual Report of British Consulate, Galveston, Texas,
on Shipping, Navigation, Trade, Commerce, Agriculture, Population and Indus-
tries, to British Foreign Office, 1858 (MSS, Consular Reports and Letters in British
Foreign Office Papers, 1850-1860, British Public Record Office, London. Hereafter
referred to as F.O.).
2Lynn to Earl of Malmesbury, December 4, 1858, ibid.; Lynn to George Ham-
mond, April 2o, 1859, ibid.
sLynn to Lord Lyons (British Minister, Washington), March 23, 1859, ibid.;
Howard to Earl of Clarendon, April 7, 1857, ibid.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 59, July 1955 - April, 1956, periodical, 1956; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101162/m1/52/?rotate=90: accessed August 19, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.