The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 59, July 1955 - April, 1956 Page: 43
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A Cargo of Camels in Galveston
owned by a compatriot of Consul Lynn, named Samuel Parsons,
an impecunious trader, who operated a small mercantile estab-
lishment in Kingston, Jamaica. The Commerce had been forced
into the port of Galveston because of a leaking bottom. All of the
crew members on the vessel, except the master, J. S. Pearce, were
"free persons of color." As Texas law made it a criminal offense
for a ship master to introduce free colored persons into the state,
the crew members, in compliance with the law, were confined in
the county jail.12 Since the port was at that time suffering from
the fever epidemic, and because confinement in the close and
unhealthy quarters of the jail amounted to a virtual inoculation
with the dreaded fever, Consul Lynn made a personal plea before
the county judge of Galveston to permit the crew to be confined
under arrest on board the schooner Commerce, rather than in
the "unhealthy gaol of this country." The judge agreed to permit
this procedure "as a special favor to Her Majesty."13
Through a most unhappy circumstance, there were no vacant
berths at the wharves in Galveston at the time when the Commerce
arrived. The harbor-master had ordered the schooner to "make
fast" to the vessel Thomas Watson, which was lashed to a wharf.
On October 31, a sudden gale "had sprung up from the North"
and, as a result of being thrust against the Commerce, the "copper
plates" on the bottom of the Thomas Watson were damaged. The
fenders of the Watson failed to provide the usual protection for
the ship, "because, by that time, she was riding high, being
without her ballast" of either camels or slaves. Because of the
various circumstances involved, Mrs. Watson did not accept this
incident in a gracious manner.4
Upon the suggestion of Lynn, the master of the Commerce
had already gone to New Orleans to secure funds with which to
repair the leak in his vessel, as it was impossible to raise the
needed funds by a "bottomry award," because of the precarious
condition of the Commerce. Being cognizant of both maritime
law and the rules concerning the admissibility of testimony by
12Lynn to Samuel Parsons, February 21, 1859, Records, Galveston Consulate, ibid.;
Lynn to Lord Lyons, April 27, 1859, ibid.
14Samuel Parsons to Lynn, January 28, 1859, ibid.; Lynn to Lord Lyons, March
2S, 1859, 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/m1/55/: accessed July 24, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.