Diplomat and agriculturalist dies
On this day in 1844, John Stryker died of a fever at his home in Victoria County. Stryker, born in New Jersey in 1803, entered into a business partnership with James Wiley Magoffin in the late 1820s. They purchased the sloop Washington and arrived in Matamoros, Tamaulipas, in February 1830 with a newly designed cotton gin and several hundred bags of upland cotton seed. The partners distributed the seed free to local landowners in the Rio Grande valley. Upland cotton proved profitable, and Magoffin moved to Chihuahua to extend the business. In January 1835 President Andrew Jackson appointed Stryker United States consul for the port of Goliad (later the port of Matagorda). Stryker's influence, both positive and negative, in the Rio Grande valley continued long after his death. Although long-staple (Sea Island) cotton had formerly grown in the region, its cultivation was confined to coastal areas. A profitable cotton culture was possible only after Stryker and Magoffin introduced upland cotton and the cotton gin. The vast cotton fields in the Rio Grande valley later provided the pathway for the introduction of the boll weevil into the United States.