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McWashington, James (ca. 1840–unknown)

Paul M. Lucko Biography

James McWashington, who represented Montgomery County at the state Constitutional Convention of 1868–69, was born into slavery in Alabama around 1840. He had lived in Texas for sixteen years when he won election to the convention in 1868 and served on the Finance Committee. McWashington displayed interest in measures that would exempt certain property from seizure for unpaid debts and prevent duelists from holding office. He also unsuccessfully advocated policies to protect property rights of females and to legalize marriages made among free Blacks during the period when slavery existed. He opposed the chartering of a railroad corporation in which important stockholders would be former Confederates and voted against dividing Texas into more than one state. He was one of five Black delegates to sign the Constitution of 1869. During the election of that year McWashington ran unsuccessfully for the state legislature on the conservative Republican ticket. He was a farmer and was married to a woman named Elizabeth, with whom he had nine children by 1880.

J. Mason Brewer, Negro Legislators of Texas and Their Descendants (Dallas: Mathis, 1935; 2d ed., Austin: Jenkins, 1970). Harrel Budd, The Negro in Politics in Texas, 1867–1898 (M.A. thesis, University of Texas, 1925). Merline Pitre, Through Many Dangers, Toils and Snares: The Black Leadership of Texas, 1868–1900 (Austin: Eakin, 1985).


  • Peoples
  • African Americans
  • Politics and Government

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Paul M. Lucko, “McWashington, James,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed September 29, 2020,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

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