The New Washington Association was formed in mid-1834 by a group of New York investors to raise funds to buy a strategic high peninsula overlooking the San Jacinto River at the head of Galveston Bay. They planned to build a town and made James Morgan of Texas their agent and manager. On December 22, 1834, Morgan paid $3,200 in promissory notes for the 1,600-acre homesite of Nicholas Clopper and held the title in trust for the association. Formal articles of agreement were signed in New York on October 23, 1835 making John Haggarty, Thomas E. Davis, and Alexander H. Dana members of a board of managers. Members of the association included Samuel Swartwout, president, and James W. Webb, John B. Austin, John S. Bartlett, William Dall, and Stephen Sicard, as well as Joseph Avenzana and Lorenzo de Zavala of Mexico City. James Treat, formerly Mexican consul in New York, was secretary. The investors bought two small schooners, the Kosciusko and the Flash, to transport goods and passengers to the new city and sent workmen to build a dwelling house, two warehouses, and various outbuildings. In 1850 the investors claimed their expenses were $60,000. The two vessels arrived in December 1835 and began making trips to New Orleans early in 1836 when the Texas Revolution began. The new government of the Republic of Texas chartered the vessels to bring troops and supplies to Texas from New Orleans. On April 16, while Morgan was in command at Galveston Island, Col. Juan N. Almonte and a company of dragoons arrived and seized the warehouses and buildings; Santa Anna and the main force of the Mexican army reached New Washington around the nineteenth. The Mexicans consumed or destroyed what was stored in the warehouses, slaughtered cattle, seized horses, and appropriated the lighter used to land merchandise from vessels anchored in the river. When they left to attack Sam Houston's army on Buffalo Bayou on April 20 they burned all of the buildings. The company tried to collect damages from the Republic of Texas and was promised scrip for Texas land, but the republic was unable to secure a foreign loan in order to finance its debts. Finally, the association entered a claim against Mexico after the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848. The commissioners refused the petition in 1851 because members of the association had participated in the war against Mexico, thus making their property subject to attack. The NWA, as Morgan called it, continued to invest in tracts of land on the Trinity, including the site of the speculative town of Swartwout, and in waterways besides the Trinity in southeastern Texas. In 1847 Morgan tried to collect the $30,000 that the company owed him, and Swartwout listed the assets as 750 shares of stock and acreage amounting to 130,000 acres, valued at $32,800. How to divide the assets to pay Morgan remained unresolved through 1852. The NWA probably ended about this time.
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Feris A. Bass, Jr., and B. R. Brunson, eds., Fragile Empires: The Texas Correspondence of Samuel Swartwout and James Morgan, 1836–1856 (Austin: Shoal Creek, 1978). William R. Hogan, The Texas Republic: A Social and Economic History (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1946; rpt. 1969). James Morgan Papers, Rosenberg Library, Galveston. Andrew Forest Muir, "The Municipality of Harrisburg, 1835–1836," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 56 (July 1952). Andrew Forest Muir, "The Union Company in Anahuac, 1831–1833," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 70 (October 1966). John A. Rockwell Papers, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas.
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
Margaret S. Henson,
“New Washington Association,”
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed May 21, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Original Publication Date:
Most Recent Revision Date:
May 1, 1995