The Racer's Hurricane of 1837

Hurricane season isn't finished yet, folks! Hurricanes have struck during October in the past. One such hurricane swept along the entire Texas coast during the first week of October in 1837. Named the Racer's Hurricane after the British naval ship that it damaged, the hurricane battered the coast between Matamoros, Mexico, and Venice, Louisiana.

Below is a letter regarding the hurricane from New York financier Samuel Swartwout to James Morgan, commandant of Galveston Island during the Texas Revolution. Swartwout writes that he heard "Galveston Island is done up" and that the land will now be "regarded as a dangerous place for a city or even a residence." Swartwout also wonders, somewhat hopefully it seems, if Houston was "overflowed" and "inundated." Swartwout and Morgan wanted the capital of the new republic to be at New Washington, the town Morgan founded, instead of at Houston. Swartwout hoped that a flooded Houston would encourage support for New Washington.

New Washington lost the capital contest to Houston, although the capital moved to Austin shortly afterwards. We can imagine Swartwout's surprise if he saw the bustling cities of Houston and Galveston today, floods or no floods!

This letter, as well as many other documents from the collection of James Morgan, are housed at the Galveston and Texas History Center and can be viewed on our website by accessing the James Morgan papers finding aid in the Archives Catalog.

James Morgan papers, MS31-0406, Rosenberg Library, Galveston, Texas.