Margaret Swett Henson

THOMPSON, THOMAS M. [MEXICO] (?–?). Thomas M. (Mexico) Thompson was a native of Great Britain who became an American citizen in New Orleans during the early 1830s, when he served on vessels owned by J. S. Zacharie, a Mexican commission merchant. At one time Thompson kept a levee tavern. Like other British and American seamen, he seized the opportunity for fast promotion in the Mexican navy and became a lieutenant by 1835. He took command of the Mexican armed schooner Correo de México in July 1835 and sailed from Matamoros to Anahuac with money to relieve Antonio Tenorio. When he found a notice posted in Anahuac from the political chief of Nacogdoches ordering the local militia to organize, Thompson issued a warning that such a call was illegal under national law. As he sailed down Galveston Bay on his way home, he seized a small sloop chartered by Andrew J. Yates and others on its way to Velasco. Because it had no papers, he confiscated the vessel and set the men and goods ashore before continuing to the Brazos. Suspecting smuggling, he seized the brig Tremont, also without papers, which was leaving Velasco for Pensacola with a load of lumber; he put a prize crew on board and ordered the vessel to Veracruz. A group of Texas volunteers boarded the steamer Laura and started after the Tremont and the Correo. Thompson ordered the prize crew off the Tremont when both vessels were becalmed close to shore.

At this juncture, the schooner San Felipe appeared from New Orleans, and the steamer Laura went to tow her in. On board was Stephen F. Austin, returning from imprisonment in Mexico City, along with a cargo of munitions for the Texans. The Laura transferred the passengers from the San Felipe to the shore and then towed the schooner towards the Correo. Thompson and most of his crew were wounded by rifle fire, and the Correo's two guns were damaged. During the night Thompson managed to drift away, but in the morning the Laura rejoined the fray and towed the San Felipe to the becalmed Correo. Thompson struck his colors, and the Texan boarding party discovered that the English captain could not produce a copy of his commission, although ample orders confirmed his claim. Capt. William A. Hurd ordered Thompson arrested as a pirate and confined the crew. The San Felipe pressed charges of piracy in New Orleans federal district court. The case was heard in January 1836 before a biased audience and jury, and when Henry Carleton, the United States prosecutor, and Pierre Soule, Thompson's defense attorney, became abusive, the federal judge jailed the lawyers and released the officers and crew of the Correo. Thompson returned to service at Matamoros, and, having been promised a commission in the Texas Navy, changed his allegiance. When William H. Wharton, returning to Texas from New Orleans on board the Independence, was captured by two Mexican brigs on April 17, 1837, and imprisoned at Matamoros, Thompson arranged for his escape and then fled to Texas. Sam Houston rewarded him by naming him commander at Velasco, but he was unpopular. He moved with his family to Galveston, where he remained until about 1841. He sailed for Tabasco, where he was killed in a brawl.

Jim Dan Hill, The Texas Navy (New York: Barnes, 1962). John H. Jenkins, ed., The Papers of the Texas Revolution, 1835–1836 (10 vols., Austin: Presidial Press, 1973).

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

Handbook of Texas Online, Margaret Swett Henson, "THOMPSON, THOMAS M. [MEXICO]," accessed February 22, 2020,

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
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