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Saturday, September 16, 2017

Bowie Knives in Texas, 1839

On the last Sunday of the year 1839, Francis Sheridan, an elegant young Irishman in the British diplomatic service, sailed from Barbados for the Republic of Texas. His mission in the new nation was to contribute the opinion of an eyewitness to the deliberations going on in London concerning proposed recognition of Texas. His observations were published in Galveston Island, or, A Few Months off the Coast of Texas: The Journal of Francis C. Sheridan, 1839–1840. Here are some of his impressions:

Murder and every other Crime is of great frequency in Texas 
and the perpetrators escape with the greatest impunity. 
Many Murders were committed in the Island of Galveston and 
in the Country during my stay on the Coast, and I could never 
learn that one offender was brought to justice. It is considered 
unsafe to walk through the Streets of the principal Towns without 
being armed. 
The Bowie Knife is the weapon most in vogue and it may not 
be uninteresting here to state that the greater number of these 
weapons are manufactured in Sheffield and Birmingham and
brought over in British Ships as a profitable Speculation. I have seen one manufactured by "Bunting & Son" of Sheffield, the blade 
of which was 18 inches long and ornamented in beautiful tracery 
on the steel as "The genuine Arkansas Tooth Pick" and I have 
been offered another for sale also of English make the vender of 
which hinted that I ought to pay him a Dollar more than he demanded, 
as he could assure me it had tasted Blood. 


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