Texas Secretary of State:
An Inventory of Secretary of State Records Relating to Passports Issued by the Department of State, Republic of Texas at the Texas State Archives, 1836-1845, 1855, 1858, undated
|Organization||History||Scope and Contents||Restrictions||Related Materials|
Creator: Texas. Secretary of State.
Title: Secretary of State records relating to passports issued by the Department of State, Republic of Texas
Dates: 1836-1845, 1855, 1858, undated
Abstract: Passports were issued by the government of the Republic of Texas to allow persons to freely leave and re-enter. These records consist of requests for passports, orders to issue passports, and one proclamation granting entrance into the Republic. Dates covered are 1836-1845, 1855, 1858. These passports have been digitized and are available in the Texas Digital Archive.
Quantity: 0.4 cubic ft.
Language: These materials are written predominately in English with scattered Spanish throughout.
Repository: Texas State Archives
Other Formats for the Records
The passports in this finding aid have been digitized and are part of the Texas Digital Archive. A description of these materials in their original format is available at http://www.lib.utexas.edu/taro/tslac/30180/tsl-30180.html
The originals have been microfilmed (on 35 mm microfilm). The call number for this reel is 976.404 P268. The reel is available through interlibrary loan; contact your local librarian for details. It is also available for purchase—see https://www.tsl.texas.gov/pubs/tslpublist.html (scroll down to Texas History); contact the Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.
Organization of the Records
These records are arranged alphabetically by name of person issued or requesting a passport.
The Secretary of State is a constitutional officer of the executive branch of state government, appointed by the governor and confirmed by the senate for a term concurrent with the governor’s (a two-year term at first, a four-year term since 1975). The office was first created by the Constitution of the Republic of Texas in 1836 (Article VI, Section 10), and has been continued by each succeeding Constitution.
The only duty of the Secretary of State specified by the Constitution of 1836 was to receive “returns of all elections for officers who are to be commissioned by the President” (General Provisions, Section 2). The 1st Congress approved a Joint Resolution on December 13, 1836 “defining the duties of the heads of departments of the government.” However, the duties of this cabinet (composed of the Secretaries of State, War, Navy, and Treasury, and the Attorney General) were expressed in extremely vague terms, i.e.: “to conform to and execute the instructions of the president, whether general or particular; and to give respectively and collectively, such needful aid and counsel whenever required so to do by the chief magistrate of the republic, as may be requisite to a firm, wholesome and harmonious administration of the government.” Much of our knowledge of what the Secretary of State did during the Republic period derives from the existing records themselves. Although never so stated in law, obviously a major function of the Secretary of State under the Republic of Texas was diplomatic, a function unique to Texas’ history as an independent nation.
During the next nine years of the Republic’s existence, Congressional acts added little in the way of explicit duties: to receive from the chief justices of the county courts “a description of their county boundaries, and such other information and observations relative to the same, as they may conceive conducive to the convenience of their citizens” (December 17, 1836); to furnish Texan consuls with instruction for the proper regulation of foreign trade (December 18, 1837); to contract for the printing of the laws and journals of the Republic of Texas, and to arrange for their distribution (December 18, 1837 and later dates); to contract for the translation and compilation of Republic laws into Spanish (“the Castilian language”) (December 18, 1837 and January 12, 1842); to become the depository for a Library purchased for the Republic of Texas (January 24, 1839); to create a Patent Office, as a bureau of the office of Secretary of State, and to grant patent rights “for any new and useful art, machine, instrument or composition of matter, liberal arts, sciences or literature, books, maps or charts, or any new and useful improvement of the same . . . invented or discovered” (January 28, 1839); to draw from the war department funds appropriated to run a boundary line between the Republic of Texas and the United States (November 26, 1840); to assume the duties of the Postmaster General, appointing and supervising a clerk for a bureau called the “General Post Office,” and to receive from the former Postmaster General all records of the abolished Post Office Department (January 18, 1841); to issue writs of election to fill certain vacancies in counties (December 7, 1841).
Scope and Content of the Records
Passports were issued by the government of the Republic of Texas to allow persons to freely leave and re-enter the Republic of Texas. These records consist of requests for passports, orders to issue passports, and one proclamation granting entrance into the Republic. Dates covered are 1836-1845, 1855, 1858, and undated. Two files date from the post-Republic era. Some of the records relate to the freedom of movement within the Republic of Texas, while others request access to Mexico, the United States, and a few European nations. The finding aid contains an alphabetical list of persons requesting or receiving passports. The depth of information provided on each individual varies considerably, from a simple name and date, up to destinations, purpose for the travel, relationships to other travelers, age, and physical description. Individuals with passport files include Sam Houston, Emily West, Memucan Hunt, and several Native Americans.
The present series was originally part of a file in the Office of the Secretary of State entitled “Location of the Seat of Government, Passports, Printing, Postal, and Santa Fe Affairs,” which was transferred in 1905 to the Department of Insurance, Statistics, and History (a predecessor of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission). Some time after transfer the present series was mixed with records of the Adjutant General. The documents were later restored to the Secretary of State’s records and rearranged in alphabetical order.
Restrictions and Requirements
Restrictions on Access
Materials do not circulate, but may be used in the State Archives search room. Materials will be retrieved from and returned to storage areas by staff members.
Restrictions on Use
Most records created by Texas state agencies are not copyrighted. State records also include materials received by, not created by, state agencies. Copyright remains with the creator. The researcher is responsible for complying with U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17 U.S.C.).
The following materials are offered as possible sources of further information on the agencies and subjects covered by the records. The listing is not exhaustive.
|Texas State Archives|
|[Note: The first Election register includes a register of passports issued, 1838-1842.]|
|Texas Legation (U.S.) correspondence, 1835-1839, 1841, 1843-1845, undated, bulk 1836-1839, 4.75 cubic ft. (272 items)|
|Texas Secretary of State election registers (a.k.a. appointment registers), 1837-2007, 32.15 cubic ft. (originals), 36 reels microfilm (duplicates)|
|Texas Secretary of State executive record books, 1835-1917, 15.18 cubic ft. (originals), 14 reels of microfilm (duplicates)|
|Texas State Archives: Manuscript Collections|
|Andrew Jackson Houston collection, 1812-1941, undated, bulk 1835-1859, 31.41 cubic ft. An online inventory with a searchable database is available at: https://www.tsl.texas.gov/arc/ajhouston/introhelp.html|
(Identify the item), Texas Secretary of State records relating to passports issued by the Department of State, Republic of Texas. Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.
Accession number: 1905/007
These records were transferred to the Texas Department of Insurance, Statistics, and History (a predecessor of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission) by the Texas Secretary of State on November 10, 1905.
Processed by State Archives staff, dates unknown
Finding aid encoded by Tony Black in EAD Version 2002 as part of the TARO project, June 2010
Additional information and corrections provided by Bonnie Cope and Liz Clare, August 2010
Additional corrections provided by Diana Houston, December 2010
Correction to index term by Tony Black, February 2011
Additions to related material by Tony Black, August 2013
Revisions to description and links and DACS-compliance by Tiffany Criswell, October 2017