Texas (Republic). Department of State:
An Inventory of Department of State Treaties between the Republic of Texas and Other Nations at the Texas State Archives, 1838-1844
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 1974). 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).
Except for its diplomatic duties, most of the functions of the Secretary of State under the Republic were apparently continued during the period of early statehood following annexation. An act of the 1st Legislature (approved May 9, 1846) "to define the duties of Secretary of State" included the following: to maintain a register of all official acts of the governor, and to provide the same to the legislature when required (this duty had also been spelled out by the first state Constitution, 1845); to keep a complete register of all officers appointed and elected in the state; to commission all such appointed and elected officers when not otherwise provided for by law; to record depositions and affirmations required by law to be made by resident aliens wanting to hold real estate in Texas; to arrange and preserve all books, maps, parchments, records, documents, deeds, conveyances, and other papers belonging to the State, that have been or may be properly deposited there, and sealed with the state seal (which copies shall be considered admissible as evidence in the state's courts of law); to attend every legislative session to receive bills which have became laws, and to bind and maintain such bills and enrolled joint resolutions in the office of the Secretary of State; to deliver a certified copy of these laws (with indices and marginal notes) to the public printer, and to edit and correct them after printing; to distribute the printed laws and journals to a list of state, local, and federal officials specified; and to furnish forms to county election officials for election returns, and to receive certified election returns from these officials for members of the legislature (this last duty included in "an act regulating elections," approved May 11, 1846).
An act of February 11, 1854 created a Board of Commissioners composed of the Secretary of State, the Comptroller, and the Attorney General, "to superintend the arranging and filing of the archives of the late Republic of Texas and of the State Legislature, and also the recording of the Journals of the said Congress and State Legislature ... to be deposited in the General Land-office of the State." An act of December 14, 1863 made the Secretary of State "the custodian of the records of the Senate and House of Representatives." And an act of March 25, 1887 provided that "the entire archives of the late Republic of Texas, ... together with the records, books, and journals of said Congress" would be "deposited in the Office of the Secretary of State," and "declared to be Archives of said office."
(Sources include: the Secretary of State Republic of Texas records appraisal report (December 1998); and the enabling legislation (1836-1887).)
Following the defeat of the Mexican Army at San Jacinto and the ratification of the Constitution of 1836, the Republic of Texas proceeded to treat for recognition by other nations and for the exchange of diplomatic representatives. This resulted in the signing of treaties between the Republic of Texas and France, Great Britain, the Netherlands, the Hanseatic League, and the United States, primarily for amity, navigation, and commerce. One treaty with Great Britain was for the supression of the African slave trade. Treaties between the Republic of Texas and other nations were created as the most formal and official records of diplomacy. These are signed copies of treaties between the Republic of Texas and other countries, dating 1838-1844.
This series was originally a file in the Office of the Secretary of State entitled "Texas Treaties," which was transferred to the Department of Insurance, Statistics, and History in 1905. It contained, in addition to the treaties themselves, correspondence and other records relating to them. A list of the documents was prepared at the time of transfer; this list is available upon request.
At the present time only eighteen copies, of eight treaties, are found in the series; the remainder were removed at some time in the past to other Secretary of State series, particularly diplomatic correspondence, where the related correspondence in the original file was also placed.
Copies of the boundary convention between the Republic of Texas and the United States, 1839, may be found in Secretary of State boundary records and Records relating to Indian affairs. Treaties with Indian Nations may be found in Records relating to Indian affairs.
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.).
(Identify the item), Texas Department of State treaties between the Republic of Texas and other nations. Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.
Accession number: 1904/001
These records were transferred to the Texas Department of Insurance, Statistics, and History (the predecessor of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission) by the Texas Secretary of State on May 25, 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
Authority name and other changes by Tony Black, February 2011.
Additions to related material by Tony Black, August 2013.
Texas State Archives staff completed an appraisal of the Texas Secretary of State holdings already in the custody of the Texas State Archives in December 1998. Fifty-seven series of these holdings were determined to be archival, including treaties between the Republic of Texas and other nations. The complete appraisal report (in two parts: Republic of Texas records, and non-Republic records) is available for consultation online at http://www.tsl.state.tx.us/arc/appraisal/sosrepublic.html and http://www.tsl.state.tx.us/arc/appraisal/sosstate.html , and also in the search room of the Texas State Archives.
Some of the treaties have been photographed. Interested researchers should consult the Prints and Photographs index in the State Archives search room.
Detailed Description of the Records