Texas State Library and Archives Commission

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


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
Abstract: 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.
Quantity: 0.4 cubic ft.
Language: These materials are written predominately in English with scattered Spanish throughout.
Repository: Texas State Archives

Agency History

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 become 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."

On December 18, 1837, the Congress of the Republic of Texas approved a Joint Resolution relative to consulates, which stated that "no consul of this republic shall be allowed to charge any fees for passports or certificates of characters or intentions."

(Sources include: the Secretary of State Republic of Texas records appraisal report (December 1998); and the enabling legislation (1836-1887).)

Scope and Contents 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. (There are two files dating 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.

The passports have been scanned, and can be viewed online (in pdf format) at http://www.tsl.state.tx.us/arc/passports.html .


Arrangement of the Records

These records are arranged by State Archives staff alphabetically by name of person issued or requesting a passport.


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.).

Technical Requirements


Index Terms

The terms listed here were used to catalog the records. The terms can be used to find similar or related records.
Personal Names:
Houston, Sam, 1793-1863.
Hunt, Memucan, 1807-1856.
Corporate Names:
Texas (Republic). Dept. of State.
Texas--Politics and government--1836-1846.
Document Types:
Passports--1836-1845, 1855, 1858.
Issuing passports.

Related Material

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
(The first Election register includes a register of passports issued, 1838-1842.)
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 Legation (U.S.) correspondence, 1835-1839, 1841, 1843-1845, undated, bulk 1836-1839, 4.75 cubic ft. (272 items)
Texas State Archives: Manuscript Collections
Andrew Jackson Houston collection, 1812-1941, undated, bulk 1835-1859, 31.41 cubic ft. [Note: An online inventory with a link to a searchable database will soon be available.]

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

(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 Information

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.

Processing Information

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.

Appraisal Information

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 records relating to passports. 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.

Other Formats for the Records

The passports have been scanned, and can be viewed online (in pdf format) at http://www.tsl.state.tx.us/arc/passports.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 http://www.tsl.state.tx.us/pubs/tslpublist.html#slrm (scroll down to Texas History); contact the State and Local Records Management Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

Detailed Description of the Records


Records relating to passports issued by the Department of State, Republic of Texas, 1836-1845, 1855, 1858, undated,
0.4 cubic ft.

2-9/16 Unidentified, 1838
Aguirre, Sebero, 1837
Aldrete, Miguel, 1841
Arciniega, Miguel, 1841
Austin, Capt. Henry, 1843
Bringas, Lt. Colonel, 1837
Cabasos, Blas Maria, 1838
Carroll, Dr. Daniel Joseph, 1843
Carter, R.W.P., 1836
Chenoweth, John, 1836
Christian, Hans Heinrich, 1855
Clauzel, Isidore, 1842
Oversize Folder
Box 22 4. Costa, Judge John B. and family, 1858
2-9/16 Crawford, John, 1838
Curby, E.S., 1836
Ehlinger, Joseph, 1838
Galan, D. Norberto, 1844
Garnett, William A., 1836
Goff, Andrew, 1836 [?]
Greenlaw, John, 1836
Gutierrez, Florentino, 1837
Hammond, C.G., 1837
Henry, Samuel W., 1843
Heyliger, Albert, 1838
Hitchcock, S.H.
[see Carter, R.W.P.]
Hoskins, J.C., 1837
Oversize Folder
Box 22 4. Houston, General Samuel, 1839
2-9/16 Hunt, Memucan, 1842
Hutchinson, Thomas J., 1837
Jaques, William B., 1837
Inibichus, Aristenta, 1839
Jackson, Thomas R.
Johnston, Charles S.P.
[see Cabasos, Blas Maria]
Joslin, James
[see Carter, R.W.P.]
Kleberg, Herman Joseph, undated
Lynn, D. Edward, 1836
McCulloch, 1845
Miller, Hugh
[see Carter, R.W.P.]
Miller, William, 1836
Mills, Judge, 1839
[see Muguarrah]
Moellhousen, H., 1840
Morgan, Emily: see West, Emily D.
Morgan, Hugh, 1836
[see Muguarrah]
Muguarrah, 1838
Neill, Andrew, 1844
Ny-ese-lain, 1840
Pages, Bartolome, 1836
Palencon, 1845
Pirson, Victor, 1842
Powers, James
Ross, WIlliam H., 1836
[see Ny-ese-lain]
Shaw, Jim, 1845
Sneed, Sebron [?]
[see Costa, Judge John B. and family]
Sovereign, Joseph
[see Carter, R.W.P.]
Spain, William, 1836
Suniga, Isabel
[see Aguirre, Sebero]
Sutherland, E.C., 1836
Sutherland, Dr. John, 1836
[This passport has a list of 287 names.]
Van Zandt, Isaac, 1841
Vaughan, Reuben, 1837
Venividas, Capt. Placido, 1837
West, Emily D., 1837
Whitworth, J., 1836
Williams, Dr. J.G.
[see Sutherland, Dr. John]
Woodlief, D.J.
[see Carter, R.W.P.]
Yates, Andrew J., 1839
Zepeda, Jose Maria Cantu de
[see Cabasos, Blas Maria]