Passport for travel from the United States to Matagorda. Partly printed document, 16 x 9 3/4 inches, with embossed Louisiana state seal, signed by Louisiana governor Edward Douglass White Sr. and by the recipient, Hamilton W. Robinson, docketed on verso “Passport of Texas”; worn at folds, minor staining. New Orleans, LA, 21 November 1836. Matagorda is the 3rd oldest town in Texas. It was established in 1827 when Stephen F. Austin obtained permission from the Mexican government to build a city to protect incoming settlers. Elias R. Wightman, who was one of Stephen F. Austin’s early surveyors, traveled to Matagorda in 1829 with 60 immigrant settlers.
Such STATE PASSPORTS are quite rare to find nowadays. They became obsolete in 1838 when the responsibility of issuing passports was transferred to the Home Bureau of the State Department. So far I have seen only a State of Massachusetts passport.
Note: This passport was issued less than a year after the birth of the Republic of Texas, but before its official recognition by the United States. Thus the passport authorizes travel “by sea to Matagorda on board the schooner Conquest” but does not mention Texas specifically. The recipient Hamilton W. Robinson was a young lawyer at the time. He was investigating a rogue bank cashier, Henry Bartow, who nearly wrecked the Commercial Bank of Albany, and then fled to Texas, where he established a slave plantation on the Brazos River. Bartow died soon afterward, and Robinson was charged with bringing his body back north. See Hill’s Reminiscences of Albany, page 20; and The Friend, 5 August 1837, page 352.