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An 1836 Passport for Travel from Louisiana to Matagorda, Texas

Passport for Travel from Louisiana to Matagorda, Texas. Issued in New Orleans on November 21, 1836. Printed form, approximately 16 x 9 3/4 inches. 

 

This 1836 passport is an exciting addition to the Tarlton Law Library's collection of Republic of Texas materials. As well as being a lovely example of a rare printed passport form used by states before 1838, Tarlton hopes this acquisition will also advance and support scholarly research and teaching on the relationship between the United States and the Republic of Texas.

State issued passports from the state of Louisiana are extremely rare. They became obsolete in 1838 when responsibility for issuing passports was transferred from the individual states to the State Department.

This passport was issued less than a year after the birth of the Republic of Texas on March 2, 1836, and before its official recognition by the United States in March 1837. Therefore, the passport authorizes travel "by sea to Matagorda" but does not mention Texas specifically. 

The port town of Matagorda is the third oldest town in Texas. It was established in 1827 when Stephen F. Austin obtained permission from the Mexican government to build a town for incoming settlers.

The passport was issued to Hamilton W. Robinson, a New York lawyer hot on the trail of a crooked banker he had traced to Texas. Robinson was chasing Henry Bartow, who had brought the Commercial Bank of Albany to the brink of ruin and then fled to Texas to escape justice. 

Robinson's investigation successfully traced Bartow to Texas, but Bartow had died soon after his arrival in the new republic. Robinson was charged with disinterring his body and returning it to New York. 

Tarlton's Special Collections Department is delighted to welcome any curious visitors who would like to explore our Republic of Texas materials.