by Barbara J. Wood
STEPHEN F. AUSTIN
Stephen F. Austin
Stephen F. Austin ... was the first Secretary of State for the Republic of Texas. One of the duties of that office was to issue passports - such as this one issued for Dr. John Sutherland in 1836, during Austin's brief term (courtesy, Texas Secretary of State digital files). The office also handled foreign relations and trade matters. By 1840, the Secretary of State began managing the postal service. Early Texas entrepreneurs dabbled in any and everything, including a very brisk trade in postal routes, which led to the change in oversight. Today's Secretary of State oversees elections, corporate filings, trademarks, and a host of other services.
[Thanks to Kevin Wagenfuehr for transcribing Austin's writing to Sutherland.]
COURTESY / Stephen F. Austin Statue