The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 90, July 1986 - April, 1987 Page: 294
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
tionery ordered in August from New Orleans could not be purchased
for lack of funds.2 Among the items that had been ordered in August
from W. McKean, stationer, was one "seal of office and press for same." 3
The winter of 1837-1838 must have been very bitter for law-
makers forced to grapple with the need to establish an effective land-
management system within the severe constraints of the government's
penury. On December 14, 1837, Congress appropriated five hundred
dollars in promissory notes to cover the stationery needs of the General
Land Office and district land offices. That same day another reorgani-
zation of the Land Office passed over President Sam Houston's veto.
"An Act Entitled 'an act to reduce into one act, and to amend the sev-
eral acts relating to the establishment of a General Land Office"' made
the commissioner of the agency more responsible to Congress in the
matter of a seal, which, once obtained, could only be changed by law.4
Remedies for the financial woes of the public purse did not wait
upon the availability of a proper seal of office. One of the earliest laws
of the Republic had granted to Michael B. Menard a league and a labor
of land in eastern Galveston Island in return for fifty thousand dollars.
For the money-starved government the sum must have seemed gener-
ous, but for many Texans the deal was surrounded by improprieties,
especially considering the then-current high price of land in the Gal-
veston Bay area.5 Hastening to finalize the transaction, the government
issued a patent on January 25, 1838, but without the seal of the Land
Office. This very first patent issued by the Republic of Texas and its
General Land Office bore the private seal of Commissioner John P.
Borden, "there being yet no public seal provided."6
2"An act, supplementary to an act entitled 'an act to establish a general land office for the
Republic of Texas,' passed Dec. 22, 1836,"June 12, 1837, sec. i, Gammel (comp.), Laws of Texas,
I, 1,323; "Joint resolution to suspend the operation of the Land Office until the further action
of Congress," Sept. 3o, 1837, ibid., 1,345; Borden to David Hoffman, July 20, 1837, Letters
Sent, vol. 1 (GLO); Borden to A. Hotchkiss, July 20, 1837, ibid.; Borden to Darius Gregg, July
21, 1837, ibid.; Borden to Joseph Baker, Aug. 20o, 1837, ibid.; report to the Senate and House
of Representatives, Oct. 7, 1837, ibid.; report to Congress, Nov. 6, 1837, ibid.
SBill for books and stationery for the several land offices in the Republic of Texas, Aug. 24,
1837, Letters Sent, vol. 1 (GLO).
4'"Joint resolution, making appropriations for the General Land Office, and to defray the
contingent expenses of both houses of Congress," Dec. 14, 1837, sec. 1, Gammel (comp.), Laws
of Texas, I, 1,370; "An act, entitled 'an act to reduce into one act, and to amend the several acts
relating to the establishment of a general land office,'"' Dec. 14, 1837, sec. 5, ibid., 1,405.
5"An act, relinquishing one league and labor of land to Michael B. Menard and others, on
the east end of Galveston Island," Dec. 9, 1836, ibid., 1,130; William Ransom Hogan, The Texas
Republic: A Social and Economic History (Austin, 1969), 88, 91.
6Patent to Michael B. Menard, Jan. 25, 1838, First Class Volume 1, p. 1 (GLO).
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 90, July 1986 - April, 1987, periodical, 1986/1987; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117152/m1/347/: accessed May 20, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.