Terrific early Galveston letter by one of its founders , a former officer in the Texas Navy, defending the Republic against spurious comments made by a childhood friend in Connecticut
Terrific early Galveston letter by one of its founders , a former officer in the Texas Navy, defending the Republic against spurious comments made by a childhood friend in Connecticut

Terrific early Galveston letter by one of its founders , a former officer in the Texas Navy, defending the Republic against spurious comments made by a childhood friend in Connecticut

Galveston, Texas: 1838. This 4-page folded letter measures 14.75” x 9” unfolded. It was written in Galveston on May 24th, 1838. The front panel bears a manuscript “25” rate marking indicating the U.S. cost to send a letter over 400 miles. It bears a circular red New Orleans postmark dated June 8 and has a manuscript annotation in the lower left corner that reads, “Texas / L.M.H Jr” which probably indicates that Hitchcock or a friend physically carried the letter to Galveston where it was placed in the U.S. mail. It is in nice shape with a few small separations beginning at some mailing folds and old glue stains, probably from being previously mounted for display. Transcript will be included. In his letter, Hitchcock clearly bristles in his reply to an old friend that has disparaged the Republic:. Item #009241

In his letter, Hitchcock clearly bristles in his reply to an old friend that has disparaged the Republic:

"There is not such a vast difference between our various manners & customs as you may suppose. . . . The only difference I can see is that there is more sterling honesty, and more manly feeling is exhibited here than in the North. But no insinuations Friend W. . . . I can discern by the tenor of your letter that your opinions are in common with all our northern brethren, that we are as it were outcasts from society, that crime stalks abroad midday without fear of detection or punishment, but you are much mistaken. . . . I can assure you that honesty is much the best policy, even in Texas. When I take a view of the first, a handful of men declaring their Independence from, and maintaining it, against millions, when I look on the present condition of this Country, a flourishing town building here, a church there, a Sunday School established in almost every village, and when I look forward & see in the mist of futurity, this Country . . . bidding fair to rival the U S . . . I cannot but feel the proudest satisfaction in knowing that I participated in the glorious struggle which rescued the finest portion of the Earth from the Goths & Vandals of the New World, and contemplate with feelings too great for utterance that I too am a Texas Citizen. . . . Were the same opportunity offered me in the North that I enjoy, I do not think . . . that I would accept it. My Country has been assaulted with every abusive epithet that malice or envy could pen, but each word spoken against her only binds me closer to her. You made no apology for expressing your sentiments for me . . . it is a pleasing task to put you right when you are in error."

He further informs his friend that

"You will be surprised to hear how rapidly Texas is improving & especially this place. On the morning of 6th Oct last there was but one house left standing [from the devastating hurricane of October 1, 1837], now there are more than forty houses. Our large hotel is open and another, much larger than any Bridgeport can boast . . . will be finished in a month. Several large warehouses are built [and] two are now in progress. . . . Everything is prosperous. . . . My situation is an important one and sometimes very arduous. I frequently sign my name . . . 400 times a day to public documents. Our revenue is rapidly increasing. This office now employs 8 clerks and 9 Customs House Officers."

A native of Connecticut, and a sea captain’s son, Hitchcock became a sailor, first as a cabin boy, the age of 14 in 1830. In 1836 joined the Texas Navy as a Lieutenant and served aboard the warship Brutus, escorting supply ships between New Orleans and Galveston, blockading the Rio Grande and Matamoros, and hunting Mexican vessels along the coast. He resigned from the Navy in 1837 and moved to what was to become the city of Galveston in 1838 where he became its first Harbormaster, a post he would hold for 30 years. He was instrumental in forming the first city government in August of 1838, and served eight terms as an alderman, four terms as treasurer, and several times as the acting mayor and council clerk. An astute business man, by 1840 he owned four lots in town and by 1850 had added a grocery store, ship’s chandlery, and the Tremont Hotel to his holdings. By 1860 his wealth was estimated at $60,000 in personal property and $60,000 in real estate. It is often reported that in 1838 Captain Hitchcock sold the merchant ship, Potomac, to the Republic for conversion into a warship, but it was more likely his father as Hitchcock Jr. had probably not accumulated enough wealth at that point in his life to have owned a ship by himself. See the "Galveston Daily News," Feb. 23, 1986 and Dienst’s 'The Navy of the Republic of Texas,' in "The Quarterly of the Texas State Historical Association." Vol. 12, No. 4 (Apr., 1909).

The date of the letter, May 24, 1838, is significant. The first official post office was opened by the postmaster Captain Peter J. Menard on the 22nd of October. This letter was mailed on its third day of operation and before the office had received a postmarking device. It is possible that this is the earliest extant mail sent after its opening. See Braake’s "Texas, the Drama of its Postal Past."

Price: $1,250.00