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Mediterranean Passport (1807)

Signed By

President Thomas Jefferson


SUFFER the ship Sarah of New York Matthew Dunnett master or commander of the burthen of three hundred forty-six 74/146 tons or thereabouts with no guns, navigated with thirteen men

TO PASS with her Company, Passengers, Goods and Merchandise without any hindrance, seizure or molestation: the said ship appearing by good testimony to belong to one or more of the Citizens of the United States; and to him or them only.

GIVEN under my Hand and the Seal of the

Number 65 sixty-five

United States of America, the 24th
day of September [?] in the year of our Lord one
thousand eighteen hundred and seven
/s/ Thomas Jefferson
By the President
/s/ James Madison
Secretary of State
State of
and New York
District of
To all Persons whom )
this may concern ) Countersigned by
/s/ David Geston, Collector

Note: This document is a passport, on parchment, for the Ship Sarah of New York, Matthew Dunnett master or commander. It is dated 1807 and bears the signatures of President Thomas Jefferson and Secretary of State James Madison, and is countersigned by David Gelston, Collector of Customs at New York. The document is a "Mediterranean passport" as distinguished from a "sea letter." This type of passport, written in English only and with an engraving cut at the top so that it could be examined and compared with a counterpart furnished to Algerine [Barbary corsair] warships, resulted from a requirement in the fourth article of the treaty of 5 September 1795 with the Dey of Algiers.

The fourth article states that:

if war vessels of Algiers encounter American merchant vessels, large or small, and this happens out of the places under rule of America, there shall be sent only a shallop1, in which, besides the two rowers, two persons shall take place; on their arrival no more than two persons shall go on board the ship, the commander of the said ship having to give permission, and after the showing of the Government passport, these persons shall perform quickly the formalities with regard to the ship, and return, after which the merchant vessel shall wend its own way.

Further, that if war vessels of the American ruler meet with war vessels or merchant vessels of Algiers, and these vessels are in possession of a passport delivered by the ruler of Algiers or the American Consul residing in Algiers, nobody shall touch anything belonging to said vessel, but it shall wend its way in peace.

Further, that the war vessels of Algiers, large or small, shall not touch Americans not possessed of American passports within a period of eighteen months after the date of the passports given by reason of the peace treaty and after the date of the peace treaty, and they shall not hinder them from going their way. Equally, if the war vessels of the American ruler meet with Algerian ships, they shall not prevent them from continuing on their journey in the same way, within a period of eighteen months, but they shall wend peacefully on their way.

Further, that our friend the American ruler shall not give a passport to any crew not being under his rule and not belonging to his own people; if an American passport is found in the hands of a crew not belonging to his own people, we shall take them as prize, for this is not covered by the stipulations of this peace treaty. This has been expressly stated in this article in order to prevent a rupture of peace; so it shall not be neglected. Salaam.2

1 A shallop is a small boat, propelled by sail or oars, that operates in shallow waters to aid
in communication between larger vessels or the shore.
2Miller, Hunter ed. Treaties and Other International Acts of the United States, Vol. 2 (Washington, DC: US Department of State, 1931): 306-307. The Turkish word “Salaam” means “salutation or peace” and is inserted at the end of each article of the Treaty. (Miller, page 306).



Published: Thu Feb 20 11:22:22 EST 2020