US passport for the Middle East 1852
A lovely and exquisite mid 19th Century passport from the United States.
Passports issued back then where different to today’s booklets being printed. The passport here was printed on a large hard sheet, which was then folded into a small pocket-sized booklet with blank pages, to be used when applying for visas and police inspections.
Issued on October 22nd 1852 at Washington DC. As was the custom back in those days, the passport was hand singed personally by the Secretary of State. The signature at the bottom is for Charles Magill Conrad who was born in 1804 and passed away on 1878. What makes this passport unique is that he was only officially in office from October 25th! This would mean that he signed this passport un-officially as acting Secretary of State 3 days earlier…, during that time he was the Secretary of War, from 1850 to 1853, and assumed the position of acting Secretary of State only for 11 days.
The passport was issued to 68 year old Benjamin S. Walcott (1785 – 1862), rich family connections to the cotton and mill industry on the eastern coast of the US. He applied for the passport and together with his wife and male aid, John Bedair, aged 37, who seem to have been born in Cairo and at some point converted into Christianity.
Benjamin Walcott travelled extensively in Europe: France, Germany, Italy, reaching Turkey, Malta, Egypt and even Turkish Palestine, where the rare US consulate for Palestine & Syria applied cachet can be located on page 21 (endorsed by US consul to Beirut J. Horsford Smith).
A well preserved early American passport well used and well travelled to places that many dreamed to reach and only the few could actually go to.
Leather handmade covers made in London, gilt lettering with the owners own name.
Thank you for reading “Our Passports”.