his 1798 passport is the oldest in our collection. It was issued to wealthy Bostonian David Hinckley.

Passports for Protection

Passports for Protection 676 1024

American passport = protection. This 1798 passport is the oldest in our collection.  It was issued to wealthy Bostonian David Hinckley. The story behind this early passport is quite interesting. Americans did not need a passport to travel abroad, yet many nations required proof of U.S. citizenship to exit their country. Many Americans “passed” through a “port” like David Hinckley did as part of a merchants’ group traveling from Dover to London on business. American Minister to Great Britain, Rufus King, as an agent of the government of the United States, used the first person “I” to ensure Hinckley would be permitted to “pass without giving or suffering any molestation or hindrance.” Note the use of our current cursive “f” instead of our current “s” in the spelling!