Commonwealth Of Massachusetts Passport 1814
SIGNED BY CALEB STRONG,
WHO HAD A INFLUENTIAL ROLE IN DRAFTING THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION
Early 19th-century US passports are rare to find for collectors. This masterpiece is significant to US history, and any museum would love to have it! Massachusetts has played a significant historical, cultural, and commercial role in American history and became the sixth state to ratify the US Constitution. Caleb Strong was twice the Governor of Massachusetts and a US Senator and was influential in drafting the US constitution. Sadly he left the Constitutional Congress earlier than many others, so he missed signing the constitution. Only 38 of 55 participating members finally signed the constitution. However, this document is true US history and one of my earliest US passports. Extremely hard to find and at the same time in excellent condition for its age of 200 years.
Why is Massachusetts a Commonwealth?
From 1776 to 1780, the words “State of Massachusetts Bay” appeared on top of all acts and resolutions. In 1780, the Massachusetts Constitution went into effect. Part Two of the Constitution, under the heading “Frame of Government” states: “that the people … form themselves into a free, sovereign, and independent body politic, or state by the name of The Commonwealth of Massachusetts.” Virginia (on June 29, 1776) and Pennsylvania (on September 25, 1776) adopted Constitutions which called their respective states commonwealths. Kentucky is also called a commonwealth in its full official state name (and in the Third Kentucky Constitution of 1850). Commonwealths are states, but the reverse is not valid. The term “Commonwealth” does not describe or provide for any specific political status or legal relationship when used by a state. Those that do use it are equal to those that do not. Massachusetts is a commonwealth because the term is contained in the Constitution.
In the era leading to 1780, a popular term for a whole body of people constituting a nation or state (the body politic) was the word “Commonwealth.” This term was the preferred usage of some political writers. There also may have been some anti-monarchical sentiment in using the word commonwealth. John Adams utilized this term when framing the Massachusetts Constitution.
Adams wrote: “There is, however, a peculiar sense in which the words republic, commonwealth, popular state, are used by English and French writers; who mean by them a democracy, or rather a representative democracy; a ‘government in one center, and that center the nation;’ that is to say, that center a single assembly, chosen at stated periods by the people, and invested with the whole sovereignty, the whole legislative, executive, and judicial power, to be exercised in a body, or by committees, as they shall think proper.” (Adams, John, and Charles Francis Adams. The Works of John Adams, Second President of the United States: with a Life of Author, Notes, and Illustrations. Charles C. Little and James Brown, 1850-56, vol. 5, p. 454)
Partially adapted from the Secretary of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts
A Biography of Caleb Strong 1745-1819 Commonwealth of Massachusetts Passport
Strong was born to Caleb and Phebe Strong on January 9, 1745, in Northampton, MA. He received his college education at Harvard, graduating with the highest honors in 1764. Like many delegates to the Constitutional Convention, Strong chose to study law and was admitted to the bar in 1772. He enjoyed a prosperous country practice.
From 1774 through the Revolution, Strong was a member of Northampton’s safety committee. In 1776 he was elected to the Massachusetts General Court and held the post of county attorney for Hampshire County for 24 years. He was offered a position on the state supreme court in 1783 but declined it.
At the Constitutional Convention, Strong counted himself among the delegates who favored a strong central government. He successfully moved that the House of Representatives should originate all money bills and sat on the drafting committee. Though he preferred a system that accorded the same rank and mode of election to both houses of Congress, he voted in favor of equal representation in the Senate and proportional in the House.
Strong was called home because of illness in his family, and so missed the opportunity to sign the Constitution. However, during the Massachusetts ratifying convention, he took a leading role among the Federalists and campaigned vigorously for ratification.
Massachusetts chose Strong as one of its first U.S. senators in 1789. During the four years he served in that house, he sat on numerous committees and participated in framing the Judiciary Act. Caleb Strong wholeheartedly supported the Washington administration. In 1793 he urged the government to send a mission to England and backed the resulting Jay’s Treaty when it met heated opposition. Commonwealth of Massachusetts Passport
Caleb Strong, the Federalist candidate, defeated Elbridge Gerry to become Governor of Massachusetts in 1800. Despite the growing strength of the Democratic party in the state, Strong won reelection annually until 1807. In 1812 he regained the governorship, once again over Gerry, and retained his post until he retired in 1816.
During the War of 1812 Strong withstood pressure from the Secretary of War to order part of the Massachusetts militia into federal service. Strong opposed the war and approved the report of the Hartford Convention, a gathering of New England Federalists resentful of Jeffersonian policies.
Strong died on November 7, 1819, 2 years after the death of his wife, Sarah. He was buried in the Bridge Street Cemetery in Northampton. Four of his nine children survived him.
Another version of my article was published in the Ephemera Society Of America.
Commonwealth of Massachusetts Passport
FAQ Passport History
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1. What are the earliest known examples of passports, and how have they evolved?
The word "passport" came up only in the mid 15th Century. Before that, such documents were safe conducts, recommendations or protection letters. On a practical aspect, the earliest passport I have seen was from the mid 16th Century. Read more...
2. Are there any notable historical figures or personalities whose passports are highly sought after by collectors?
Every collector is doing well to define his collection focus, and yes, there are collectors looking for Celebrity passports and travel documents of historical figures like Winston Churchill, Brothers Grimm, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Read more...
3. How did passport designs and security features change throughout different periods in history, and what impact did these changes have on forgery prevention?
"Passports" before the 18th Century had a pure functional character. Security features were, in the best case, a watermark and a wax seal. Forgery, back then, was not an issue like it is nowadays. Only from the 1980s on, security features became a thing. A state-of-the-art passport nowadays has dozens of security features - visible and invisible. Some are known only by the security document printer itself. Read more...
4. What are some of the rarest and most valuable historical passports that have ever been sold or auctioned?
Lou Gehrig, Victor Tsoi, Marilyn Monroe, James Joyce, and Albert Einstein when it comes to the most expensive ones. Read more...
5. How do diplomatic passports differ from regular passports, and what makes them significant to collectors?
Such documents were often held by officials in high ranks, like ambassadors, consuls or special envoys. Furthermore, these travel documents are often frequently traveled. Hence, they hold a tapestry of stamps or visas. Partly from unusual places.
6. Can you provide insights into the stories behind specific historical passports that offer unique insights into past travel and migration trends?
7. What role did passports play during significant historical events, such as wartime travel restrictions or international treaties?
During war, a passport could have been a matter of life or death. Especially, when we are looking into WWII and the Holocaust. And yes, during that time, passports and similar documents were often forged to escape and save lives. Example...
8. How has the emergence of digital passports and biometric identification impacted the world of passport collecting?
Current modern passports having now often a sparkling, flashy design. This has mainly two reasons. 1. Improved security and 2. Displaying a countries' heritage, icons, and important figures or achievements. I can fully understand that those modern documents are wanted, especially by younger collectors.
9. Are there any specialized collections of passports, such as those from a specific country, era, or distinguished individuals?
Yes, the University of Western Sidney Library has e.g. a passport collection of the former prime minister Hon Edward Gough Whitlam and his wife Margaret. They are all diplomatic passports and I had the pleasure to apprise them. I hold e.g. a collection of almost all types of the German Empire passports (only 2 types are still missing). Also, my East German passport collection is quite extensive with pretty rare passport types.
10. Where can passport collectors find reliable resources and reputable sellers to expand their collection and learn more about passport history?
A good start is eBay, Delcampe, flea markets, garage or estate sales. The more significant travel documents you probably find at the classic auction houses. Sometimes I also offer documents from my archive/collection. See offers... As you are already here, you surely found a great source on the topic 😉
11. Is vintage passport collecting legal? What are the regulations and considerations collectors should know when acquiring historical passports?
First, it's important to stress that each country has its own laws when it comes to passports. Collecting old vintage passports for historical or educational reasons is safe and legal, or at least tolerated. More details on the legal aspects are here...
Does this article spark your curiosity about passport collecting and the history of passports? With this valuable information, you have a good basis to start your own passport collection.
Question? Contact me...