French Colonialism, Travel Order & Passport 1852

The colonial time of Germany is currently a big topic in the German press and society. The new Humboldt-Forum in the newly built Berlin palace has just opened, hosting non-European art. The museum has become embroiled in controversy over its ownership of looted art and other artifacts obtained from the German colonial empire in Africa and Asia. Germany has agreed to return to Nigeria priceless artifacts that were stolen during the colonization of Africa. French Colonialism Travel Passport

Inspired by this topic and facts, I learned much more about the German colonial time and acquired two French documents related to the French colonial time. They are unusual as they have the wording COLONIES in the document header. (Ministry for the Navy and Colonies). French Colonialism Travel Passport

Algeria was France’s first and most important colony in the 19th and 20th centuries. Conquered from 1830, the country became a kind of “colonial province.” Algeria formed the prestige object of an ambitious assimilation policy and was decisively interwoven with the political structures of the metropolis. Algeria was considered an integral part of the French state territory (at the latest from 1870); the country’s north was divided into départements according to the French model. City and regional councils and deputies for the chambers of deputies in Paris were elected.

Charles X announced the invasion of Algiers on March 10, 1830, when he opened the parliament, which he later dissolved. Thus, after a quick victory, it was hoped to succeed in the elections scheduled for July. French troops took Algiers under General Bourmont on July 5, 1830. Charles X did not achieve this goal; he lost the election. He abdicated on August 2, partly because of the July Revolution of 1830. The military machine was not to abandon the direction it had taken for more than a century. On June 14, 1830, 37,000 men on nearly 700 ships landed at Sidi Ferruch (Sidi Fredj). Algiers was conquered from the land after only ten days. French Colonialism Travel Passport

The Algerian War of Independence reached metropolitan France no later than the collapse of the Fourth Republic in 1958, which was spurred by a coup d’état that originated in Algiers. Numerous other front lines complicated the war: First, there was the bloody conflict in which the FLN asserted its claim to sole representation against rival nationalists and pro-French groups; second, between 200,000 and 400,000 Algerians fought as auxiliaries for France – a commitment (often not politically motivated) that proved fatal to many after the Algerian War. Soldiers resisted being sent to Algeria, and the FLN also found supporters in France. As the war progressed, army cadres became independent and, together with radicalized settlers, put up fierce resistance to any concessions – from street fighting to an attempted coup in 1961 and the founding of the Organisation de l’armée secrète (OAS), which overran Algeria and France with a campaign of terror in 1961/62. French President Charles De Gaulle survived several assassination attempts against him only by luck. After a cease-fire on March 19, 1962, the country became independent on July 5, 1962.

Finally, colonial violence also became a topic of public debate, an element with which the official state recognition policy had difficulty. A controversy over the systematic use of torture shook the French public between 2000 and 2002. However, despite its intensity, the “torture debate” left few lasting traces of official memory, which was related to the fact that the debate was more about the perpetrators than the victims. This changed with the increased involvement of migrant groups and anti-racism associations in the discussions. French Colonialism Travel Passport

Colonial History – France faces up to the past*
After a war against the colonial power France, Algeria became independent 59 years ago. Relations between the two countries are still tense today. French President Emmanuel Macron wants to change that – but he doesn’t like to apologize for the colonial era.

“Colonization is part of French history. It is a crime against humanity, a barbarism. We must face this past, even by apologizing (without remorse).”

*Deutschlandfunk, 22.01.2021

The Document

The document is a large single-folio issued by the Ministry for the Navy and Colonies, Algiers, on October 9, 1852. French Colonialism Travel Passport

Marine et colonies passport 1852Jean-Baptiste DOL is accompanying Mr. Legrand to Africa. The document is interesting because it was drafted in 1852, the last year of the Second Republic (1848-1852 ) before Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte (nephew of the great Napoleon) would stage a coup d’état and proclaim the French Second Empire naming himself Emperor Napoleon III (Napoleon II was Napoleon’s son thought he never technically reigned). So, the document was issued in October 1852 on a French Republic form though technically, by this time, the French Republic had been replaced by the Second Napoleonic Empire (January 14, 1852). French Colonialism Travel Passporttravel order algiers 1852

The bearer is accompanying Mr. Legrand, an engineer of the Marine, for forestry exploration. Mr. Legrand has been sent from Paris to explore the woods and forests of Algeria to provide the navy with timber for ship construction. These Second French Republic (1848-1852) documents are scarce, as this form of government only existed for four years…but to have an 1852 document on Second French Republic stationary while they are clearly in the Second Empire era is extremely rare!
On the back, we can see that they were registered in PHILIPPEVILLE (present-day Skikda, Algeria), named Philippeville, during colonization in honor of King Louis-Philippe of France (1830-1848). They also registered in the city of Bône (present-day Annaba and known in history as Hippo, as in Saint Augustine of Hippo).
French Colonialism Travel Passport
“Itinerary in the exploration of the forests of Algeria to serve in settlement of travel indemnities (costs) for the overseer carpenter: DOL Jean-Baptiste. They arrived in Algiers on October 10 at noon. Left Algiers for Koléa, the 12th arrived on the same day. Traveled 38 kilometers. Stayed in Koléa and had an excursion in the woods of Mazafran on October 13, traveled 13 kilometers. Left Koléa for Blidah on October 14, traveled 21 kilometers. Returned from Blida to Algiers on October 16, traveled 48 kilometers.” French Colonialism Travel Passport
An exciting military travel document with interesting facts from the French colonial period. From November 29 to December 8, he traveled from Ouled Béchia, covering 228 kilometers. Interesting is also the printed text on the bottom far left of the form stating ”it is expressly forbidden for officers to go to Paris without the approval of the Minister”. Many thanks to my friend Matt, who looked into the details of the French document and prepared this summary.
French Colonialism Travel Passport
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