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
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?

A passport tells the story of its bearer and these stories can be everything - surprising, sad, vivid. Isabella Bird and her travels (1831-1904) or Mary Kingsley, a fearless Lady explorer.

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 😉

Other great sources are: Scottish Passports, The Nansen passport, The secret lives of diplomatic couriers

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...