Joseph Pitcairn was the younger of the two children of Reverend Joseph Pitcairn and his wife, Janet (née McCormack) of Fifeshire. His elder sister, Helen was born in 1763. Joseph Pitcairn US Passport
Pitcairn went to America and became a diplomat. In 1794, George Washington nominated Pitcairn to be the American Vice-Consul in Paris. He was then appointed full Consul in Hamburg, where he remained until 1802. Pitcairn was also a merchant and carried a respectable business in Hamburg helping needy American soldiers. At the time, there were nearly one hundred American ships arriving in Hamburg every year. In 1801, Pitcairn spent approximately ten dollars per sailor on medicine, board, clothing, and when necessary, burial expenses. Joseph Pitcairn US Passport
Hamburg was a free port, meeting point, and spy capital for revolutionaries and French Royalists and it was there that he met and married Lady Pamela Fitzgerald in 1800. She was the widow of the Irish Republican, Lord Edward Fitzgerald (1763–1798), who had been suffering from septicemia while in hiding from the British Government, then shot and captured before dying of his wounds in Newgate Prison. Lady Fitzgerald had three children by him. At the time of her marriage to Pitcairn, her eldest and youngest children were left behind in England, while her middle child, Pamela (1796-1869) was with her in Hamburg. Joseph Pitcairn US Passport
A fantastic and early consular passport of THE FIRST US CONSULATE established in Germany in 1790. A significant document of American/German diplomacy and passport history!
A Fine Portrait Miniature of Pitcairn
It is likely that the Pitcairns met at Mattison’s home. The Mattison’s were wealthy bankers and Pamela’s cousin had married into their family. Joseph and Pamela had one child in 1803, a daughter, named Helen but shortly after her birth, the couple divorced. Pamela returned to England, later marrying an American of Scottish descent in Brooklyn, while Helen remained with Joseph. He returned to America with her where he used the money he had amassed in Hamburg to buy and develop land in St. Lawrence County, New York. Two small villages there named Pitcairn and East Pitcairn were named after him. He also purchased land in Edward’s Township and paid for settlers from his home county of Fifeshire to immigrate and settle there. In 1819, Pitcairn was funding families and individuals from Fife to work on his land for three years, having paid their passage and helped them to obtain homes, land, and the means for income. When the three years were up, they were given the opportunity to buy their homes and land from him. Pitcairn never forgot his roots and left a thousand dollars to his father’s parish of Carnbee in his will. Joseph Pitcairn US Passport
Hamburg-American Relations Before the Establishment of a Consulate
The first trading route between Hamburg and the New World already existed in 1625. Coincidently, the first German immigration to North America was documented in the same year. At that time, Hamburg already had one of the largest seaports in Europe and therefore played a key role in the development of European-American trade. Commerce and emigration of Germans to Northern America would remain the characteristic feature of German-American relations until the late 19th century.
First U.S. Diplomatic Representations
Hamburg was one of the first states in the world, where the United States established a diplomatic mission after the Declaration of Independence in 1776. The Consulate in Hamburg was established on June 17, 1790. On the same day, the United States also opened their diplomatic representations in Bilbao, Cowes, Marseilles, Le Havre, London, Fayal, and Surinam.
The First Consul
On July 1, 1790, the U.S. Senate passed an act “providing the means for intercourse between the United States and foreign nations.” The United States’ endeavors to intensify commercial relations with Hamburg by establishing diplomatic relations with the Free and Hanseatic city fell into the same time period. In 1790, President George Washington appointed John Parish, a naturalized Hamburg citizen of Scottish birth, to the position of “vice-consul for the port of Hamburgh.” The U.S. Consulate in Hamburg was opened on June 17, 1790, as the eleventh American Consulate worldwide.