United States Passport 1858 – Signed By Lewis Cass

United States Passport 1858

What makes this passport so special is the fantastic condition which looks almost like new. Imagine this travel document is 158 years old!

 

Lewis Cass (October 9, 1782 – June 17, 1866) was an American military officer, politician, and statesman: he was a longtime governor of the Michigan Territory (1813–1831), Secretary of War under President Andrew Jackson, and Secretary of State under President James Buchanan. During his long political career, he served as an American ambassador to France, and as a U.S. Senator representing Michigan. A Mason from his years as a young man in Ohio, Cass was a co-founder of the Grand Lodge of Michigan and its first Masonic Grand Master. United States Passport 1858

He was nationally known in the late antebellum period as a leading spokesman for the controversial Doctrine of Popular Sovereignty. It proposed allowing voters in the United States territories to determine whether to allow slavery in each jurisdiction rather than having Congress determine this. In 1848 Cass ran as a presidential candidate for the Democratic Party but lost to Zachary Taylor.

Lewis Cass was appointed Secretary of State by President James Buchanan on March 6, 1857, and assumed office the same day. He served until December 14, 1860.

Influence on American Diplomacy

President Buchanan appointed Cass Secretary of State with hopes he would unify the Democratic Party then riddled with sectional tensions.

An experienced diplomat and former Secretary of State, President Buchanan aggressively directed foreign policy. Two focal points of the Buchanan administration were Latin America and Great Britain. Internal dissension from antislavery proponents, sparked in part by the attempt to purchase Cuba from Spain, often thwarted Buchanan’s foreign policy plans. Attempts to purchase more territory from Mexico were also frustrated by an increasingly divided Congress and disinterest on the part of Mexican leaders.

Nonetheless, Cass successfully negotiated a final settlement of the Clayton-Bulwer Treaty with the British Government. The treaty limited both U.S. and British control throughout Latin America. The British also relinquished their claim to the right to search U.S. vessels under Cass’s tenure.

With the election of Abraham Lincoln and the rise of the new Republican Party, Cass began to voice his long-held disagreements with the Buchanan administration, specifically his protests related to sectional differences. Cass tendered his resignation in the last days of 1860.

His daughter, Isabella Cass, married Theodorus Marinus Roest van Limburg (1806–1887), Dutch ambassador in the USA (1856–1868) and Foreign Minister (1868–1870). His great-great-grandson Cass Ballenger was a U.S. Representative from North Carolina.

Lewis Cass issued during his time in office less than 22.000 passports (Source: DOS)

United States Passport 1858

 

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...