US Passport 1796 issued by James Monroe as Ambassador to France

Passport Monroe Ambassador France

OH, HAPPY DAY – to get this treasure into my collection! US passport issued by James Monroe as ambassador to France on April 28, 1796, only twenty years after Independence. 18th Century US passports are extremely rare to find. Monroe will later become the 5th President of the United States.

France is one of the oldest U.S. allies, dating to 1778, when the French monarchy recognized the independence of the United States. French military and economic assistance during the American War of Independence (1775-81) was crucial to the American victory. Since then, relations between the two countries have remained active, despite periods that have tested this extended friendship. The French Revolution began in May 1789 and eventually overthrew the government of Louis XVI. In 1792 Thomas Jefferson stated that the U.S. should “acknowledge any Government to be rightful, which is formed by the will of a nation, substantially declared.” This has been U.S. policy ever since.

Consequently, formal diplomatic relations with France were not broken upon the constitution of new French governments after 1789 (the majority of which occurred during the nineteenth century). Each time this happened, the resident American diplomatic representative usually submitted new credentials to the appropriate authorities. Passport Monroe Ambassador France

France recognized the United States as an independent state on February 6, 1778, when France’s Secretary of His Majesty’s Council of State, Conrad Alexandre Gérard, and American Commissioners Benjamin FranklinSilas Deane, and Arthur Lee signed two treaties in Paris.

The first U.S. consular post was established in Bordeaux, France, in March 1778. Passport Monroe Ambassador France

Diplomatic relations were established on August 6, 1778, when Conrad Alexandre Gérard, presented to Congress his credentials as France’s Minister-Plenipotentiary and Consul-General. Benjamin Franklin was appointed as the first U.S. Minister Plenipotentiary to France on September 14, 1778, and was accredited by the French Government on March 23, 1779. An American diplomatic mission in Paris was first established on March 23, 1779, when Benjamin Franklin presented to the French court his letter of credence as Minister-Plenipotentiary.

On July 7, 1798, following the so-called “XYZ affair,” the U.S. Congress abolished the treaties of 1778 and a pre-existing consular convention. The French did not accept the abrogation as legally-binding until the ratification of the 1800 Treaty of Friendship and Commerce.

Monroe’s Influence on American Diplomacy

Monroe conducted numerous diplomatic missions addressing the most critical international threats facing his generation. President George Washington appointed Monroe Minister to France in 1794. Jay’s Treaty frustrated Monroe’s efforts to retain cordial relations with the French Government, and he was recalled in 1796. Hence, this must be one of the last passports issued at his post in Paris.

Monroe returned to France in 1803 on a successful mission to assist Robert Livingston with the Louisiana Purchase negotiations. Monroe also served as Minister to Britain from 1803 until 1807, a period complicated by disputes over U.S. neutrality rights. In 1805 Monroe traveled to Spain, intending to win recognition of the U.S. possession of West Florida. The United States claimed the territory as part of the Louisiana Purchase, but Monroe could not gain the consent of the Spanish Government. Passport Monroe Ambassador France

Monroe joined with Special Commissioner William Pinkney in 1806 in the effort to halt British impressment of U.S. sailors and to secure neutral trading rights. The proposed Monroe-Pinkney Treaty, however, failed to address impressments, and President Jefferson, therefore, declined to forward the treaty to the Senate.

While serving as Secretary of State in 1811, Monroe became convinced that a declaration of war against Great Britain was the best option to change aggressive British policies. Along with Madison, Monroe encouraged Congress to issue a war declaration, which came on June 17, 1812. Monroe skillfully managed the expansion of the U.S. military occupation of Florida and served as acting Secretary of War during the War of 1812.

Although there would be no clear victor, the United States emerged from the war with enhanced international prestige. As President, Monroe’s main diplomatic challenges stemmed from the recession of the Spanish Empire in the Americas and Russian Tsar Alexander’s hopes to populate the Oregon Coast. Monroe responded effectively. In 1819 he skillfully managed the total Acquisition of Florida.

Along with his influential Secretary of State John Quincy Adams, Monroe issued the Monroe Doctrine, which forewarned the imperial European powers against interfering in the affairs of the newly independent Latin American states or potential U.S. territories in the Western hemisphere. Adhering to the intellectual underpinnings of the doctrine, Monroe granted diplomatic recognition to newly-independent Latin American republics. Passport Monroe Ambassador France

US passport issued by James Monroe as ambassador to France on April 28, 1796, only twenty years after Independence. 18th Century US passports are extremely rare to find. Monroe will later become the 5th President of the United States.

James Monroe (1758-1831) was a true American Revolution hero. He was also a staunch anti-federalist. Monroe was the only person to have served as the Secretary of State and War at the same time. He easily won the election of 1816, with 84% of the electoral vote. Finally, his name is forever immortalized in America’s foundational foreign policy code: The Monroe Doctrine. 

President James Madison appointed Monroe as Secretary of State on April 2, 1811. Monroe assumed duty on April 6, 1811, and served until March 3, 1817, with a brief period from October 1, 1814, to February 28, 1815, as ad interim Secretary of State. Monroe had a prestigious military career before embarking upon a distinguished career in public service.

Monroe was born to a plantation family in Westmoreland County, Virginia. He began attending Campbell Academy when he was eleven years old and entered the College of William and Mary at sixteen. In 1775 he enlisted in the Third Virginia Infantry and then fought under George Washington’s command during the Revolutionary War. Monroe was wounded during the Battle of Trenton, and eventually reached the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. Passport Monroe Ambassador France

Following the war, he returned to the College of William & Mary to study law at the suggestion of Thomas Jefferson. Monroe’s election to the Virginia House of Delegates in 1782 began a long series of public appointments. Among many other positions, including Secretary of State, Monroe served as a member of the Congress of the Confederation from 1783 until 1786, a U.S. Senator from 1790 until 1794, Governor of Virginia from 1799 until 1802 and in 1811, and U.S. President from 1817 until 1824.


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