Antique Paintings, Maps, Documents, Photos
Inventory ID: 5237
A Ships' Passport signed by President THOMAS JEFFERSON and future President JAMES MADISON on Feb. 9, 1804
This RARE, early and impressive version of a Ships' Passport features a beautifully engraved maritime vignette of a large ship at anchor near a light house. In June 1796, a Federal law was passed which required the Secretary of State to prepare a ships passport, referred to today as a Mediterranean passport. They were all printed on vellum and this particularly large example measures 18" by 12." Every American merchant vessel sailing in this area was legally required to have a Mediterranean passport as part of its papers. The penalty for sailing without one was $200.00. This fine example was signed by our third President THOMAS JEFFERSON (1801-1809), principal author of the Declaration of Independence. It was countersigned by the then Secretary of State JAMES MADISON, later the fourth President of the United States (1809-1817), regarded as the "Father of the Constitution" and the author of the United States Bill of Rights. It was signed on February 9, 1804 with Jefferson's bold signature measuring nearly 2 1/2" long. This very scarce, original scalloped toped Ships Passport was also signed by David Gelsten, Collector of New York and was issued to the "Ship Marshall of Hudson, Joseph Jenkins, Master and Commander, mounted with no guns and having a crew of 12 men." There is a large embossed Presidential seal at the lower left, one of the best I have ever seen. This document has the typical folds and minor wrinkles common in all of these early shipping documents. This early form of ships' document is considered by many to be the most attractive and ornate of all early Presidential documents. Accompanying this document is a letter of guarantee and authenticity from a third party independent company. Custom matted and framed with early original engravings of both Jefferson and Madison.
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