Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Passports of Southeastern Pioneers

There was a time when you needed a passport to travel without ever going overseas. Prior to 1824 parts of North America were considered foreign lands because ownership was with foreign powers or the land was part of Indian Territory. Thus to travel into this land you needed a passport. Mostley these were issued by the Secretary of War until 1824, at which point the Bureau of Indian Affairs was established. Sometimes Governors or other officials issued passports on their own authority. Of course, there were always illegal passports available for sale too. The source in our collection, Passports of Southeastern Pioneers 1770-1823: Indian, Spanish and other land passports for Tennessee, Kentucky, Georgia, Mississippi, Virginia, North and South Carolina by Dorothy Williams Potter (Gateway Press, Inc. 1992) includes lists of passport information or mentions of passage of individuals into the territories outside the United States jurisdiction. "Official records and correspondence, both published and in manuscript form, were researched extensively." The book includes some interesting bits of information. Often the person who swore an affidavit of good character for the traveler are also included in this book. The book is divided by logical chapter headings and includes an extensive list of sources and a 46-page every-name index. It can be found in our library at R GEN 929.375 POT.

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