Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Chandler 1795 Spanish Passport - General Notes:

The passport validates the Chandler log of the 1794 – 1795 trip from Pittsburgh to New Orleans. Although there are references to such passports being issued by the Spanish in New Orleans as early as the 1760’s, and by the French prior to that, I can find no evidence of such source documents still existing. Contact with several universities and libraries in Louisiana produced only negative results for similar documents issued to American traders from Pennsylvania. (The Louisiana State University digital library contains an 1801 passport issued in New Orleans for travel to Mexico by a Louisiana military officer.) On-line searches of the Library of Congress and the University of Notre Dame Library substantiate the issuance of such documents, but offer no similar source documents. A visit to the New Orleans City Library in April 2008 allowed a search of its archives. The library archivist believes all such records from the Spanish era of Louisiana governance were returned to Spain in the early 1800s.

The passport predates the Treaty of San Lorenzo by six months. That 1795 treaty between Spain and the United States formally established the right of the new United States to travel and trade on the Mississippi River. It further defined the borders between the US and the Spanish territories of Louisiana and East and West Florida. It is not clear whether passports ceased to be issued after the signing of the treaty, or several years later after the return of Louisiana to France by the Spanish.

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