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Herman Melville's passport application

From the Internet archives is Herman Melville’s 1856 US passport application from a simpler time when the government trusted the individual to describe themselves. However as The New Yorker describes below, this author might have had a bit more help in expediting his application than the average US citizen at the time.

Another thing they knew, judging by documents related to the Melville application available at Footnote.com, was how to cut through the red tape and go right to the top. Melville addresses William L. Marcy, then the U.S. Secretary of State. The body of the letter is brief: “I am about to visit Europe. Will you be good enough to supply me with a passport? I sail four days hence.” It seemed to work: Melville made it to Europe.