Passports for two Davis family vessels enlarge

Passports for two Davis family vessels

Passports for two Davis family vessels, the ship Cadmus and the brig Augusta, signed by James Madison and John Adams respectively.

The characteristic scalloped-shaped cut-out along the top margin indicates that these passports specifically allowed the ship safe passage through the outlying waters of the Barbary States (current day Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and Libya).

As a way to circumvent language barriers, Barbary Coast officials were sent the matching top piece from each official passport. In cases of potential seizure, the passport carried by a vessel would be authenticated by the matching piece held by the officials.