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He signed this passport as (outgoing) Secretary of State (1849).
Partly Printed DS: "James Buchanan" as Polk's Secretary of State, 1 page, 10½x16½. Washington, 1849 January 25. In full: "I, the Undersigned, Secretary of State of the United States of America, hereby request all whom it may concern, to permit safely and freely to pass Nathaniel B. Starkweather, a Citizen of the United States, and in case of need to give him all lawful Aid and Protection." At the left is a description of Nathaniel B. Starkweather: "Age 46 Years/Stature 5 Feet 5½ Inches Engh/Forehead high/Eyes blue/Nose stout/Mouth large/Chin round/Hair grey/Complexion fair/Face full." Not signed by Starkweather. Until 1856 local authorities, notaries, as well as the Secretary of State were able to issue passports. But American citizens traveling abroad met difficulty if their passport was not authorized by the Department of State. As a result, passports after 1856 could only be issued by the Department of State. There are three basic types of passports: diplomatic, official and regular. Buchanan served as Secretary of State from 1845-1849. In November 1848, Buchanan's Democratic Party lost the Presidential election to Zachary Taylor, the second and last President elected as a Whig. Until adoption of the 20th Amendment to the US Constitution (1933), Presidents and their Cabinets served until March of the year after the Presidential election. Under the Constitution as amended a new administration takes office on January 20. Folds, one vertical touches the "ha", lightly nicked at right edge. Fine condition.

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Born: April 23, 1791 in Cove Gap, Pennsylvania
Died: June 1, 1868 in Lancaster, Pennsylvania

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