October 23, 1846

Passport for the Early Explorer of Jerusalem, the Reverend Eli Smith, Signed By James Buchanan

Document Signed
1 page
SMC 2068
The journey to Palestine for which this 1846 passport was key was not the first for the Reverend Eli Smith: he had, remarkably, already been there, in 1838, as the Arabic-speaking companion of Edward Robinson, there to explore, most famously, biblical Jerusalem. Nor was the “Wife” with whom he traveled, the first he had brought with him to the Middle East, but the third , the other two having died there.

“Enfeebled health and shortened life are the sacrifices necessary to the work of the missions,” Smith had unhappily noted; and indeed, having returned from America after a year’s furlough in 1846 – his last - he would himself die in Beirut, at the age of 56.

Here, then, Secretary of State Buchanan, who would in ten years become America’s fifteenth President, signs the passport of the Connecticut Yankee who would, also within the decade, become America’s first Arabist.
Document Signed, as Secretary of State, partially printed and accomplished in manuscript, being a Passport, for the Reverend Eli Smith and Wife (Hetty Simpkins Butler Smith) 1 page, large folio, Department of State, Washington, October 23, 1846. Signed by ELI SMITH, and on verso, stamped and docketed by the U.S. Consulates for Constantinople and Syria & Palestine – including a 3-line autograph docket, signed, in the hand of HENRY WOOD, as United States Consul for Syria and Palestine at Beirut.
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