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Mediterranean Pass with British Stamp, 1766

American Revolution. Indenture of 1766 with British Stamp Attached
New York State Archives, NYSA_A3045-78_621
 
Document Description
A Mediterranean pass issued by the British government to a ship from Boston, 1766.
 
Transcription
BY THE COMMISSIONERS FOR EXECUTING THE OFFICE OF LORD HIGH ADMIRAL OF GREAT BRITAIN AND IRELAND ETC. AND OF ALL HIS MAJESTYS PLANTATIONS ETC.
 
Suffer the Ship Pitt Brigantine of Boston, John Parsivell Master, burthen One hundred Tons, mounted with No Guns, navigated with seven Men, Six his Majesty’s Subjects, Plantation built and bound for Gibralter and Alicant to pass with her Company Passengers Goods & Merchandize without any Let Hindrance Seizure or Molestation.  The said Ship appearing unto Us by good Testimony to belong to the Subjects of His Majesty and to no Foreigner.  Given under Our Hands and the Seal of the Office of Admiralty the ninth day of June in the year of Our Lord One Thousand Seven Hundred and sixty six.
 
Questions
If the ship came from Boston, Massachusetts, why were the men on the ship subjects of the King of England?
If you were an American colonist, would you want to carry this document on your ship? What advantages would a ship owner have as a British subject? What disadvantages?
What were the Barbary States and where were they located? Where is Gibraltar? Why might the ship be travelling there?
Why did American colonists want to trade with countries other than Great Britain? Why did English merchants want the colonies to trade only with them?
We usually use the word "suffer" to mean something unpleasant.  What does "suffer" mean in this document?
Besides ship's papers, what other papers were taxed under the Stamp Act? This document was created after the Stamp Act was repealed. Why do you think it has a stamp?
 
Historical Challenges
Research the Stamp Act. What type of stamps were used? What did some of the different stamps look like? How were the stamps different from the stamps we use today? How much did it cost to have different types of papers stamped?
 
Interdisciplinary Connections
Math: The document says that John Parsivell's ship carried a load of 100 tons. How many pounds is that?
English Language Arts: People a long time ago used capital letters, punctuation, and spelling differently than we do today. What corrections would you make to the sentences on this document?
English Language Arts: In the eighteenth century, many nations paid tribute to the Barbary States, who supported piracy, so that pirates would not attack their ships. When pirates did capture ships, they often demanded that a nation pay a ransom for the crew to be released. Thomas Jefferson thought this was a bad idea, but other people disagreed. Do you think it is a good idea to pay ransom money to kidnappers? Is it a good idea to pay terrorists not to attack you? Write a persuasive paragraph supporting your opinion.
 
Resources
 

Historical Context
The pre-Revolution eighteenth century colonial economy in America was an export economy. Early English navigation laws helped establish it. The English wanted to ensure profits from their colonial investments by restricting American manufacturing and by controlling markets for colonial agricultural crops. America, in turn, had stable and constant demand for England's manufactured goods. Early towns such as Boston served more or less as "trading posts" between American raw materials and English manufactured goods.

To reduce dependence on British trading ships, Boston established a shipbuilding industry and expanded trade to other colonies and foreign countries. The document in the photograph was a Mediterranean pass issued to a ship from Boston and signed on the back by Andrew Oliver, who was the royal secretary of the colony of Massachusetts at the time. The document attests to the fact that the ship belonged to British subjects and should therefore, as provided in treaties between Great Britain and the Barbary States, be granted safe passage on the seas and into the Mediterranean ports of the Barbary States. After the American Revolution, American ships no longer had the protection of the British treaties or Royal Navy. They frequently were attacked by Barbary pirates demanding ransom, which led to the Barbary Wars in the early nineteenth century.

Notice the British stamp embossed at the left side of the document. It is a double (rectangular) stamp, indicating that the document tax had been paid.  Similar stamps were used in the American colonies under the "Stamp Act," which was passed in 1765 but repealed in March of 1766, before this document was issued.

 
Essential Question
Why do governments seek to control access to goods and services?
 
Check for Understanding
Summarize the purpose of this document and evaluate the impact of this requirement on an individual's access to these goods.