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October 22 1812: Arrangements for Passports


On October 22, 1812, in St Petersburg, John Quincy Adams writes the following diary entry
22d. I called at eleven o'clock this morning upon Count Romanzoff, and told him that young Harris was going to America, and that I proposed sending by him duplicates of my last dispatches to the American Government. I asked him if he would by the same occasion send duplicates of his dispatches to Mr. Daschkoff, and on that account give him a passport as a messenger dispatched by him. This the Count said he could not do. Mr. Harris being an American, he could not give him a passport as a Russian courier, and if he should, the English would pay no regard to it. He had already found himself engaged in a discussion with the British Ambassador on the subject of passports. He had asked the Ambassador for his visa to one. The Ambassador had answered in the most obliging manner possible as to the forms, but had been, "quant au fond, assez sec." He had offered very readily to give his indorsement, but observed at the same time that the English cruisers might pay no attention to it, as they acted under their instructions from home, governed by the English laws. But, the Count said, he would send duplicates of his dispatches to Mr. Daschkoff by Mr. Harris, and in his courier's passport would have it inserted that he was also bearer of his dispatches to the Russian Minister in America. The Count himself had, in our first conversation concerning the mediation, proposed to me to give the messenger I should send a passport as a Russian courier, and it was on that suggestion that I asked it for Mr. Harris. But the Count then did not know the difficulties started by the British Ambassador. Perhaps the insertion which he offered may answer the purpose as well as a formal passport; and I readily accepted the offer. After I came home, young Mr. Harris called upon me, and I informed him of what the Chancellor had said to me.
 

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