Can anyone tell me about US passports in the mid 19th century?
A family I'm researching asked for (and presumably used) passports for travel to Europe in 1836. Let's assume they all went.
Now ship manifests are spotty during this period... so I don't have documented dates they came back after a few months. They could have remained in Europe for several years, and probably one of the children did.
Then in 1839 the two older sons applied for passports. Their lawyer in New Orleans asked for the passports to be sent care of their lawyer in New York. So the sons could have still been in Europe? There are physical descriptions on the passport papers of the boys (now about 18 and 16 1/2) which might indicate they were in the US but....
The mother had remarried in 1837 and applied for a passport under her new married name, not only on Feb 8th, 1839, but also on Sept 30th 1839 and also in 1840.... three separate occasions.
I can document that on one occasion, the two older sons came home in 1842 although it's possible they went back to Europe for a short period of time later in the 1840s.
Question: Did people need a passport every time they went abroad, for each time they went abroad, unlike today where our passports are good for a number of years? References to your answer will be appreciated.
Dana Point, CA