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The Passport in AmericaThe History of a Document$
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Craig Robertson

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199927579

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:osobl/9780199927579.001.0001

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Dubious Citizens

Dubious Citizens

(p.125) 8 Dubious Citizens
The Passport in America

Craig Robertson

Oxford University Press

This chapter focuses on citizenship debates in the nineteenth century as they affected the development of the United States passport as an identification document. More specifically, it examines the difficulty of documenting identity and, therefore, to ensure the reliability of the passport in verifying citizenship as a result of social and legal debates about citizenship. It first considers the Supreme Court's 1835 ruling that a passport did not provide sufficient legal proof of citizenship. It then presents examples of two kinds of noncitizens who challenged the definition of citizenship: immigrants who had declared their intention to be citizens and free African Americans who applied for passports. It also considers how the novelty of the practice of documentation created different categories of so-called dubious citizens and discusses the challenges to citizenship law from individuals and states. Finally, the chapter illustrates a different articulation of race, citizenship, and documentation by looking at the diplomatic controversy over the rights of Martin Koszta, a former Hungarian revolutionary, to the protection of the United States.

Keywords:   citizenship, United States, passport, identification, identity, noncitizens, documentation, dubious citizens, Martin Koszta, race

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