Graves’ Citizenship Papers, Marblehead 1806

From the Early national period, directly following the American Revolution, until after the War of 1812, seamen were sometimes “impressed,” or kidnapped, by members of the British or French navy. Many sailors carried papers that would allow them to prove their identity. This 1803 document for a 16 year-old from Marblehead, states that he is a citizen of the U.S.


No 156 one hundred and fifty six –

I, Joseph Wilson – Collector for the District of Marble-
-head do hereby certify, that William Doliber Graves
An American Seaman, aged sixteen — years, or there- abouts, of the height of five feet six inches, and of a Dark – complexion, has this day produced to me proof, in the manner directed in the Act entitled “An Act for the Re- Life and Protection of American Seamen,” and pursuant to the Said Act, I do hereby certify, that the said William Doliber Graves — is a citizen of the United States of America.

In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my

Hand, and seal of office this Fourteenth
Day of September — in the year of our
Lord one thousand eight hundred and 

Joseph Wilson, Collector


“Graves Citizenship Papers” (March 28, 1806). National Archives, Waltham, MA.