William Key Howard Passport Acquired
In June, 2004, thanks to a generous grant from The Sunshine Lady Foundation, The George Washington Foundation was able to purchase William Key Howard's United States passport. The passport will become part of the Foundation's permanent collection and joins a small number of artifacts in the collection known to have been in the house during the 19th century.
The green Moroccan leather-bound and gold-gilt embossed passport, issued the 5th of June, 1851, was signed by Daniel Webster, then Secretary of State under President Millard Fillmore, and includes an interesting physical description as a means of identification. Howard's passport is a unique record of his European travels in the early 1850s at the age of 21. Based on the countries visited, he may have been undertaking a "grand tour" as part of his gentleman's education. An extended period of travel in Europe was viewed as a desirable educational experience for young Americans in the 19th century. In addition to studying art and architecture, Americans were thought to benefit from exposure to the established society, mores, and manners of the old world.
William Key Howard purchased Kenmore in 1881. It was through the repair efforts of his son, William Key Howard, Jr., that Kenmore's decorative plaster ceilings, ravaged during the Civil War Battle of Fredericksburg, were saved and embellished. The Howard family continued to preserve and live at Kenmore until 1905.