1950 August 7

Artist Rockwell Kent Denied Passport Extension


The U.S. Passport Office, run by Passport Commissioner Ruth Shipley, advised the noted American artist Rockwell Kent that his passport could not be extended. It was clear that Kent was denied a renewal, and thus his right to travel outside the U.S., because of his left-wing beliefs and associations. See the exhibit of his artwork as a fundraiser to support his legal case on October 15, 1955.

Kent sued and eventually won his right to a passport, in Kent v. Dulles on June 16, 1958. Justice William O. Douglas wrote that “The right to travel is a part of the ‘liberty’ of which the citizen cannot be deprived without due process of law under the Fifth Amendment.”

Ruth Shipley’s rein over the Passport Office, labeled the “Queendom of Passports,” ended on April 30, 1955.

Read a biography of Kent: David Traxel, An American Saga: The Life and Times of Rockwell Kent (1980)

Watch a documentary on Rockwell Kent: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PNLMHJUpzUI

See Kent’s Illustrations: Herman Melville, Moby Dick, or, The Whale (? )

Learn more about Shipley and her legacy: Mrs. Shipley’s Ghost: The Right to Travel and Terrorist Watchlists (2013)

Read Kent’s autobiography: Rockwell Kent, It’s Me, O Lord (1955)

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