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In the 19th century, when a person was traveling to a foreign country or to an unfamiliar part of one's own country, a letter of introduction such as this would serve as a way to meet the right people for business or for social reasons. A letter of introduction from the Secretary of State of the country would be a powerful tool for a young engineer such as Arthur Wellesley Hoyt (1811-1899) of Deerfield, Massachusetts.