Lot 15: James Monroe Signed Document
6th February 2019
Partly-printed DS, signed “Jas. Monroe,” three pages, 8.25 x 13.25, June 26, 1812. Important privateering document issued at the beginning of the War of 1812 to "Captain Enoch Conklin, commander of the private armed Schooner called the Antelope," containing "Instructions for the Private Armed Vessels of the United States." The first sheet features the printed "Act concerning Letters of Marque, Prizes and Prize Goods," and the second has instructions to privateers. In part: "The high seas, referred to in your commission, you will understand, generally, to extend to low water mark…You are to pay the strictest regard to the rights of neutral powers, and the usages of civilized nations…Towards enemy vessels and their crews, you are to proceed, in exercising the rights of war, with all the justice and humanity which characterize the nation of which you are members…The master and one or more of the principal persons belonging to captured vessels, are to be sent, as soon after the capture as may be, to the judge or judges of the proper court in the United States." Boldly signed at the conclusion by Secretary of State James Monroe, below an annotation in another hand, "By command of the President of the U. S. of America." In very good to fine condition, with intersecting folds, creasing, and a few small holes. This document dates to just eight days after the United States declared war on England following a series of diplomatic conflicts, including restrictions imposed by the British on US trade overseas and impressment of American soldiers. The naval forces of both nations would be of the utmost importance in deciding the outcome of the War of 1812, during which most conflicts were fought at sea. An exceptional document from the country’s early days of naval warfare.
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