Lot 17: Partly-printed scallop-top vellum DS, signed "James Madison" as president and "Jas. Monroe" as secretary of state, one page, 11 x 14.75, March 25, 1817. Ship's pass issued for "the Brig Hindu, Michael Whitney, master or commander…mounted with two guns navigated with fifteen men, To Pass with her Company Passengers Goods and Merchandize without any hinderance seisure or molestation." Boldly signed at the conclusion by President Madison and countersigned by Secretary of State Monroe. Also endorsed on the reverse by H. A. S. Dearborn and Thomas Melvill. The white paper seal affixed to the lower left remains fully intact with creases to a few of the points. In very good condition, with intersecting folds, paper loss to left corner, and areas of light staining.
In 1816 Captain Augustine Heard, who had commanded Boston and Salem vessels for years, observed that during the Hindu's voyage from Calcutta to Boston she sailed 7 to 7.5 knots an hour within six points of the wind, and 8.9 knots off the wind, making it a remarkably fast ship. The endorsements are also notable, as Dearborn was the son of Thomas Jefferson's secretary of war and Melvill was a participant in the Boston Tea Party. What is most unusual, however, is the date of issue—by March 15, 1817, Madison had been out of office for almost two weeks, and Monroe had succeeded him as president. The pass would have been signed well in advance and left blank, then sent to Boston where it was filled out with pertinent details. An especially interesting, boldly signed example of a presidential document with multiple historical associations.
RR Auction's Fine Autographs And Artifacts Auction 471
Wednesday, 9th March 2016
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