Lot 181: Revolutionary War–dated manuscript DS, signed by Philip Livingston, John Jay, and Gouverneur Morris, one page, 8 x 6, June 22, 1776. In part: "Forbes…says he never inlisted a soldier for the King in his Life. Says he will answer no questions. Asked if he knows Thomas Hickey will not answer. Says that he may perhaps tell us further if we will let him know the names of his accusers—Refuses to sign his Examination." Paper loss to edges affecting a few words, otherwise fine condition.
Between its early date, fantastic content, and important combination of founding fathers—Livingston signed the Declaration of Independence, Jay was the first chief justice, and Morris signed the Constitution—this is an absolutely remarkable document. The man in question, Gilbert Forbes, was a gunsmith implicated in a conspiracy to kidnap and murder General George Washington. The whole case centered on Thomas Hickey, a member of Washington's Life Guard who was already imprisoned for counterfeiting. Hickey bragged to a cellmate of the plot in which he, with the financial assistance of New York Mayor David Mathews and Royal Governor William Tryon, recruited and bribed others to join the British. Forbes was brought in for questioning and admitted—eventually—that he had fallen into the scheme. Forbes was one of four witnesses called to testify against Hickey, charged with mutiny and sedition, at his trial the next day on June 23. Found guilty, Thomas Hickey was sentenced to death and hanged on June 28 in New York. Washington ordered that all men not on duty be present at Hickey's execution in the hopes that Hickey's 'unhappy fate' would serve as a warning to all. None of the other conspirators were tried, and an audience of 20,000 observed as Hickey became the first person executed for treason against what would become the United States.
RR Auction's Fine Autographs and Artifacts Auction 458
Wednesday, 12th August 2015
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