Lot 7: ALS as president, one page, 8 x 9.75, May 17, 1816. Letter to Virginia Governor William C. Nicholas. In part: "It is true as you have understood, that Mr. Hassler is ingaged [sic], under an Act of Congress, to make a survey of the Coasts & of the U.S. and that he procure for the purposes instruments of peculiar excellence. But the survey is not yet commenced, and it is not probable that it will be extended to Virginia during the ensuing summer. You will infer, of course, that neither Mr. Hassler nor the Instruments can be spared for any other service. A survey of the Potowmac [sic] for any distance above its mouth is not likely to fall within the general survey provided for. Particular surveys of York river at least as far as York Town, and of Hampton Roads, have been made under the direction of the Navy Board." In fine condition, with light scattered creases and paperclip marks and impressions to the upper left.Ferdinand Rudolph Hassler, a professor of mathematics at West Point, was hired under an act of Congress to undertake the first comprehensive survey of the coast of the United States. He traveled to Europe to obtain the necessary instruments, but the War of 1812 delayed his return. When he arrived back in the US after the conflict, James Madison formally appointed him as the first superintendent of the United States Coastal Survey. The following year he began a survey of New York Harbor, but conflicts between civilian and military officials resulted in suspension of the project. It lingered for over a decade until Andrew Jackson reinstated the survey in 1832, again placing Hassler at the head of the effort. An interesting presidential letter written as the federal government made efforts to accurately map the infant nation.
RR Auction's Fine Autographs and Artifacts Auction 460
Wednesday, 16th September 2015
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