Lot 141

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G. Washington Boldly Signed Doc Appointing Irish Immigrant & Rev. War Vet. 1st U.S. Marshal of NJ, Handsomely Presented

A 1p manuscript document boldly signed by 1st U.S. President George Washington (1732-1799), as "Go. Washington" at lower right. Inscribed and counter-signed by then 2nd U.S. Secretary of State Edmund Randolph (1753-1813), as "By the President / Edm: Randolph" at lower left. Issued from Philadelphia on January 28, 1794. The signed document is displayed in a floating mount to the right of a high-quality photo reproduction of Washington's iconic Gilbert Stuart portrait, and is stylishly matted and trimmed with a gilt filet. The overall size of the matted piece is 29.125" x 17.125" x 1."

The document is beautifully inscribed in a secretarial hand on a single piece of vellum measuring 16.675" x 12.5," with a blank embossed paper wafer presidential seal at lower left. Expected wear consistent with age including folds, a few tiny breaks along folds, and minor discoloration. Isolated areas of loss at the upper left and upper right corners--touching only a few marginal words--have been expertly restored and discretely in-filled. Else near fine, bright and clean, with dark ink and prominent signatures.

The document reads in part:

"George Washington, President of the United States of America,

To all who shall see these presents - Greeting

Know Ye, That reposing special trust and confidence in the integrity, ability and diligence of [Tho]mas Lowry, of New Jersey, I have nominated and by and with the advice and consent of the Senate do appoint [him] Marshal of and for the New Jersey District…"

With Washington's appointment, Thomas Lowry (also Lowrey) (1737-1806) became the first United States Marshal of New Jersey, and among the original, first generation U.S. Marshals appointed to thirteen federal districts. The office of the United States Marshal was established by the Judiciary Act of September 24, 1789. The oldest law enforcement agency of the United States, the United States Marshals Service (as it is called today) performed a myriad of important duties including but not limited to upholding the U.S. Constitution and reinforcing the justice system. The first generation of U.S. Marshals, including Thomas Lowry, had already proved their law enforcement potential by their Revolutionary War military service. Historically, U.S. Marshals have been responsible for a broad range of duties, including protecting judges, witnesses, and investigators; confiscating and selling criminal assets; apprehending fugitives; as well as offering logistical support during and after rebellions, terrorist acts, and strikes.

Thomas Lowry was a personal friend of George Washington; the president had stayed with Lowry on several occasions and corresponded with him. Thomas Lowry's family had immigrated from Ireland to colonial New Jersey in the 1740s, when he was still a boy. Upon reaching adulthood, Lowry became a capable entrepreneur, owning land, mills, and other businesses in and around Flemington, New Jersey. In 1775, Lowry served as a New Jersey delegate to the First Continental Congress. During the Revolutionary War, Lowry served in the New Jersey militia, eventually attaining the rank of Colonel. Lowry's war service consisted of logistics and provisioning, not battlefield command. Lowry's military administrative acumen posed such a threat to the British that he was the target of a botched mid-December 1776 hostage-taking raid led by British commander Cornet Francis Geary, according to one genealogical source. Geary's death during that failed raid caused a British retreat which enabled George Washington to assemble Continental forces in secret and cross the Delaware River just a little over one week later, prior to the Battle of Trenton.

Thomas Lowry served as United States Marshal of New Jersey from 1789 until 1801, when he was replaced by a Thomas Jefferson appointee.

This item comes with a Certificate from John Reznikoff, a premier authenticator for both major 3rd party authentication services, PSA and JSA (James Spence Authentications), as well as numerous auction houses.


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August 17, 2022 10:30 AM EDT
Wilton, CT, US

University Archives

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