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Lot 344

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George Washington Signed Society of Cincinnati Document Nominating Harvard Alum & Veteran of Battles of Lexington & Concord, Bunker Hill, Trenton, Princeton & Saratoga--MONUMENTAL Display!

An important document signed by George Washington (1732-1799) in his role as President General of the Society of Cincinnati as "Go. Washington" at lower right. Signed at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on May 5, 1784. Countersigned by Henry Knox (1750-1806), founder and Secretary of the Society of Cincinnati, as "H. Knox" at lower left. Partly printed and partly handwritten on vellum, with sumptuous vignettes at top and bottom depicting a triumphant eagle as well as military and allegorical figures. Expected folds and wrinkles. Scattered foxing and isolated areas of roughness. The signatures are light as almost always, but unrestored and very legible. A superb example with extremely wide margins, considering that these commissions are usually trimmed quite close. The document is flanked by two engraved portraits of Washington and Knox, with respective name plaques. Matted and archivally framed behind museum-quality UV ray filtering glass with document separators in a spectacular rosewood finished frame. Not examined out of the frame. Sight size: 21.25" x 14.5." Overall size: 48" x 24.25" x 1." Accompanied by a signed James Spence Authentication Letter of Authenticity dated June 17, 2019.

In part: "Be it known that Captain Benjamin Heywood, is a Member of the Society of the Cincinnati, instituted by the Officers of the American Army, at the Period of its Dissolution, as well to commemorate the great Event which gave Independence to North America, as for the laudable Purpose of inculcating the Duty of laying down in Peace Arms assumed for public Defence, and of uniting in Acts of brotherly Affection and Bonds of perpetual Friendship the Members constituting the same…"

Captain Benjamin Heywood (1746-1816) was the son of a prosperous farmer from Shrewsbury, in central Massachusetts. Heywood matriculated at Harvard University in 1771, and later joined the university's first military organization, the Marti-Mercurian Band. As a member of this militia, Heywood reportedly participated at the Battles of Lexington and Concord in April 1775. After graduating from Harvard in 1775, Heywood joined the 6th Massachusetts Regiment (also known as the 4th Continental Regiment) of the Continental Army, rising to the rank of Captain in 1776. Captain Heywood also served as a paymaster attached to Colonel Nixon's regiment. Heywood's regiment, stationed outside of Boston, Massachusetts, participated in the Battles of Bunker Hill, Trenton, Princeton, and Saratoga. Heywood's regiment was furloughed in mid-June 1783 and disbanded on November 3, 1783.

After the Revolutionary War, Captain Heywood settled in Worcester, Massachusetts, where, in addition to managing a farm, he also frequently arbitrated and administered civic affairs. He served as a Judge on the Court of Common Pleas between 1802-1811. Several of Heywood's agricultural daybooks can be found in the Special Collections & University Archives of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

The Society of Cincinnati was formed in May 1783 by Revolutionary War veterans who wanted to preserve their close ties at war’s end. In the “Institution”, or founding document of the Society, members vowed to “perpetuate therefore, as well the remembrance of this vast event [the Revolutionary War], as the mutual friendships which have been formed under the pressure of common danger, and, in many instances, cemented by the blood of the parties…in the most solemn manner, associate, constitute, and combine themselves into one Society of Friends…” The members modeled themselves after statesman Lucius Quintius Cincinnatus, among other Romans. Core tenets of this fraternal organization included the preservation of liberty, the state, and civic friendships.

PLEASE NOTE: Due to size considerations, this item may require third-party shipping.

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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