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Lot 341

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George Washington’s Account with Boston Merchants for Cloth for the Continental Army

[GEORGE WASHINGTON.] Manuscript Document Signed, Account of George Washington with Otis & Henley, December 15, 1780; with endorsement by Otis, March 27, 1784. 1 p., 12.5ʺ x 7.5ʺ. Expected folds; some repairs to edges; very good. Also includes printed engravings of Martha Washington and Mount Vernon, from nineteenth century.

This account for George Washington with the Boston firm of Otis & Henley includes the purchase of a variety of fabrics, including broad cloth, rattinet (woolen fabric used for upholstering), dowlass (coarse linen cloth), silk, buckram, and a variety of other sewing supplies, including buttons, twist (sewing thread), and thread. The total for all purchases was £5627..7..6, which Otis & Henley agreed to exchange for specie at the rate of 75-to-1, making the balance £75..0..4 in specie. Adding nearly four years of interest brought the total to £92..12..10. The account also includes an endorsement by Otis to apply the credit for the account to the settlement of the Otis & Henley partnership.

On November 19, 1780, General Washington wrote from Passaic Falls, New Jersey, to Otis & Henley in Boston, “I beg you will immediately forward what Cloth remains upon hand to the Army with a proper quantity of Thread, Buttons, and other trimmings to make it up: It will not only be done quicker by the different Regimental Taylors, but it may be made into the different Articles of Clothing just as they are wanting. Shirts you will have made in Boston.” Unlike previous winters in which the Continental Army encamped together, it dispersed during the winter of 1780-1781 into smaller units to ease the strain on supplies. Washington established his headquarters in New Jersey in October and November, then in New Windsor, New York, from December 1780 to June 1781.

Boston March 27 1784
Col Henly
Please to apply for the above and when recd Cr the late Co of Otis & Henly
[W?] Sam A. Otis

Otis & Henly (1779-1783) was a Boston mercantile firm formed by Samuel Allyne Otis and David Henley. The firm supplied clothing and tents to American troops during the Revolutionary War.

Samuel Allyne Otis (1740-1814) was born in Massachusetts and graduated from Harvard College in 1759. He formed a mercantile partnership with David Henley and helped supply the American Continental Army. Otis represented Massachusetts in the Second Continental Congress in 1777 and 1778, served in the Massachusetts House of Representatives (1784-1787) and as its speaker (1784-1785), and represented Massachusetts in the Confederation Congress (1787-1788). From 1789 to 1814, he served as the first Secretary of the United States Senate. His older sister was Mercy Otis Warren (1728-1814), the famed propagandist of the American Revolution.

David Henley (1748-1823) was born in Charlestown, Massachusetts. In 1776, he set fire to Charlestown, which was occupied by the British. Henley served as an officer from 1775 to 1779. He was in command at Cambridge, Massachusetts, when the British troops captured at Saratoga were brought there. After he stabbed an insolent but unarmed British prisoner, Henley was the subject of a court-martial but was acquitted. In November 1778, General George Washington appointed Henley as his spymaster to compile information on British capabilities. After successfully completing the assignment, he retired from the Army. He formed a mercantile partnership with Samuel A. Otis in Boston. In 1793, President Washington appointed Henley as the Agent for the Department of War for the Southwest Territory, and he moved to Knoxville, Tennessee, where he also served as Superintendent of Indian Affairs, and quartermaster and paymaster for local troops and militia. He later obtained a position as a clerk in the War Department in Washington, D.C.

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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