University Archives

Lot 155

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Jefferson & Madison Signed Four-language Ship's Papers for the Essex  

1p partly-printed, measuring 22" x 17", Newburyport, Massachusetts, dated June 20, 1801. Boldly signed "Th:Jefferson" as President and countersigned, "James Madison," as Secretary of State. A four-language ship's paper, printed in French, Spanish, English, and Dutch, issued to "George Jenkins master or commander of the ship called the Essex of the burthen of two hundred thirty eight tons or thereabouts, lying at present in the port of Newburyport bound for Amsterdam and laden with Sugar, Cotton, Logwood, Coffee, otter skins, tortoise shells…" With an intact paper seal at the left. Countersigned by Dudley A Tyng, Collector of Customs.

On verso is a handwritten letter from the Consular Office of the United States in Amsterdam, dated August 19, 1801. This reads in part, "I Sylvanus Bourne Consul Genl. Of said States do hereby certify that Capt. Geo Henkins has duly made his voyage to this port in the American ship Essex & having discharged her for sale the cargo mentioned in this Letter proceeds…for some port in the Baltick [sic]…I would therefore recommend Land Ship & Concerns to rec. Respects & Protection of the Citizens & of the Armed Vessels of the several belligerent Powers which is due to the Rights & property of the Newburyport Citizens." The document has been framed so that both sides may be visible, to the overall size of 25.75" x 21". With flattened folds, small separations starting at the edges. A few spots of soiling and foxing. Very clean examples of Thomas Jefferson and James Madison signatures.

The Essex, built in 1799 in Amesbury, Massachusetts, sailed for five years as a merchant ship before being converted into a whaling ship in 1804. Possibly related to the famous Essex of Melville fame.

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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April 14, 2021 10:30 AM EDT

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