DescriptionJohn Tyler Autograph Letter Signed as President. One page, penned on recto and verso, 5" x 8", n.p., April 6, 1844. The president writes to Secretary of War William Wilkins, regarding the mysterious and confidential need to discharge a soldier. Letter reads in full: "Dr Sir: Mr. [Edward Allen] Hannegan of the Senate gives the most cogent reasons for the discharge of John Smith who lately enlisted in the army of N. Orleans - for an immediate discharge. The reasons assigned are of a confidential but impressive and contending character. Do have the order issued without delay. Truly Yrs, J. Tyler."
Although we cannot fully document this, it appears the "John Smith" in question was in fact Jonathan A. Jessup, who also went by the name Rufus A. Lockwood, an attorney who had a practice in Indiana and who, on at least one occasion, argued a case in the same courtroom with attorney Edward A. Hannegan. In 1842, Lockwood, deeply in debt, put his child in a boarding school and left Indiana for Mexico, telling no one of his intentions or whereabouts. Eventually, Lockwood ended up in New Orleans where he again practiced law using the Jessup name; however, his behavior continued to grow increasingly odd.
In 1843, still deeply in debt and desperate, Lockwood enlisted in the army. This information somehow made its way back to his old friend, Hannegan, who by this time was a United States Senator. Hannegan used his political influence with President Tyler to secure an order for Lockwood's discharge, which Hannegan then forwarded to Lockwood with $100 dollars in cash. This seems to have brought Lockwood back to reason and he returned to his home in Indiana after three years of wandering. He found that during his absence his speculations in western lands, which had previously drained his accounts, had risen in value, thus eliminating his overwhelming debt. Lockwood resumed the practice of his profession in Indiana, with the help of an old friend and the confidential political maneuvering of the President of the United States. An outstanding back story to an unusual Presidential letter. Large, bold signature.
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