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    Joshua Chamberlain Autograph Letter Signed, with Accompanying Secretarial Copy of a William Seward Letter, Both Concerning the Jaffa Colonists. Secretary of State William Seward writes to Maine Governor (and Civil War hero) Joshua Chamberlain asking if aid will be sent to the 156 suffering American Christian colonists in the ancient Palestinian city of Jaffa. Chamberlain then writes a letter informing Maine Congressman (and future governor) Sidney Perham of Seward's interest in the troubled affair.

    Seward's secretarial copy is one and one-half pages, 8" x 10", dated August 31, 1867, from Washington, "Department of State", to Joshua Chamberlain, "Governor of Maine". In part: "Concerning the Jaffa Colonists. I have the honor to invite your attention to the fact that information has reached this Department showing that a new party will set out from Maine to Jaffa at the end of August. It is historically true, I believe, as a general fact that Colonies always suffer great embarrassments in the beginning and yet that, when fed by reinforcements they have finally very often succeeded. I shall be glad to have such facts as you may be able to furnish concerning this alleged effort by citizens of Maine to revive and sustain the said Colony. I especially wish that the Senators and Representatives of Maine or some of them would give this Department information of what may be expected in regard to any movements in that State, either for bringing back the Colonists of Jaffa, or for reinforcing them or sending them supplies." On lined paper with slight separation at some fold intersections. Fine.

    Joshua Chamberlain's letter is one page, 5" x 8.25", dated September 7, 1867, from Augusta, Maine, on "State of Maine Executive Department" letterhead. He writes Perham, "I enclose a copy of Mr. Sewards last letter to me concerning the 'Jaffa Colonists'. I had asked that [Admiral David] Farragut be authorized to send the sufferers home in a Government ship. Mr. Seward seems desirous to know what we are doing here, and wishes to hear from our Members of Congress." Fine condition.

    In February 1866, charismatic actor and preacher George Jones Adams met with President Johnson and Secretary of State Seward to receive the blessing of the U.S. Government for his proposed colonization of the ancient Palestinian city of Jaffa. One hundred and fifty-six colonists sailed from Jonesport, Maine, in August 1866, in what turned out to be a tragic effort. Misfortune in the form of disease, failed crops, and drought struck the group from the beginning and by the fall of 1867, they sought American aid. Mark Twain visited the colony about that time, writing about the experience in The Innocents Abroad (1869). Pronouncing the colony "a complete fiasco," Twain reported that he and his fellow travelers helped forty of the colonists escape to Egypt. According to Twain, after several appeals for aid by Adams and his colonists, only "one dollar was subscribed" to the colony (The Innocents Abroad, 398-400). In October, only two months after Seward's letter to Chamberlain, Seward's State Department supplied money for the return of all colonists, except those who chose to remain.


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    February, 2010
    11th-12th Thursday-Friday
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