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    [Hawaii]. John Percival Autograph Letters (3) Signed, with a Jeremiah Evarts ALS regarding charges brought against the celebrated "Mad Jack" Percival. Two of Percival's letters concern charges against the controversial naval officer for misconduct while in Hawaii (the Sandwich Islands). Both are addressed to Samuel L. Southard, Secretary of the Navy, and dated February 17, 1828 (two pages of one bifolium) and April 12, 1828 (one page of a bifolium). Percival's third letter is dated January 16, 1844 (one and one-half pages of a bifolium). Evarts' lengthy letter contains the sordid details of the charges of lewdness brought against Percival. All are very clean with folds. The letter dated 1844 bears some minor tape residue to the left edge.

    From Boston on February 17, 1828, Percival complains about the charges brought against him to Naval Secretary Southard: "I am led to believe that the continuing open any longer the commissions for taking testimony at New York & Philadelphia may have an injurious tendency towards me personally. . . . [Mr. Evarts] has frequently stated that his object is to prosecute me as long as he can find the means of prosecution. . . . He has stimulated sailors whose conduct was controlled by me after the wreck of the London (in order to prevent embezzlement) to bring actions against me. . . . Of this vindictive course perhaps I have no right to complain to the [Naval] Department." Later, in the letter dated April 12, 1828, also from Boston, Percival requests from Secretary Southard "A duly certified copy of the communication made after the 9th of June 1827 by Mr. J. Evarts 'as to what Dr. Blatchly himself can testify.'" He also calls for a "list of the witnesses to be called on the part of the Missionaries & Edwards at the Court of Enquiry." Percival's third letter, dated January 16 1844, aboard the USS Constitution, concerns later naval matters.

    Jeremiah Evarts' ten-page letter to Naval Secretary Southard dated March 27, 1828, from Washington, D.C., contains interesting content on the charges against Percival. "I proceed to charge Lieut. Percival with the following misdemeanors . . . directly & intentionally promoting the riot at Honolulu . . . gross profraneness & blasphemy . . . living habits of lewdness . . . cohabiting with a young native female as his concubine . . . in a subsequent period of his stay, he took another native female, a child eleven years old, for the gratification of his infamous desires." Evarts' list continues.

    John "Mad Jack" Percival (1779-1862) was a controversial naval officer known for his exploits during the War of 1812 and actions against West Indian pirates. In 1826, he commanded the USS Dolphin as it sailed deep into the uncharted Pacific Ocean, returning via Hawaii, thus becoming the first American naval visit to the island. Jeremiah Evarts was a Christian missionary and activist for indigenous peoples. From the Donald P. Dow Collection.


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    April, 2015
    9th Thursday
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