John Hancock 1776 military appointment with the appointee's oath of allegiance
[Revolutionary War]. John Hancock Military Appointment Signed,
1776, as president of the Continental Congress appointing Jacob
H. Wendell ensign. Also included is Wendell's oath of allegiance.
The appointment is one partly-printed page, 11" x 8.75", n.p,
November 1, 1776, appointing "Jacob H. Wendell Gentleman . . .
to be Ensign of the Company Number Six of the first Battalion of
New York Forces in the Army of the United States, raised for the
Defence of American Liberty, and for repelling every hostile
Invasion thereof." Countersigned by Charles Thomson Jr.
Hancock appoints Wendell, a native of Albany, only weeks after the
British invaded southern New York. Hancock's signature is large,
bold, and very nice. The document has two small holes where folds
intersect. One hole and some minor separation along a fold were
once repaired by tape, which is no longer present, but has left a
dark stain. All text, however, is easily legible.
Also included is an oath of allegiance (one page, 7.5" x 12", n.p., n.d.), docketed on the verso, "Oath of Allegiance & Oath of Office." Toned with minor stains. Some separation along a fold (a previous tape repair has left a dark stain; text is still easily legible). Minor, small holes at fold intersections. The oath reads in full:
"I Jacob Wendell do acknoledge the United States of America to be free & Independent States and declare that the people thereof owe no Allegiance or obedience to George the third king of Great Britain And I renounce refuse and abjure any Allegiance or Obeydience to him. And I do swear (or Affirm) That I will to the utmost of my power support maintain & defend the said United States against the said king George the third . . . And will serve the United States in the Office of Which I now hold with the Fidelity According to the Best of my skill & Understanding. So help me God. [Signed] Jacob H. Wendell Ensign."
Below the oath of allegiance is an unengrossed oath of office which reads in part: "I _____ do swear (or Affirm) that I will faithfully truly and impartially execute the Office of ____ to which I am appointed and render a true Account when thereunto required of all public Moneys by me received or Expended, and of all Stores and other Effects to me entrusted which belong to the United States. . . . _____ QMaster or Assistt. Depty. Commisary."
John Hancock (1737-1793) signed this during the second year of his term as president of the Continental Congress (he served from May 1775 to October 1777). Shortly after the first shots of the Revolutionary War were fired, Jacob Wendell (1754-1826) joined the Continental Army. He was twenty-two at the time and had recently inherited an estate in Albany, New York. Certainly a man of action, he was quickly appointed an ensign, and later, he was promoted lieutenant. He left the army in 1782 as an administrative officer, settling down to a life in Albany. (The U.S. Army's rank of ensign was abolished in 1815.)
Jacob Wendell was the grandfather of the wife of author and theologian Samuel I. Prime. Included in this lot are two documents related to Samuel Prime, both regarding a burial plot at the Wood Lawn Cemetery in New York City: (1) an 1878 letter to Prime transmitting a cemetery plot deed; (2) the Wood Lawn Cemetery plot deed owned by Prime (1874).
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