Skip to main content
Go to accessibility notice


    Abraham Lincoln signed admiral's appointment

    Abraham Lincoln Signed Naval Commission. One partially-printed vellum page, 13.75" x 16.5", Washington, January 9, 1863. A commission for Charles Stewart, appointed "Rear Admiral in the Navy, on the Retired List, from the 16th July 1862". Stewart was the former captain of the U.S.S. Constitution and a naval hero of the War of 1812. Signed by Lincoln as President at the conclusion, and countersigned by Gideon Welles as Secretary of the Navy. Naval commissions are far scarcer than traditional military appointments, the commission offered here is especially as it is issued to a rear admiral. Additionally, the commission was signed on January 9, 1863 and is the first commission signed on that date, making Stewart the first admiral in the United States Navy (David Farragut received the rank of rear admiral later on the same day, but Stewart was technically the first, and ranking admiral, in the navy due to seniority).

    Stewart was commissioned as a full lieutenant into the United States Navy in 1798. He served in the Quasi-war with France, the Barbary War, and the War of 1812, commanding the USS Constitution, USS Constellation, and USS Chesapeake. Stewart as, captain of the Constitution, captured two British warships, HMS Cyan and HMS Levant, as well as a British merchant ship in a single engagement off the coast of South America. He received a congressional gold medal for that action. In 1859, Commodore Stewart was named senior flag officer, the highest rank in the US Navy at the time. He retained that rank even after he went on the retired list in 1861. Although he was listed as "waiting orders" on the retired list in 1862, he was promoted as the senior admiral when the navy was reorganized and the rank of rear admiral was introduced in the U. S. Navy. In 1865, Rear Admiral Stewart served as a pallbearer for President Lincoln on the train from Washington to Springfield. Steward remained an officer on the retired list until his death at the age of 91 in 1869.

    Stewart served every president from John Adams to Ulysses Grant, was the longest serving naval officer in U. S. history, was the United States Navy's first admiral, and is still holds the honor of being the oldest serving naval officer at 91 years.

    The commission is matted and framed in a gilded frame to the overall size of 20.5" x 24.5".

    Condition: Lightly toned, with minimal foxing at top edge, otherwise very good condition.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    October, 2017
    19th Thursday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 13
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 1,499

    Buyer's Premium per Lot:
    25% on the first $250,000 (minimum $19), plus 20% of any amount between $250,000 and $2,500,000, plus 12% of any amount over $2,500,000 per lot.

    Sold on Oct 19, 2017 for: Sign-in or Join (free & quick)
    Track Item

    Heritage membership

    Join Now - It's Free

    1. Past Auction Values (prices, photos, full descriptions, etc.)
    2. Bid online
    3. Free Collector newsletter
    4. Want List with instant e-mail notifications
    5. Reduced auction commissions when you resell your
    Consign now
    • Cash Advances
    • More Bidders
    • Trusted Experts
    • Over 200,000 Satisfied Consignors Since 1976
    Consign to the 2021 September 25 - 26 Including the Mahoney Collection of George Washington Inaugural Buttons. Americana & Political Signature Auction - Dallas.

    Learn about consigning with us

    We had a wonderful time in New York during the October 2013 Historical Manuscripts auction that featured my mother’s papers collected during her tenure as Martin Luther King, Jr.’s secretary. In fact, the entire experience from beginning to end has been a pleasure.
    Howard Ballou,
    Brandon, MS
    View More Testimonials receives more traffic than any other auction house website. (Source:

    Video tutorial

    Getting the most out of search