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    Chester A. Arthur Excellent Autograph Letter Signed: Letter of introduction of Cyrus W. Field to Richard Delafield.

    Signed: "C. A. Arthur/Eng in Chief/S.N.Y.", one page, 5" x 8". New York, September 18, 1861. To Col. Richard Delafield, U.S.A. On "State of New York/Quartermaster General's Department" stationery. In full: "Colonel, This will introduce to you Mr. Cyrus W. Field of this city. He desires to bring to your notice the 'Williams Ball', which from his description deserves some attention. Mr. Field is known to you I presume as one of our most prominent citizens and I commend him to your favorable consideration. I am faithfully Yours."

    In 1861, Chester A. Arthur was appointed Engineer-in-Chief of the State of New York, with the rank of Brigadier General in the New York State Militia, by Governor Edwin D. Morgan. From July 10th to December 31, 1862, he served as Quartermaster General. In 1871, Arthur was appointed Collector of the Port of New York by President Grant. In 1878, President Hayes, also a Republican, attempting to reform the Customs House, removed Arthur as Collector. Outraged New York Republicans were somewhat appeased when Arthur was nominated as Garfield's running mate in 1880. Shot on July 2, 1881, President Garfield died on September 19, 1881, and Vice President Arthur became President, 20 years and one day after he wrote this letter.

    Richard Delafield (1798-1873) was Superintendent of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point from 1838-1845 and 1856-1861. Ranking first in the West Point Class of 1818, he was commissioned in the Corps of Engineers. In 1839, Captain Delafield designed and built the first iron cast bridge in the United States in Brownsville, Pennsylvania. He later supervised construction (1846-1855) and was in charge of New York Harbor defenses (1861-1864). On May 12, 1864, President Lincoln nominated "Colonel Richard Delafield, Corps of Engineers, to be Chief Engineer, United States Army, with the rank of brigadier-general, April 22, 1864." He retired in 1864.

    Delafield's designs during the Civil War include the Delafield cannon, the Delafield Malleable Shell, and the Delafield banded iron rifles. It is probable that the "Williams Ball" mentioned by Cyrus W. Field in this letter relates to military use since balls were used as projectiles for cannons, rifles, pistols, etc.

    Cyrus W. Field (1819-1892) amassed a fortune in the paper business and was chiefly responsible for the laying of the first submarine telegraph cable between the United States and Europe (1857-1866).

    After the Civil War, Richard Delafield commented "that over the land and under the water, as armies advanced, the orders of the commanders were disseminated with lightening speed. It may be confidently asserted that electromagnetism thus introduced by Field...was a powerful auxiliary in hastening the success of our armies in overthrowing rebellion."

    Handwritten letters of Arthur are scarce because of his relatively short time on the national political scene and the fact that he died the year after he left the White House. This attractive, full page, letter is in extra fine condition. Included are two photographs of Delafield. An excellent association piece linking the names of Cyrus W. Field and Richard Delafield, this letter would be a wonderful addition to a presidential collection. From the Gary Grossman Collection.


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    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    April, 2007
    16th-17th Monday-Tuesday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 5
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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