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    John Adams Letter of Marque Signed. One partially printed page, 14.75" x 16.5", Philadelphia, January 25, 1800, authorizing the "...private armed Ship called the Pegasus of the burthen of Two hundred and three 5/95 tons, or thereabouts, owned by John Townsend & Walter Franklin & Co James Sheeter [?] and Thomas W. Satterthwaite all of the City and State of New York Merchants....mounting Ten carriage guns, and navigated by Twenty Six men..." to sail as a commissioned privateer to "...subdue, seize and take any armed French vessel which shall be found within the jurisdictional limits of the United States, or elsewhere on the high seas..." Countersigned by Thomas Pickering as secretary of state. Original paper seal of the United States at lower left. Folds are weakened and separating in places, resulting in minor loss of paper. Toned along the folds and at the edges. Slight chipping and soiling of the left edge.

    In the first year of his administration, John Adams tasked three commissioners with securing an economic treaty with France in an effort to repair relations. The mission was a failure and President Adams ordered all merchant vessels armed (mostly through letters of marque) for possible hostility. Thomas Jefferson and the pro-French, Democratic-Republicans called for the publication of the dispatches from the commissioners in an effort to undermine Adams. The dispatches, when released, revealed an attempt by the French to extort a large loan for the American government, upwards of $12 million, an apology from President Adams for remarks made during a speech in May 1797, and a $250,000 bribe to French foreign minister Charles Maurice de Talleyrand. The Americans refused and countered with the same terms offered Great Britain in the Jay Treaty which France immediately rejected. France reacted by expelling two of the three American agents of the commission, Charles Pinckney and John Marshall, both Federalists. The release of the documents blew up in the faces of Jefferson and the Republicans, fueling the fires of anti-French feelings throughout the U. S. The breakdown in diplomatic talks led to the undeclared Quasi-War, fought almost entirely on the high seas between 1798 and 1800.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    April, 2013
    11th Thursday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 9
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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