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    President Jefferson Appoints David Porter Master Commandant

    Thomas Jefferson Military Appointment Signed as president, "Th: Jefferson," appointing Naval Officer David Porter, who has signed the document three times, "Master Commandant in the Navy in the Service of the United States." One partly-printed vellum page, 14" x 17", Washington, D.C., January 9, 1807. The document is countersigned by Secretary of the Navy Robert Smith and includes patriotic vignettes, as well as a blind-embossed seal in the lower margin. Porter's three signatures-"D Porter"-occur vertically: once in the center of the document and twice in the top margin. The vellum has wrinkled and slightly discolored in places; some chipping occurs along the lower edge. A small hole exists in the center of the document resulting in the loss of the "M" in "Master Commandant." The ink in Jefferson's signature, along with most of the handwritten text, has faded, though all text is easily discernible. The document is handsomely framed and matted to an overall size of 26" x 30".

    David Porter (1780-1843) received this appointment following his meritorious service in the First Barbary War, where he was taken prisoner in Tripoli in 1803 when Tripolitan forces captured the USS Philadelphia. After being freed, he commanded the USS Constitution for a short time while it remained in the Mediterranean Sea. Later during the War of 1812, Porter became an American naval hero, instrumental in changing British opinions of the American navy from that of derision to respect. Interestingly, one year after receiving this appointment, he adopted eight-year-old James Glasgow Farragut, the future admiral known for his significant service during the Civil War. Porter's other son, David Dixon Porter, also performed notably for the U.S. Navy during and after the Civil War.

    Provenance: A portfolio (15" x 19") used by the James Roosevelt family (son of Franklin D. Roosevelt) to store the document is included. Also included is a period identification card stating that the document was part of the Los Angeles County Museum. Additionally included is a typed note conveying the document's twentieth-century ownership according to James Roosevelt.


    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    April, 2013
    11th Thursday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 1
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