Description

    Winfield Scott Autograph Letter Signed. Four pages, 8" x 10", "Head Qs. Eastern Division, Elizabethtown, N.J.", April 15, 1839, to "Brigadier General H[ugh]. Brady, U.S. Army" and labeled "Confidential Circular" along the top margin. In this letter, General Scott discusses payments for spying "agents" used during the 1838-1839 crises between Great Britain and the United States over the Canadian and U.S. border.

    As General Scott explains in his opening paragraph of this letter, a Congressional act on March 3, 1839, appropriated $500,000 "for the protection of the northern and north-western frontier." A "small sum" of that appropriation was set aside for "extraordinary expenses attending the operations of the Army in the defense of that frontier." Scott, who was assigned the disbursement of that "small sum", informs General Brady, commander of the Detroit military garrison, that the "sum at present allotted to you is $500, for which you will herewith receive my cheque on the Bank of America in New York. . . . This fund you will take care to employ judiciously and economically in procuring the desired information as often as you may have reason to suspect any movement within the U. States & your limits, calculated directly to disturb the peace and good neighborhood between the U. States and G. Britain, or her Provinces." Scott allowed Brady to use his own judgment in determining "the occasions & the necessity of obtaining the information in time to prevent the mischief." In closing, Scott warned Brady that "Great secrecy and care must be taken in the employment of agents; in keeping each ignorant that you have any other, and in verifying the accuracy of their several reports."

    When Winfield Scott, nicknamed "Old Fuss and Feathers", resigned from the U.S. Army in 1861, he was the longest serving general in U.S. history. The six-foot-four-inch Virginian had commanded American soldiers from the War of 1812 through the Civil War. The Canadian border crisis never became a war, but both sides raised troops in preparation. General Scott, sent by President Van Buren in the fall of 1838 to handle the situation, presented a compromise which finally resolved the dispute in an 1842 treaty. This letter is on toned paper, with insignificant separation beginning at some folds and minor foxing.


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    Auction Dates
    October, 2010
    14th-15th Thursday-Friday
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