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    Sloop Betsey: Ship's Paper for an Historically Important American Vessel. Fine partly-printed DS, 2pp. folio, 16.25" x 13.75", Newburyport, August 25, [N.Y., likely 1790] a roster recording the signatures of three crew members of the sloop "Betsey" - her master, John Rutherford; her mate, Charles W. Brown; and one seaman - and listing their rank and pay rate for a voyage from Newburyport to Philadelphia and back again. On the verso of this is a printed "true copy" an "An Act For The Government & Regulation of Seamen in the Merchant's Service," passed by Congress of January 4 and approved by President George Washington, on July 20, 1790, in part: "...every master or commander of any ship or vessel bound from a pot first in the United States to any foreign port, or of any ship of vessel of the burthen of fifty tons or upwards... shall, before he proceed on such voyage, make an agreement in writing, or in print with every seaman or mariner on board such ship or vessel... declaring the voyage or voyages, term or terms of time, for which such seamen or mariners shall be shipped..." In 1794, the sloop "Betsey" would find itself at the center of an important Supreme Court battle. A French privateer, the Citizen Genet, under the command of Captain Pierre Arcade Johannene, captured the Betsey and sent her into Baltimore as a prize. On her arrival, however, her owners, a conglomerate of Americans and Swedes, sued, arguing that the disposition of a neutral vessel sent into an American harbor should not be decided by the prize court of the French ambassador. The Chief Justice, John Jay (1745 - 1829), agreed, and the unanimous opinion of the court held that no foreign power could have any kind of legal jurisdiction within the United States, except for that specifically granted by treaty. In this way "Glass v. The Betsey" became an important milestone in establishing the international rights of the United States as a sovereign nation. The document bears folds with some splitting, with some ink erosion caused by ink splatters, else very good. Incidentally, the captain of the Betsey, John Rutherford, fought in the Revolutionary War and was captured at Fort Washington in 1776. After being exchanged, he served on a series of privateers and rose to the rank of captain. During this time, he was captured again and held at Antigua for eleven months.

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    Auction Dates
    May, 2017
    13th Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 1
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