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Item 70 - Pennsylvania: Benjamin Franklin Catalog 504 (Jul 2017)

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Sold Price: $39,392.33 (includes buyer's premium)


Manuscript DS, signed “B. Franklin,” one page, 7.75 x 6, April 16, 1787. Pay order to Treasurer David Rittenhouse, in part: “Pay to The Honourable Arthur St. Clair Esquire or order the sum of one hundred and thirty five Pounds in full for his attendance in Congress until the fifteenth day of March last—according to the Comptroller General's Report." Beautifully signed at the conclusion by Franklin as president of the Supreme Executive Council of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and countersigned in the left margin by Comptroller General John Nicholson. Reverse of the pay order is also signed by St. Clair. In fine condition, with selective silking along several folds on the reverse.

In spite of his embarrassing retreat from Fort Ticonderoga, St. Clair, a Scottish turncoat and prominent landowner from Western Pennsylvania, remained an esteemed figure of his day. As an influential member of the Pennsylvania Council of Censors, he was elected a delegate to the Confederation Congress in November 1785, and then, on February 2, 1787, as president of the Continental Congress. The jewel of St. Clair’s tenure arrived five months later with the passage of the Northwest Ordinance on July 13th, an act that created the Northwest Territory and enacted a policy for the addition of new states to the Union. St. Clair was appointed the region’s first governor roughly one year later. At the time of this document, Franklin was only a month removed from helping draft the United States Constitution at the Philadelphia Convention. A historically pertinent record with links to both westward expansion and the birth of American government.

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