Highly desirable partly-printed DS as president, signed “Go: Washington,” one page, 13 x 16.25, July 29, 1795. Three-language ship's papers issued to "Benjamin E. Gorton, master or commander of the Sloop called Polly & Betsy…lying at present in the port of Providence, bound for Turks Islands, and laden with Ballast only." Boldly signed in the center by President Washington and countersigned by Secretary of State Edmund Randolph. The embossed white paper seal affixed to the left side remains intact. In very good condition, with staining, areas of paper loss, and old tape repairs on the back of the fragile intersecting folds.
When France declared war on England in February of 1793, the US was put in a precarious position, proclaiming neutrality but still formally allied with France under the treaty of 1778. Both sides harassed and seized American ships—especially those carrying provisions to the French colonial ports in the West Indies, where the Lively was bound. Used to establish proof of nationality and guarantee protection for ships, these documents were signed in bulk by Washington and Randolph, then forwarded to the collectors of customs at different ports for distribution. There, local officials would confirm the legitimacy of the vessels, their cargo, and their personnel.
Terms and abbreviations used in our descriptions.