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Lot #129
George Washington

ONE GENERAL IS ENOUGH: WASHINGTON firmly warns his aide-de-camp “to avoid the imputation of assuming powers & setting a bad example”

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ONE GENERAL IS ENOUGH: WASHINGTON firmly warns his aide-de-camp “to avoid the imputation of assuming powers & setting a bad example”

ALS signed “Go: Washington,” one page both sides, 7.25 x 9, May 3, 1778. Washington writes to his aide-de-camp, George Baylor. In full: “You will receive another letter from me, by this conveyance; & to which I refer, but cannot help again cautioning you against making new appointments, & filling up vacancies in your Regiment without first obtaining full powers for that purpose. If there are any gentlemen whom you would wish to get into your Regiment, & who would do credit to the service, it will always meet with my concurrance, but you would do well to mention the matter previously; to avoid the imputation of assuming powers & setting a bad example. Mr. Peregrine Fitzhugh (son to Colo. Wm. Fitzhugh of Maryland) I intend a Cornecy [the rank of cornet, i.e., the lowest commissioned rank of cavalry] for in yr. Regiment—& I dare say I shall readily acquiesce in any choice you may have made of others. I am with great regard....” Peregrine Fitzhugh (1759–1811) ultimately rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel and, ironically, replaced Baylor as Washington’s aide-de-camp, serving in that capacity from 1781–83. He was later a trusted confidante and correspondent of Thomas Jefferson. The letter is reproduced in full in The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources, 1745–1799, edited by John C. Fitzpatrick (U. S. Government Printing Office: 1934). At the time the letter was published, it was in the possession of Judge E. A. Armstrong of Princeton, New Jersey, a prominent collector of early Americana. The intact integral address leaf, addressed in Washington’s hand and bearing his red wax seal, is inlaid into a slightly larger sheet (expert archival restoration to the loss of a small blank portion). A few traces of very subtle soiling and offsetting from seal, and faint intersecting mailing folds touching signature, otherwise fine, bright, clean condition. The stunningly fresh appearance, the clarity of the penmanship, the significant content, and the beautiful state of preservation add up to a Washington letter of unusually high caliber! Auction LOA John Reznikoff/PSA/DNA and R&R COA.

Auction Info

  • Auction Title:
  • Dates: #321 - Ended May 16, 2007