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Lot #6
James Monroe

Significant War of 1812 instructions for engaging the enemy on the high seas

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Estimate: $1800+
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Significant War of 1812 instructions for engaging the enemy on the high seas

Partly-printed DS, signed “Jas. Monroe,” three pages, 8 x 13.5, June 26, 1812. Important privateering document issued at the beginning of the War of 1812 to a captain "of the private armed Ship called the A. of S.," containing "Instructions for the Private Armed Vessels of the United States." The first sheet features the printed "Act concerning Letters of Marque, Prizes and Prize Goods," and the second has instructions to privateers. In part: "The high seas, referred to in your commission, you will understand, generally, to extend to low water mark…You are to pay the strictest regard to the rights of neutral powers, and the usages of civilized nations…Towards enemy vessels and their crews, you are to proceed, in exercising the rights of war, with all the justice and humanity which characterize the nation of which you are members…The master and one or more of the principal persons belonging to captured vessels, are to be sent, as soon after the capture as may be, to the judge or judges of the proper court in the United States." Boldly signed at the conclusion by Secretary of State James Monroe, below an annotation in another hand, "By command of the President of the United States of America." In very good to fine condition, with two binding-related tears to the left edges, splitting to the right end of the central horizontal fold, and contemporary marginal annotations summarizing each section.

This document dates to just eight days after the United States declared war on England following a series of diplomatic conflicts, including restrictions imposed by the British on US trade overseas and impressment of American soldiers. The naval forces of both nations would be of the utmost importance in deciding the outcome of the War of 1812, during which most conflicts were fought at sea. An exceptional document from the country’s early days of naval warfare.

Auction Info

  • Auction Title: Fine Autographs and Artifacts
  • Dates: #565 - Ended September 12, 2019

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