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Lot #1
George Washington Signed Revolutionary War Discharge Certificate (1783)

General Washington discharges a meritorious soldier of the "Third Continental Regiment" in 1783, while awaiting confirmation of "the Ratification of the definitive Treaty of Peace"

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Estimate: $8000+
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General Washington discharges a meritorious soldier of the "Third Continental Regiment" in 1783, while awaiting confirmation of "the Ratification of the definitive Treaty of Peace"

Important Revolutionary War–dated partly-printed DS, signed “Go: Washington,” one page, 8 x 13.25, June 9, 1783. Continental Army military discharge headed “By His Excellency George Washington, Esq., General and Commander in Chief of the Forces of the United States of America.” In part: “These are to certify that the Bearer hereof Joel Doolittle a Soldier in the Third Continental Regiment, having faithfully served the United States from January 1777 to the date hereof and being inlisted for the War only, is hereby Discharged from the American Army.” Boldly signed at the conclusion in ink by General George Washington, and countersigned below by Jonathan Trumbull, Jr. Further signed by Adjutant Joseph Clark, confirming that the discharge was registered in the books of the regiment, and by Colonel Samuel Blachley Webb, confirming that Doolittle "has been honored with the Badge of Merit for Six Years faithful Service."

On the reverse is a statement noting that the certificate "shall not avail the Bearer as a Discharge, until the Ratification of the definitive Treaty of Peace," and that he is to be considered on furlough until that time. In very good to fine condition, with toning, minor paper loss, and professional archival reinforcements along the intersecting folds. Accompanied by an article outlining Doolittle's service in the war, tracing the provenance of this document back to the Doolittle family, and commenting on Washington's signing of these certificates.

This military discharge certificate for Connecticut native Joel Doolittle (1753-1813) was signed on June 9, 1783 near the end of the American Revolutionary War by Continental Army Commander-in-Chief General George Washington (1732-1799) of Virginia at his headquarters in the Jonathan Hasbrouck House at Newburgh, New York, with thousands of soldiers camped nearby along the Hudson River about 60 miles north of British-occupied New York City.

Private Doolittle was discharged from Captain Henry Ten Eyck’s 4th Company of the 3rd CT Regiment commanded by Colonel Samuel Blachley Webb after faithfully serving the United States from 1777 to 1783. At the bottom front page of the discharge certificate was a Badge of Merit, an award given by Gen. Washington to soldiers for meritorious action, ‘not only instances of unusual gallantry in battle, but also extraordinary fidelity and essential service in any way.’ This heart-shaped badge was the earliest standard US Armed Forces award.

As commander-in-chief of the Continental Army during the American Revolution, General Washington took it upon himself to organize and train his soldiers. By war's end, this highly disciplined and hands-on approach carried over into Washington insisting on signing every discharge certificate personally. According to Charles Hamilton’s, 'Collecting Autographs and Manuscripts,' Washington said: 'These soldiers have fought long and hard. I wish to sign the discharge for each man, so that he will leave the army knowing that I appreciate his work and that I have personally looked upon his name and testified to his honorable conduct.'

Auction Info

  • Auction Title: Fine Autograph and Artifacts Featuring Animation
  • Dates: #688 - Ended March 13, 2024

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