HANSON, JOHN Document signed as President of the United States in Congress Assembled.
Philadelphia: 13 April 1782. Partly printed document accomplished in manuscript and signed in the left margin "John Hanson Presidnt" in ink, countersigned by Charles Thomson as Secretary, and with the paper covered Seal of the Admiralty affixed ("U.S.A. Sigil Naval"). The verso of the document with an additional partly printed form accomplished in manuscript and signed by William Moore as President (Governor) of Pennsylvania, this being a certification for James Flemming also dated 13 April 1782, this document with the paper covered seal of Pennsylvania. The full sheet 13 x 16 1/4 inches (33 x 41 cm); finely framed with a portrait and plaque. Usual folds, unrestored and very well preserved overall.
John Hanson was the first President of the Continental Congress elected following the March 1781 ratification of the Articles of Confederation. Hanson served a one year term from November 1781 to November 1782. Offered here is an extremely rare war-date document empowering John Flemming, Commander of the Pennsylvania Brigantine Sally to attack in a "warlike manner" and to "subdue, seize and take all ships... belonging to the King or Crown of Great Britain."
The document opens: "The United States of America in Congress Assembled, To All to whom these Presents shall come, send Greeting. Know ye, That we have granted, and these Presents do grant license and authority to John Flemming, Mariner, Commander of the Brigantine called the Sally ... mounting ten carriage guns and navigated by twenty men, to fit out and set forth the said Brigantine in a warlike manner, and by and with the said Brigantine and the officers and crew thereof, by force of arms to attack, subdue, seize and take all ships and other vessels, goods, wares and merchandizes, belonging to the King or Crown of Great Britain or to his subjects..." The document continues, requesting of all "Kings Princes, States and Potentates, being in Friendship or Alliance with Us ... to give the said John Flemming all aid, assistance and succor in their Ports ... This commission shall continue in force during the pleasure of the United States in Congress assembled, and no longer."
The service of the Sally seems to have been quite short-lived: during the week of 28 April 1782 it is recorded that "The HM Frigate Quebec captures Captain Fleming's brig Sally," the Quebec being a 32-gun warship of the British Navy first launched in 1781 which operated in North American waters during the final year of the American Revolution (and was notably involved in the capture of the South Carolina in the Delaware River in December 1782).
The signature of John Hanson (1721-1783) during the term of his presidency are rare and infrequent at auction. We trace just one example of this form at auction, that example signed but not assigned to a ship. American naval documents from this period are also scarce due their heavy use and frequent capture. Letters or other signatures of Hanson after this period are infrequently encountered as he died in 1783.
See: Library of Congress. Naval Records of the American Revolution, 1775-1788. Washington: GPO, 1906. P. 453. For the 1782 capture of the Sally see
C Property of a Palm Beach Collector
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