Document Signed. James WILKINSON.
Document Signed.

Document Signed.

This Revolutionary War general of checkered reputation resigned twice during the course of the war, then was involved in shady negotiations with the Spanish governor of Louisiana to separate the Kentucky area and turn it over to Spain; he fought against the Indians, was the officer to whom the British handed over Detroit, and became the first governor of the Louisiana Territory (1805-07); he survived two court martials, one regarding his support of Aaron Burr badly tarnishing his reputation. Item #32196

DS, 4pp (lettersheet), 7 3/4" X 12½, Woodford County, Commonwealth of Virginia, 1792 January 6. Very good. Mild age toning and bit of foxing, with some small separations at some fold lines, but overall clean and quite legible, penned on extra heavy stock. Handsomely penned indenture, chock full of repetitive formulaic boilerplate legalese, in which Wilkinson and his wife Anne sell to William Murray Jr. for "the sum of twenty pounds current money of Virginia... Two lotts of ground in the town of Frankfort...." (Murray, according to one history, "came to Kentucky soon after the State was admitted to the Union.... He is described as "a bold and eloquent man, an aggressive politician and a brilliant speaker; a man of whom his contemporaries never spoke except in terms of unqualified admiration and 'was probably the most accomplished scholar among all the eminent men of Kentucky at that day.' He was a lawyer of sufficient ability to cope successfully with such men as George Nicholas, John Breckinridge and Henry Clay....") Signed large and bold by Wilkinson at the bottom of the second page, where he also signs below his signature for wife Ann. Alongside each signature is a red wax seal. At lower right, this transaction has been signed by three witnesses: John Hughes, Richard Thomas and GABRIEL MAUPIN (Revolutionary War officer, 1720-94, a Williamsburg tavernkeeper, saddler and harness maker who served as keeper of the Public Magazine). The third and fourth leaves, in addition to the usual docketing, contain an odd variety of affidavits: First is a statement signed by Michael Rappele, alderman from the "City of Philadelphia," dated February 23, 1816, testifying that James Wilkinson appeared before him, "the Grantor in the foregoing deed... and acknowledged the same to be his act and deed...." Second is a statement from Willis A. Lee, of the "State of Kentucky General Court," dated May 11, 1816, "hereby certify[ing] that this deed and the certificates of acknowledgments thereon endorsed was produced to me... and truly admitted to record in my office...." And third and last is a lengthier endorsement filling half of the fourth leaf and signed by ROBERT WHARTON (1757-1834, the longest-serving mayor in Philadelphia history, elected fifteen times between 1798 and 1824), from "City of Philadelphia" and dated March 27, 1816, noting that Wilkinson "acknowledged the same to be his act and deed and desired to might be recorded as such...." Boldly signed by Wharton and with large circular flute-edged paper seal intact. A couple of months after Wilkinson signed this deed (January 6, 1792) he was commissioned a brigadier general under General Anthony Wayne (March 1792), whom he disliked and attempted to discredit; and a couple of months further along (June 1792) the Commonwealth of Virginia county from which this deed was written (Woodford County), along with several other counties, became the new state of Kentucky. The ever-scheming Wilkinson had been conspiring with Esteban Miro, Spanish governor of Louisiana (on whose payroll it turns out he was listed), to make sure the U.S. handed over its interest in Kentucky to Spain. An intriguing and curious document. Why Wilkinson pursued the endorsements appended to the deed 24 years after the sale is uncertain; in 1816 Wilkinson had just published an autobiography, "Memoirs of My Own Times" -- according to one source, "three confused volumes of documents which are as significant for what they omit as for what they contain" -- and was living on a plantation below New Orleans. Truly a provocative item worth further research. Accompanied by a small (4½" X 5½") 19th century engraved portrait of Wilkinson in profile within a 2¼" circle -- heavy stock and unusual in that it is glazed, with a heavy plate mark. Could it be that Wilkinson sold this land in '92 because he thought his scheme to place this territory under Spanish control might soon come to fruition?

Price: $1,250.00

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