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Written on the eve of the War of 1812, during which he was blamed by some for the British burning of Washington, he writes of his so far unsuccessful efforts to use his Washington contacts to help an associate.
Autograph Letter signed: "John Armstrong", 1 page, 7¾x9¾. La Bergerie Rhinebeck (N. Y.), 1811 December 8. To a Mr. Phenin, New York. In full: "Your letter of the 2nd instant has been received. A few days before its date, I wrote to Mr. Ingraham, stating that I written to a judge, & to my friend at Washington, to whom I committed the task of sounding G, & knowing what would be the course of his conduct, were you to petition Congress, etc. etc. I hope he has received it, as I had indicated also certain persons, to whom I had written on the supposition that your petition would go on. Gregg was not of the number, but this omission shall be supplied by the mail of today. When I wrote to Mr. Ingraham, my Washington friend had not reported, nor has he yet, which can only arise from the circumstance of his not having achieved his objective. When he does, you shalt hear from me. Keep up your spirits-they are among our best resources in adversity. If they abandon us, there is an end of exertion (without which, in good or bad fortune) a man becomes a mere cypher. Believe me ever & cordially yours." John Armstrong, Jr. (1758-1843) fought with distinction in the Revolutionary War, primarily as an aide to General Horatio Gates. Armstrong is considered a principal figure in the "Newburgh Conspiracy" of 1783, called - scurrilous by George Washington - which discussed strong measures against Congress if promised military salaries were not forthcoming. Notwithstanding this challenge to civilian authority, Armstrong, along with his father, represented Pennsylvania in the Continental Congress (1787-1788) and he served New York in the US Senate (1801-1804). He was US Minister to France (1803-1810). When a new war with Britain broke out in 1812, Armstrong was commissioned a Brigadier General and charged with the defense of New York City. Later that year, President Madison dismissed William Eustis and named John Armstrong his successor as Secretary of War. Armstrong is credited with measures which improved discipline and morale in the American army, but his tendency to issue orders to subordinate commanders without regard to the chain of command angered both President Madison and many generals. (He earned a Presidential reprimand for appointing Andrew Jackson to a command.) When British forces seized and burned Washington, D.C. in 1814, Armstrong was blamed for this debacle, as he had waited until the last minute to mobilize local militia for the city's defense. He was dismissed from office and replaced by one of his chief critics, future President James Monroe. La Bergerie was Armstrong's estate, built between 18111 and 1815 for himself and his wife Alida (Livingston) Armstrong, of the wealthy and powerful Livingston family. The nature of the undertaking discussed in this letter is unknown, but Armstrong had a reputation for intrigue. Multiple mailing folds. Corners and edges worn and creased. Notch at top edge. Toned and lightly soiled. Pencil marks (unknown hand) on verso. Reside from seal on verso. Otherwise, fine condition.

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Born: November 25, 1758 in Carlisle, Pennsylvania
Died: April 1, 1843 in Red Hook, New York

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