JOHN HANCOCK - AUTOGRAPH LETTER UNSIGNED 10/31/1783 - HFSID 273139
Sale Price $3,825.00
THE GOVERNOR OF MASSACHUSETTS URGES THE PRESIDENT OF NEW HAMPSHIRE TO TAKE
THE SAME STEPS AS MASSACHUSETTS HAD TAKEN IN ORDER TO PRESERVE THE FISHING
INDUSTRY ON THE MERRIMACK RIVER
JOHN HANCOCK. Autograph Letter, unsigned, 1p, 6¾x9. Boston, 1783 October 31. To "His Excellency Meshech Weare Esqr. President of the State of New Hampshire". Begins: "Sir". In full: "In compliance with the Request of the Two Branches of the General Court I inclose you Two Acts of this Government making provision to prevent the Destruction of Fish by Mill-Dams in Merrimack River & c - As the Design'd [illegible] of this Bill will much Depend upon the measures that shall be Adopted by the Legislature of your State, I am to Request that your Excellency will be pleas'd to lay those Acts before them, and cannot but flatter myself that they will Take such effectual Steps as will ensure the good Effects for which our Govt. Court had in View in passing the Bill - I am with Sentiments of [portion of word crossed out] Esteem, Sir, Your Excellency's Most Obedt & Humbl Servt." Hancock's retained copy of his letter to Weare. Docketed in unknown hand on verso. The Merrimack River, which begins in Franklin, New Hampshire, flows for 110 miles - southward to Massachusetts and then northeast to the Massachusetts-New Hampshire border -- before emptying into the Atlantic Ocean. For the Native Americans and early Colonists, the Merrimack River had long been an abundant source of fish, as well as a thoroughfare through upper Massachusetts and New Hampshire. In the late 18th century, however, industrialists used the Merrimack's natural falls to power textile mills, and they built mill dams on the river to obtain a steady water supply for the factories. The immediate effect of this early industrialization was the near complete disappearance of the fish. By the 19th century, the Merrimack also struggled with issues of pollution and disease. Despite Hancock's efforts, the fishing industry on the Merrimack was moribund by the mid 19-century, a phenomenon Henry David Thoreau commented on in "A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers" (1849). The river was in the news in 2006, when it flooded large portions of both states. MESHECH WEARE was President of New Hampshire from 1776-1785. During his tenure, Weare also served as Chief Justice of the New Hampshire Supreme Court (1776-1782), and he was a member of the New Hampshire Governor's Council (1776-1784). At the time of this letter, JOHN HANCOCK (1737-1793), was Governor of Massachusetts (1780-1785, 1787-1793). A member of the Continental Congress (1775-1778), Hancock served as President of the Congress from May 24, 1775 to October 1777, and he was the first Signer of the Declaration of Independence. Hancock's father had died when John was a child, and he was adopted by his uncle, Thomas Hancock, a rich Boston merchant. Hancock inherited his uncle's wealth in 1765, when he was 28 years old. Despite relatively little mercantile success (Thomas Hancock & Co. went out of business in 1775), John Hancock owned real estate and was a wealthy man when he died in 1793, with an estate then estimated at $350,000. Ink has spread at some words. Creased with folds. ½-inch separation at blank left margin at lower horizontal fold, ¼- and ½-inch separations at right margin at upper and lower horizontal folds. Chipped at upper edge and at left edge. Lightly soiled. Overall, fine condition for a document of its age.
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