JEFFERSON DAVIS and JUDAH P. BENJAMIN As Confederate President and Secretary of War, both signed this printed document on vellum, commissioning privateers to wage war against the US on the high seas. This copy was signed but never used.

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As Confederate President and Secretary of War, both signed this printed document on vellum, commissioning privateers to wage war against the US on the high seas. This copy was signed but never used. Printed early in the war, it includes a handwritten correction of the location of the CSA capital, with Montgomery struck out and Richmond written in.
Partly Printed DS: "Jefferson Davis" as President of the Confederate States of America and "J.P. Benjamin" as Secretary of State, 1 page, 16½x11¾. On vellum. Montgomery Richmond, 1864 January 8. In full, with blanks not filled in: "Know Ye, That by virtue of the power vested in my by law, I have commissioned, and do hereby commission, have authorized, and do hereby authoriz[e]____or vessel called the_____ [missing] particularly described in the schedule hereunto annexed,) whereof_____is Commander, to a [missing] private armed vessel in the service of the CONFEDERATE STATES, on the high seas, against the United States of America, their ships, Vessels [missing] and Effects, and those of their citizens, during the pendency of the War now existing between the said CONFEDERATE STATES and the said Un[ite]d States. This Commission to continue in force until revoked by the President of the CONFEDERATE STATES for the time being." On February 18, 1861, JEFFERSON DAVIS was inaugurated as President of the Confederacy in Montgomery, Alabama. Fort Sumter was fired upon on April 12th, beginning the Civil War. On April 17th, President Davis announced that he would accept applications for "letters of marque", a move that would permit privateering. President Lincoln retaliated by announcing a blockade of all Southern states. On May 18, 1861, the first private vessel was commissioned and soon privateers were bringing Northern prizes into Charleston and New Orleans. Within weeks, the blockade succeeded in sealing off Southern ports so the privateers had great difficulty in bringing their prizes into harbor. U.S. diplomatic pressure abroad ensured that foreign ports were closed to Confederate prizes. By the end of 1861, it was clear that Davis' privateering venture had failed. This document was among those printed at the time of Davis' April 17, 1861 announcement, commissioning private armed vessels into Confederate service. On May 21, 1861, the Confederate Provisional Congress moved the capital to Richmond, Virginia. On these documents, "Montgomery" was crossed out and "Richmond" added. Davis had overestimated the number of documents to be needed and, three years later, he still had blank ones left from 1861. JUDAH P. BENJAMIN had served as U.S. Senator from Louisiana from 1853-1861, when he withdrew. He was Attorney General of the Confederate States from February to August 1861 and Secretary of War from August 1861 to February 1862, when he resigned to accept the appointment as Secretary of State (1862-1865). The day this document was signed, January 8, 1864, was a day of celebration in Richmond. Confederate raider John Hunt Morgan had escaped from the Ohio Penitentiary and was feted by Jefferson Davis. Eight months later, Morgan was killed by Union troops while making a surprise raid in Tennessee. Fragile. Mid-vertical fold is creased, worn, torn and stained in parts, with a 3½x1-inch hole at center affecting printed text. Heavily shaded at that hole touching text. 2-inch diameter green seal has transferred to 2 places, touching headlines in 1 place and text in another. Mid-vertical fold and creases touch the "nj" in Benjamin. Worn at upper and lower edges at referenced fold. Davis' signature fine.

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