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Ship's papers signed in 1798 for the brig Jane, which sailed from Philadelphia to Antigua. The Jane was later captured by the corsair le Narbonnais; papers from captured ships are extremely rare.

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Ship's papers signed in 1798 for the brig Jane, which sailed from Philadelphia to Antigua. The Jane was later captured by the corsair le Narbonnais; papers from captured ships are extremely rare. These papers are especially significant: They were signed a month after the beginning of the Quasi-War between France and the United States, an undeclared war that was fought exclusively at sea and was started over the capture of merchant ships like the Jane
Four Language Ship's Papers signed: "John Adams" as President and "Timothy Pickering" as Secretary of State. Also signed on verso "Le Brig/capturé par le corsaire le narbonnais/No. 2" in unknown hand.  1 page, 19½x15½. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, August 11, 1798. Four language ships' papers (French, Spanish, English, Dutch) issued at Philadelphia. In part: "Be it known That leave and permission, are hereby given to Robert Knox master or commander of the Brig called Jane…lying at present in the port of Philadelphia bound for Antigua and laden with Sundry Merchandize [sic]…."Because ships leaving U.S. ports needed ships' papers before a voyage, the documents were signed by the President and Secretary of State ahead of time and forwarded to the port. The Collector of the Port would then fill in the required information. Unlike many ships of this era, we know some of the Jane's history. The writing on verso "Le Brig/ capturé par le corsaire le narbonnais/ No. 2" indicates that the Jane was captured by the corsair le Narbonnais. Narbonne was a seaport town on France's Mediterranean coast and was often used by Barbary pirates. The fate of the Jane is unknown after its capture. Papers are from captured ships are incredibly rare. The fact that the writing is in French is significant, given the time these papers were signed. French privateers started capturing U. S. merchant ships in 1796. They captured over 300 ships in one year and did so virtually unopposed, as the United States had only one active Navy vessel to fight the privateers. On May 28, 1798, Adams instructed all armed U.S. vessels to capture any French ships that they encountered. On July 7, he dissolved all treaties between France and the United States, which was the beginning of an undeclared war against France on the high seas called the Quasi-War. The United States captured 85 ships during the Quasi-War; French totals are disputed, but they only captured one U.S. Navy ship, the USS Retaliation, which was later re-captured. An American patriot who nevertheless had the courage to defend accused British soldiers after the "Boston massacre", JOHN ADAMS (1735-1826) was a delegate to the First and Second Continental Congresses, helping to draft and signing the Declaration of Independence. During the revolution he represented the new nation in France and Holland, helped to negotiate the peace treaty. He then served as Ambassador to Britain (1785-1788). First Vice President (1789-1797) and second President (1797-1801) of the U.S., he resisted pressure for war with France even though it may have cost him re-election. He died on July 4th, 1826, the very same day as his old rival and then longtime friend Thomas Jefferson, on the fiftieth anniversary of American independence! Lightly spotted in margins. Otherwise, fine condition. Gallery of History watermark not present on original document. TIMOTHY PICKERING (1745-1829) was Adjutant General of the Continental Army (1777-1778) and Quartermaster General (1780-1785) before serving as Washington's Postmaster General (1791-1795), Secretary of War (1795-1796) and Secretary of State (1795-1797). He remained as Secretary of State in the Cabinet of President John Adams until 1800. A Federalist representing Massachusetts in the U.S. Senate (1803-1811), Pickering was an unsuccessful candidate for reelection in 1811. On January 2, 1811, by a vote of 20-7, Pickering became the first U.S. Senator to be censured by the Senate. He was accused of violating Congressional law by reading confidential documents in open Senate session before an injunction of secrecy was removed. Pickering later served as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives (1813-1817). Lightly toned and creased. Ink has bled through paper on both sides. Edges are irregular and lightly torn. Corners are rounded. Small hole in upper right corner. Folded in half once vertically and twice horizontally. Worn, torn, toned and with pinholes along folds. Repair to folds on verso. Double sided tape present on verso. Otherwise, fine condition.

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