×
Weekly Auctions of Exceptional Items
0 selections
Log In
0 selections
lots of lots
Lot 0023
Autographs
John Hancock Orders Revolutionary War Officers be Paid Back Pay “to make good the Depreciation of their Wages in full in Old Continental Currency to 31th Decembr 1779...”
JOHN HANCOCK (1737-1793). First Signer of the Declaration of Independence, President of the Second Continental Congress (1775-1777), President of the First Massachusetts Provincial Congress, First and Third Governor of Massachusetts, Merchant, Statesman, a Founding Organizer of the Boston “Son’s of Liberty,” and Patriot of the American Revolution.
September 27, 1782-Dated Revolutionary War Period, Important Content Partly-Printed Document Signed, “John Hancock” as Governor of Massachusetts, Choice Extremely Fine.

After the American Revolutionary War began in 1775, the Continental Congress began issuing paper money known as “Continental Currency,” or “Continentals.” Continental Currency was denominated in dollars from $1/6 to $80, including many odd denominations in between. During the Revolution, Congress issued $241,552,780 in Continental Currency. Continental Currency depreciated badly during the War, giving rise to the famous phrase "not worth a Continental." A primary problem was that monetary policy was not coordinated between Congress and the states, which continued to issue Bills of Credit (Paper Money). The Continental Congress and the individual thirteen States lacked the will or the means to retire the bills from circulation through taxation, or the sale of bonds.

This historic Document directly reflects the dire consequences of Continental Currency depreciation in the soldier’s pay, ordering that two Revolutionary War Noncommissioned soldiers be paid, and it reads, in part:

“the Sum of Twenty nine hundred eighty nine Pounds six shillings old Cont.(inental) Currency (to be paid in Notes) to make good the Depreciation of their wages agreeable to the annexed Certificate.”

This boldly printed beautifully engrossed special Pay Warrant is vividly Signed by John Hancock on September 27, 1782 in the Seventh Year of AMERICAN INDEPENDENCE” when Hancock was Governor of Massachusetts. The “annexed (attached) Certificate” is also included. These Two (2) Documents were originally attached by a red wax seal to the reverse side upper left corner of the Warrant. Though currently separated for proper display, remnants of the original red wax that tied the two Documents together still remain and fully match, proving they were mated. The “annexed (attached) Certificate” clearly shows the scale of massive Depreciation of the “old Continental Currency” and how Jonathan Pollard and Enoch Smith from Colonel Nixon’s Regiment were owed such an enormous sum of money, yet once again “to be paid in Notes.”

John Hancock’s classic signature is very large, dark and attractive, measuring nearly 3” long and ranks a “10 out of 10” on the scale for eye appeal being written on clean fresh appearing handsomely watermarked high quality laid period paper. The deep black typeset printed text is so vivid that it retains significant embossing within the paper, attesting to its wonderful originality. The “John Hancock” signed Warrant grades Choice Extremely Fine in condition, and is also Signed by “Henry Gardner, Esqr Treasurer, and “John Avery” Sec’ry.”

The “annexed (attached) Certificate” is completely Manuscript with clear, easily readable Handwritten text and is Extremely Fine. There is a small edge split at the red wax seal which is located at upper left, exactly mated with the cover “Warrant’s” red wax. It reads, in part:

“To his Excelly the Govr: & the Hon.ble Council --- This Certifies there is due to the Non Comm.,d (Commissioned) officers & privates of Collo (Colonel) Nixon’s Regt. borne on this Roll the sum affix’d to their Names Respectively, to make good the Depreciation of their Wages in full in old Continental Currency to the 31st Decem.r 1779 inclusive, agreeable to the Resolves of the General Court. ---

(Also Listed By:) “Names - Rank - Comp:y - Term of Time - Amt. in Currt. Money”

(Signed by:) “Samuel Austin, Stephen Gorham and Thos. Walley - Committee”

(Dated:) “Boston 24th Septem. 1782”. Docket on its blank reverse reads: “Col. Nixon’s Regt £2989..6 - Ent. Journal Page 1209 - J.T. - Rec’d Contents / Benj.n Heywood - Coll: Nixon’s Regt.

This historic “Mated Pair” of Documents are not only exceptional and lovely in quality, they are significant in their American Revolutionary War period fiscal importance. They reflect the devastating destruction of individual American’s wealth in the unrestricted issuing of Paper Money authorized by the Congress towards the payment of debt. In this instance, relief payments are authorized to be made by the government of Massachusetts by Governor John Hancock, to afford two soldiers some re-constitution od their money in the balance. It is the very first of this exceedingly rare official Document type Signed by Hancock we have offered containing such exceptional financial content. (2 Items)
Continental Currency: During the American Revolution, the colonies became independent states; freed from British monetary regulations, they issued paper money to pay for military expenses. The Continental Congress also issued paper money during the Revolution, known as Continental currency, to fund the war effort. Both state and Continental currency depreciated rapidly, becoming practically worthless by the end of the war. This depreciation was caused by the government having to over-print in order to meet the demands of war.

After the American Revolutionary War began in 1775, the Continental Congress began issuing paper money known as “Continental Currency,” or “Continentals.” Continental Currency was denominated in dollars from $1/6 to $80, including many odd denominations in between. During the Revolution, Congress issued $241,552,780 in Continental Currency.

Continental Currency depreciated badly during the war, giving rise to the famous phrase "not worth a Continental". A primary problem was that monetary policy was not coordinated between Congress and the states, which continued to issue bills of credit. "Some think that the rebel bills depreciated because people lost confidence in them or because they were not backed by tangible assets," writes financial historian Robert E. Wright. "Not so. There were simply too many of them." Congress and the states lacked the will or the means to retire the bills from circulation through taxation or the sale of bonds.

Another problem was that the British successfully waged economic warfare by counterfeiting Continentals on a large scale. Benjamin Franklin later wrote:

“The artists they employed performed so well that immense quantities of these counterfeits which issued from the British government in New York, were circulated among the inhabitants of all the states, before the fraud was detected. This operated significantly in depreciating the whole mass.”

By the end of 1778, Continentals retained from $1/5 to $1/7 of their face value. By 1780, the bills were worth $1/40 of their face value. Congress attempted to reform the currency by removing the old bills from circulation and issuing new ones, without success. By May 1781, Continentals had become so worthless that they ceased to circulate as money. Franklin noted that the depreciation of the currency had, in effect, acted as a tax to pay for the war.

For this reason, some Quakers, whose pacifism did not permit them to pay war taxes, also refused to use Continentals, and at least one Yearly Meeting formally forbade its members to use the notes. In the 1790s, after the ratification of the United States Constitution, Continentals could be exchanged for treasury bonds at 1% of face value.

After the collapse of Continental currency, Congress appointed Robert Morris to be Superintendent of Finance of the United States. Morris advocated the creation of the first financial institution chartered by the United States, the Bank of North America, in 1782. The bank was funded in part by specie loaned to the United States by France.

Robert Morris helped finance the final stages of the Revolutionary War by issuing notes in his name, backed by his own money. The Bank of North America also issued notes convertible into specie. Robert Morris also presided over the creation of the first mint operated by the U.S. government, which struck the first coins of the United States, the Nova Constellatio patterns of 1783.

The painful experience of the runaway inflation and collapse of the Continental dollar prompted the delegates to the Constitutional Convention to include the gold and silver clause into the United States Constitution so that the individual states could not issue bills of credit or "make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts."

This restriction of bills of credit was extended to the Federal government, as the power to "emit bills" from the Articles of Confederation was abolished, leaving Congress with the power "to borrow money on credit."

___________

John Nixon (March 1, 1727 – March 24, 1815) was an American Brigadier General in the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War.

He was born in Framingham, Massachusetts, on March 1, 1727, to Christopher and Mary Nixon. In 1755 he served in the Massachusetts militia during Sir William Johnson's campaign against the French during the French and Indian War.

In 1775 Nixon had moved to Sudbury, Massachusetts, and was a captain of the town's Minutemen whom he led at the Battles of Lexington and Concord. He and his men fought at Bunker Hill on June 17, 1775, his unit was one of the last to leave the field. After the battle Nixon was promoted to colonel of the 6th Massachusetts Regiment. Col. Nixon's regiment was placed into Gen. John Sullivan's brigade and took part in the New York and New Jersey campaign during 1776. In August 1776, Nixon was promoted to brigadier general, and he commanded a brigade consisting of the 3rd, 5th, 6th and 7th, and 8th Massachusetts Regiments.

He led his brigade in the Battle of Harlem Heights and later in the Saratoga Campaign, when it was reinforced by Cogswell's, Gage's and Mays's regiments of Militia. Nixon's brigade was involved in the Battle of Bemis Heights in October 1777, and took part in the final assault; during this attack a cannonball passed so close to his head that his sight and hearing were affected the rest of his life. Nixon resigned his commission September 12, 1780.

Starting Bid

$6,000.00

Buyer's Premium

  • 25%

JOHN HANCOCK on Continental Currency Depreciation

|
Estimate $7,500 - $12,500
|Sell a Similar Item
Bidder
Bid
Competing Bid
$6,000.00
Starting Bid
$6,000.00