HARRISON, William Henry (1773-1841), President. Engraved document signed ("W.H. Harrison") AS PRESIDENT, countersigned by Secretary of State Daniel Webster, and by John Tayor, clerk for the New Bedford, Massachusetts district

Lot Number 103
Author HARRISON, William Henry (1773-1841), President
Title HARRISON, William Henry (1773-1841), President. Engraved document signed ("W.H. Harrison") AS PRESIDENT, countersigned by Secretary of State Daniel Webster, and by John Tayor, clerk for the New Bedford, Massachusetts district
Year Published 1841
Place Printed
Printed By
Description HARRISON, William Henry (1773-1841), President. Engraved document signed ("W.H. Harrison") AS PRESIDENT, countersigned by Secretary of State Daniel Webster, and by John Tayor, clerk for the New Bedford, Massachusetts district, [Washington, D.C., 4 March - 4 April 1841], issued at Philadelphia, 30 April 1841. 1 page, folio, ON FINE PARCHMENT, 14 5/8 x 11 3/8 in., original papered great seal of the United States at lower left, top edge with scalloped cut, elaborately engraved with two vignettes at top: one of a fully rigged, three-masted sailing vessel, the other of a lighthouse in a harbor with a port city in the background.
Comments HARRISON IN OFFICE: A "POSTHUMOUSLY ISSUED" SHIP'S PASSPORT FOR A DOOMED WHALING VESSEL A highly decorative ship's passport, ornamented with two fine marine scenes. The calligraphic text requests that an American whaling vessel, the brig Agate of New Bedford, manned by 15 men and captained by Peleg Cornell, be allowed "...to Pass with her Company Passengers, Goods and Merchandise without any hindrance, seizure or molestation..." The document was issued almost four weeks after Harrison's death. During his brief tenure as president, a small number of passports were signed in advance for the convenience of the local maritime officials who issued them. A few blank passports evidently remained unused after Harrison's death. Most officials stopped issuing Harrison signed passports at that point, and most were no doubt destroyed. But the frugal New Englanders in the New Bedford office, rather than wait for new blank documents, issued the present passport almost four weeks after Harrison's death. At his inauguration, the 68-year-old Harrison took the oath of office on a blustery, chilly day, Then, he delivered the longest inaugural address of any President, which took an hour and 40 minutes to read. Harrison wore neither coat, hat, nor gloves. Later that day he was drenched in a rain-shower. Predictably, the President came down with a cold and eventually took to his bed. His physician, Dr. Thomas Miller, diagnosed his condition as "bilious pleurisy." As his condition worsened, the signing of documents slowed to a trickle, then ceased. Finally, on April 4, a few hours shy of a month after his inauguration, he uttered his last words: "I wish you to understand the true principles of the government. I wish them carried out. I ask nothing more." Harrison's demise led to the first application of Article II, section 1 of the Constitution, whose provision for the succession of the Vice-President was subject to variable interpretations. Peleg Cornell captained the Agate on several successful whaling voyages, but in July 1843, under captain Vincent, the vessel and crew were lost in severe storms off the Cape Verde islands. Documents signed by Harrison while President are extremely rare as a result of his short term. It is thought that no more than two dozen such documents exist. Provenance: Mrs. Philip D. Sang (sale, Sotheby's, 22 May 1990, lot 40).
References
Provenance Mrs. Philip D. Sang (sale, Sotheby's, 22 May 1990, lot 40).
Estimated Price USD 80,000.00 - 120,000.00
Actual Price USD 80,500.00

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AUCTION DETAILS

Auction House Christies
Website http://www.christies.com
Auction Name Important Printed Books and Americana from The Albert H. Small Collection
Sale Number #2655
Auction Date May 18, 2012 - May 18, 2012
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