September 23, 2021 10:00 EST

Books and Manuscripts

 
  Lot 32
 

32

[Business & Industry] [Fort de Chartres]
Manuscript Financial Document

A rare and early financial document regarding commerce in Illinois Country on the Western Frontier

Fort Chartres, (Illinois), December 31, 1766. Rare first of exchange financial MS. document, for £100 of Pennsylvania currency, issued to French merchant Daniel Blouin "for value received and place this same to account of your Adventure to the Illinois..."; signed by future mayor of Philadelphia, Matthew Clarkson, as an agent at Fort de Chartres, bottom right; counter-signed by John Jennings, of Philadelphia-based English merchants Baynton, Wharton & Morgan, dated June 6, 1767. Endorsed by Baynton, Wharton & Morgan on verso, dated June 24, 1767; additionally signed by Blouin, in French, on verso, dated January 3, 1767.

A rare first of exchange financial document from the North American frontier, issued from Fort de Chartres while under British control, three years after the end of the Seven Years War (1756-1763).

Fort de Chartres was the seat of the French, and later British, civil and military government in Illinois Country, from 1719-72, and was located on the east bank of the Mississippi River near present day Randolph County, Illinois. Following the end of the Seven Years War, and the signing of the Treaty of Paris (1763), it was transferred to British control on October 10, 1765. It was the last French post in North America to be surrendered under the terms of the treaty. This financial document records early commercial activity in the Western Territories, for a region newly opened for commerce under the terms of the treaty.

The Philadelphia-based English firm, Baynton, Wharton, & Morgan, monopolized the fur trade in the area of Illinois Country at the close of the Seven Years War, taking advantage of newly opened lands and opportunities to trade with the region's indigenous people and white settlers. They were considered one of the more significant commerical enterprises in North America at the time. In 1767, a year after this document was issued, they were awarded a contract by the British Crown to supply provisions and rations for Fort de Chartres, and operated their Western frontier operations from there. Interestingly, Daniel Blouin, recipient of this document, would go on to take over this incredibly lucrative contract from December 1767 to June 1768. He would later form part of a delegation (possibly with the aid of firm partner George Morgan) representing the French in the region surrounding Fort de Chartes. The delegation was sent to New York to negotiate with General Thomas Gage (1718/19-1787), commander-in-chief of the British forces in North America, for the purpose of establishing a civilian government to help represent French civil and trade rights in the now British-controlled region.

Baynton, Wharton, & Morgan's lucrative enterprise eventually failed due to a series of circumstances, but primarily stemming to their contentious and fraught business relations with the French people who inhabited the area, and with the commanders of the Fort, especially between Morgan and Fort commander Lieutenant Colonel John Wilkins. When their contract to supply the Fort was awarded to competing firm, Franks and Company, in 1768, they effectively lost any proftible means to operate in Illinois Country. An attempt to salvage their operations by trading with the indigenous peoples, via British Crown-sponsored agents, likewise proved unsuccessful. The failure of the Stamp Act to produce significant revenue for the British Crown (due in part to the resistance of the American colonists that would go on to ignite the American Revolution ten years later), led to a change in British policy, and expensive government sponsored contracts supplying native tribes with trade and gifts, via firms like Baynton, were suspended. Likewise, competition from French and Spanish traders, operating west of the Mississippi, as well as the waning profitability of the fur trade, pushed them beyond the pale of competitive relevancy.

This document is signed by Matthew Clarkson (1733-1800), future mayor of Philadelphia (1792-96), while serving as an agent licensed on behalf of Baynton, Wharton, & Morgan at Fort de Chartres. He would go on to be elected to the Confederation Congress as a delegate from Pennsylvania in 1785, but ultimately did not attend. He arrived at Fort de Chartres in early 1766 when Baynton, Wharton, & Morgan were just beginning to establish their regional empire. He composed a journal of his journey and time while west of the Alleghenies, providing a key picture of the time and place.

This rare financial document represents a fascinating record of commerical activity in a strategic theater in North America. We can locate only one other ever being offered at auction.

Sold for $1,890
Estimated at $3,000 - $5,000


 

A rare and early financial document regarding commerce in Illinois Country on the Western Frontier

Fort Chartres, (Illinois), December 31, 1766. Rare first of exchange financial MS. document, for £100 of Pennsylvania currency, issued to French merchant Daniel Blouin "for value received and place this same to account of your Adventure to the Illinois..."; signed by future mayor of Philadelphia, Matthew Clarkson, as an agent at Fort de Chartres, bottom right; counter-signed by John Jennings, of Philadelphia-based English merchants Baynton, Wharton & Morgan, dated June 6, 1767. Endorsed by Baynton, Wharton & Morgan on verso, dated June 24, 1767; additionally signed by Blouin, in French, on verso, dated January 3, 1767.

A rare first of exchange financial document from the North American frontier, issued from Fort de Chartres while under British control, three years after the end of the Seven Years War (1756-1763).

Fort de Chartres was the seat of the French, and later British, civil and military government in Illinois Country, from 1719-72, and was located on the east bank of the Mississippi River near present day Randolph County, Illinois. Following the end of the Seven Years War, and the signing of the Treaty of Paris (1763), it was transferred to British control on October 10, 1765. It was the last French post in North America to be surrendered under the terms of the treaty. This financial document records early commercial activity in the Western Territories, for a region newly opened for commerce under the terms of the treaty.

The Philadelphia-based English firm, Baynton, Wharton, & Morgan, monopolized the fur trade in the area of Illinois Country at the close of the Seven Years War, taking advantage of newly opened lands and opportunities to trade with the region's indigenous people and white settlers. They were considered one of the more significant commerical enterprises in North America at the time. In 1767, a year after this document was issued, they were awarded a contract by the British Crown to supply provisions and rations for Fort de Chartres, and operated their Western frontier operations from there. Interestingly, Daniel Blouin, recipient of this document, would go on to take over this incredibly lucrative contract from December 1767 to June 1768. He would later form part of a delegation (possibly with the aid of firm partner George Morgan) representing the French in the region surrounding Fort de Chartes. The delegation was sent to New York to negotiate with General Thomas Gage (1718/19-1787), commander-in-chief of the British forces in North America, for the purpose of establishing a civilian government to help represent French civil and trade rights in the now British-controlled region.

Baynton, Wharton, & Morgan's lucrative enterprise eventually failed due to a series of circumstances, but primarily stemming to their contentious and fraught business relations with the French people who inhabited the area, and with the commanders of the Fort, especially between Morgan and Fort commander Lieutenant Colonel John Wilkins. When their contract to supply the Fort was awarded to competing firm, Franks and Company, in 1768, they effectively lost any proftible means to operate in Illinois Country. An attempt to salvage their operations by trading with the indigenous peoples, via British Crown-sponsored agents, likewise proved unsuccessful. The failure of the Stamp Act to produce significant revenue for the British Crown (due in part to the resistance of the American colonists that would go on to ignite the American Revolution ten years later), led to a change in British policy, and expensive government sponsored contracts supplying native tribes with trade and gifts, via firms like Baynton, were suspended. Likewise, competition from French and Spanish traders, operating west of the Mississippi, as well as the waning profitability of the fur trade, pushed them beyond the pale of competitive relevancy.

This document is signed by Matthew Clarkson (1733-1800), future mayor of Philadelphia (1792-96), while serving as an agent licensed on behalf of Baynton, Wharton, & Morgan at Fort de Chartres. He would go on to be elected to the Confederation Congress as a delegate from Pennsylvania in 1785, but ultimately did not attend. He arrived at Fort de Chartres in early 1766 when Baynton, Wharton, & Morgan were just beginning to establish their regional empire. He composed a journal of his journey and time while west of the Alleghenies, providing a key picture of the time and place.

This rare financial document represents a fascinating record of commerical activity in a strategic theater in North America. We can locate only one other ever being offered at auction.

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