Alexander Historical Auctions LLC

Description: JAMES JAY
(1732 - 1815) American physician and politician, elder brother of John Jay. During the American Revolution, Jay supplied medicine to George Washington and developed an invisible ink used by Washington, Jefferson and even his younger brother, John Jay. A.L.S. 1p. legal folio., Washington, Jan. 9, 1808, to an unnamed general. In part: "The Critical state of National Affairs, will no doubt occasion some embar[r]assment among mercantile gentlemen, let their fortunes be what they may. My son in law, Mr. Okill, is a prudent young fellow, and I presume has adapted his measurer [?] to the Times. Yet to Let him see that I am not insensible to the State of things, no unmindful of himself, I send him, by this Post, my note for $2000. If he should want the money, I shall esteem it a favor if you will get it discounted for him. The distance I am from N.Y. prevent me from offering him Cash... As to Public Affairs, I can say nothing worth notice... I am soliciting an old Debt, and not a small one, from Congress, and there is great reason to think I shall not solicit in vain..." Jay is referring to a memorial he presented to Congress asking for reimbursement for what congressional records describe as developing a "...secret mode of correspondence... was very useful in the Revolutionary War, and no doubt might be again..." Jay's supporters in the House argued that there was "a letter written by General Washington in this invisible ink; that Mr. Jay had never received compensation; that although tit had been used by various person, none had ever yet known the composition of it but himself..." Opponents argued that "it was absurd to vote away money for a thing they did not and could not understand; that there never yet was a secret ink made but a composition could be invented that would bring it out. " The House passed the measure in November by a one vote margin on Nov. 21, 1807 (Annals of Congress, p. 951-953). On March 2, 1808, Jay again petitioned the House, this time, "...praying the liquidation and settlement of a claim against the United States, for moneys advanced, and services rendered, of an important and secret nature, during the Revolutionary war with Great Britain." (House Journal, Wed., Mar. 2, 1808). This time the House did not approve or disapprove the measure, instead voting to postpone consideration of the measure "indefinitely. (House Journal, Wed. Apr. 20, 1808) The Senate did not consider the measure until 1813. On July 7, his petition was read in the Senate, "That, during the war of the Revolution, James Jay, upon his return from England, where he had been distinguished by his medical talents, became a creditor of the United States for a considerable sum of money; that, owing to delays on the part of the government, and the absence of Mr. Jay in attending upon General Washington, (to whom, as appears by the General's letter, he imparted a plan of secret correspondence, which proved to be of great importance in the course of the war,) the money due and afterwards paid to Mr. Jay was much depreciated. Usual folds, weak horizontal folds repaired on verso, lightly toned on verso, else very good.

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March 30, 2011 11:00 AM EDT

Stamford, CT, US

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