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Description: LOUIS XVI
(1754 - 1793) King of France whose ambivalent policies cost him the support of Royalists and Revolutionaries, put under house arrest after his attempt to flee France, condemned by a tribunal for treason and guillotined with his wife Marie Antoinette. Louis was a strong supporter of the colonists' efforts to gain independence, providing troops, naval forces, and financial support. Fine content and superb association war-date manuscript L.S. with secretarial signature but approved by Louis "Connu" ["Understood"] at bottom,1p. folio, Versailles, Oct. 20, 1782, in French to Charles Hector, Count d'Estaing (1729-1794), the French admiral in the American Revolution who commanded a fleet of 31 vessels under the ultimate command of George Washington. In part: "...I have chosen you to go to the Place de Commerce in Bordeaux where you are to make known, in my name, how much I am satisfied with the loyalty and devotion which the merchants of my Kingdom have so eagerly shown me; I expect a new mark of their zeal; You will ask them to indicate to you those Merchant Marine Officers employed on their ships whom they believe to be suitable to contribute to the upholding of the dignity of my naval flag and the prosperity of my armies in a war whose sole object is the advantage of my subjects and freedom of trade. To all those Merchant Marine Officers who will be presented to you and whom you will consider suitable for the functions which I will reserve for them, I authorize you to promise, in my name, a permanent commission accompanied by all the advantages and distinctions which all those who sacrifice themselves for their country have a right to expect...". The document's association with the Merchant Marine is historically important: before his dethroning and execution, Louis XVI began successful expansion of France's navy and merchant marine; the government of the French Revolution would use these assets to increase France's coffers through trade, slaving, capturing enemy vessels, and other lucrative eighteenth-century maritime practices. Light toning throughout with moderate soiling and foxing along the left margin and small archivally-repaired tear at lower right, none affecting signature.

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March 30, 2011 11:00 AM EDT

Stamford, CT, US

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