Stoddert, Benjamin

Future 1st Navy Secretary offers (with a whiff of desperation) to sell Maryland acreage

Price: $325.00 Special Offer - $275.00



Description:
(1751-1813) Pennsylvania cavalry captain, secretary to the Continental Board of War during the War of Independence. In 1781 married daughter of a Maryland merchant, and went into mercantile business in Georgetown, Maryland. President Washington asked Stoddert to purchase key parcels of land in the area for the nation's capital, before formal decision to establish the federal city drove up prices, and Stoddert transferred parcels to the government. During the 1790s, he helped found the Bank of Columbia to handle purchases of land in the District of Columbia for the federal government. In May 1798, President Adams appointed Stoddert, a loyal Federalist, to oversee the newly established Department of the Navy. As the first Secretary of the Navy 1798-March 31, 1801, he found himself dealing with an undeclared naval war with France (“the Quasi-War). He realized the infant Navy possessed too few warships to protect a far-flung merchant marine and the best way to defeat the French campaign against US shipping was by offensive operations in the Caribbean, where most French cruisers were based. Under his leadership, the Navy acquitted itself well and stopped depredations by French ships against American commerce. He established the first 6 navy yards and advocated building 12 ships of the line. Congress initially approved construction of 6 ships of the line, but following the peace accord with France, eliminated ships of the line and reduced the officer corps. His final years witnessed a decline in his fortunes: Stoddert lost heavily in land speculation, Georgetown declined as a commercial center, and the Embargo and War of 1812 halted American overseas trade. ADS, handwritten 4pp (folded sheet) 9 x 7 ¼ document, (Georgetown), November 2 1797, to fellow land speculator John Templeman detailing land holdings in Allegany County, Maryland (northwest part of the State) of Stoddert and different partners which he offers for sale to Templeman. There are some hints of desperation (“the lands are rated on the very lowest scale, and are certainly worth double in some instances & treble in others”) in his offer to possibly reflecting Stoddert’s often precarious financial situation. He offers all for discounted sum of $10,000: $5,000 in cash payable in 3 or 4 months, ½ the balance in (Chain) Bridge shares and ½ in (Bank of) Columbia shares, or, preferably all in Columbia shares. On the 4th page, Stoddert adds: “The best bargain ever offered in allegany County – Mr. T [Templeman] must not think of playing Yankee with me –I have come to the very lowest limits.” Lots of acreage is offered at a tremendous amount of money for the time! With typescript.

Condition: Very good, few slight age, burn & ink stains
Type:Document






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