[FANNING, EDMUND. 1769-1841.]
BRITISH LAISSEZ PASSER ISSUED TO CAPTAIN EDMUND FANNING FOR PLANNED 1812 UNITED STATES NAVAL EXPLORING EXPEDITION.
BARCLAY, THOMAS. Document Signed ("Th Barclay"), partially printed and accomplished in manuscript, 1 p, 4to, New York City, April 21, 1812, certifying that the accompanying manuscript is a true copy of a letter from AUGUSTUS FOSTER, Great Britain's Minister Plenipotentiary to the United States, produced for Captain Fanning, with engraved vignette and red wax seal, page sealed with wax to Manuscript Fair Copy of a letter by August Foster, 2 pp recto and verso, folio, Washington, April 14, 1812, asking Barclay to afford protection to the Fanning expedition, both leaves creased horizontally, some thumbing to second leaf, with original envelope.
Remarkable document relating to the first planned U.S. Expedition to the Southern Hemisphere. From the fair copy of Forster's letter: "I have the honor to request from you such Protection and Good Offices as are in your power to bestow, in favor of an Expedition fitted New York principally for the purposes of Discovery in the South Seas, under the conduct of Captain Fanning, the Bearer of this letter, in Volunteer of 280 Tons and 28 men and the Hope of 180 Tons and 22 men. / The object of the Expedition embraces, as I understand, Commercial Intercourse with the natives of such of the Islands or Lands not belonging any civilized nation as he may visit and is sanctioned by the Government of the United States."
Captain Edmund Fanning was an extremely successful commercial captain who discovered three South Pacific islands. He was very eager for the United States to take the lead in exploring parts unknown, and was to have led the expedition Barclay and Foster refer to in these documents; the outbreak of the War of 1812, just a few months after this document was issued, canceled Fanning's expedition. He continued to lobby for exploration, however, and was instrumental in getting Congress to authorize the Wilkes Expedition in 1838.