BENJAMIN LINCOLN'S COMMISSION AS MAJOR GENERAL IN THE CONTINENTAL ARMY. HANCOCK, JOHN.  1737-1793.  Document Signed ("John Hancock"), partially printed and accomplished in manuscript,

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Lot 1054
BENJAMIN LINCOLN'S COMMISSION AS MAJOR GENERAL IN THE CONTINENTAL ARMY.
HANCOCK, JOHN. 1737-1793.
US$ 60,000 - 90,000
£ 45,000 - 68,000

Treasures from the Eric C. Caren Collection

Online only

14 Mar 2019 ended at 17:00 EDT

New York

Lot Details
BENJAMIN LINCOLN'S COMMISSION AS MAJOR GENERAL IN THE CONTINENTAL ARMY.
HANCOCK, JOHN. 1737-1793. Document Signed ("John Hancock"), partially printed and accomplished in manuscript, 1 p, oblong folio (215 x 335 mm), Baltimore, MD, February 19, 1777, additionally inscribed by Hancock at the left margin, "This Commission Fifth in Rank of Appointments of this Date," accomplished and additionally signed by CHARLES THOMSON, docketed on the verso by Lincoln, ("Commission as Major General Continental Feby 19th 1777"), leaf creased with some separation at folds, tipped at corners to mount, light dampstaining at upper margin.

HIGHEST RANKING HANCOCK COMMISSION PROCURABLE: ISSUED FROM BALTIMORE DURING THAT CITY'S SHORT TENURE AS THE CAPITAL. Benjamin Lincoln was one of five officers promoted to Major General by Congress in February of 1777, the others being Thomas Mifflin, Arthur St. Clair, William Stirling, and Adam Stephen. Lincoln had been recommended to the position by Washington who had approved of Lincoln's efforts as Major General of the Massachusetts militia.

This document is dated from Baltimore, which served as Capital of the United States from December 20, 1776 to February 27, 1777, and may have been printed by Mary Goddard, or by one of the other printing offices that followed Congress in the flight from Philadelphia.

Interestingly, the promotion of these five officers inadvertently led to one of the most dangerous moments of the entire war. When news of the appointments broke, Benedict Arnold complained vehemently to Congress that he had been passed over in favor of more junior officers, resulting in his own appointment to Major General in May of that same year. Historians believe, however, that the sleight was not forgotten, and may have been a key motivation in that officer's later treachery.

Lincoln fought at the battle of White Plains, was wounded at Saratoga while commanding the New England militia, and in October of 1778, took command of the army in the south. During this southern command, Charleston succumbed to a British siege, and Lincoln was forced to surrender to General Clinton. After his parole, Lincoln returned to the army with the full confidence of Washington, and was appointed overall commander of the American wing of the Allied army at Yorktown. When Cornwallis surrendered on October 19, 1781, he refused to do so personally, sending his second-in-command Charles O'Hara. Washington refused to take the surrender from anyone but Cornwallis, so Lincoln was deputized to accept the surrender sword from O'Hara—under the same conditions that Lincoln had surrendered Charleston. Believed to be the best Hancock signed military commission still in private hands.
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