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[AUTOGRAPH LETTER, SIGNED, FROM JONATHAN DAYTON TO HIS FATHER, ELIAS DAYTON, REGARDING THE CATTLE TRADE AND OTHER TRADE, PROBABLY SMUGGLING, AROUND NEW YORK AT THE END OF THE REVOLUTION]
Elizabethtown. June 8, 1782.. [2]pp. plus integral address leaf. Folio. Old fold lines. Lightly soiled, slight separation at some folds. Outer edge portion of address leaf (about an inch wide) lacking, not affecting text. Small repairs to fold of address leaf. Very good. In a blue half morocco and cloth clamshell case, spine gilt. Jonathan Dayton writes to his father, Col. Elias Dayton, regarding the trading and movement of cattle during final days of the American Revolution. Jonathan Dayton, politician from New Jersey and namesake of the town in Ohio, was the youngest delegate to the Constitutional Convention and the youngest signer of the Constitution, being only twenty-six at the time. He was elected to several terms in Congress and held important political offices, in addition to dabbling in land and securities speculation. There seems to be no question that Dayton played a significant, albeit minor, role in the Burr Conspiracy, a plot to encourage the western states to secede and together invade Texas, thereby carving out an independent nation in the west. Though he was acquitted, this and other incidents led to poor public perception of Dayton in the later years of his life. In this letter, Dayton describes the way in which some of the militia are asserting themselves on behalf of a local farmer, Aaron Winant, serving as a guard for his cattle. In fact, there seems to have been a good deal of trade between the lines, with the war effectively over; and Dayton's statements about the New York trade and goods as well as cattle moving back and forth suggest Dayton was running a neat little black market operation. The letter was sent by way of William Shute (mentioned in the text), who served with Jonathan Dayton in the New Jersey militia. Dayton writes: "Dear Sir, I have some reason to expect dispatches from the other side for Gordon & Asgill tomorrow morning if any one can go for them. The twelve month men, a few of whom are now here, will suffer no one to pass but whom they all are pleased with & act rather as a guard & cover to Aaron Winant, in sending over cattle than in any other capacity. When cattle are to be sent, they either place a guard at the point or send an arm'd boat by way of cover; if a party goes down to catch Winant's oxen, the years men immediately secure their boat & say they have orders from Capt. Craig to seize & collect them all. By this means the trade is very effectually guarded & every one who wishes, prevented from checking it. "Hendrix has formed a plan to take in the New York trade & those interested with them on this side. The goods are getting ready in New York & will come out with in five or six days. He has been here this day to acquaint me with it. Cannot a party of about 15 men be sent down on Tuesday morning under Billy Shute? It will be necessary for the execution of Hendrix's plan for preventing the impositions before mentioned as well as for other good reasons. The expectation of an attempt from the enemy to carry off the cattle from the pastures along the different points should likewise have its weight. Shute wishes to come & I should prefer him to any one else. He carries this letter, & will deliver you a paper of yesterday. They seem to be of opinion on Staaten [sic] Island that Lippenent will be hanged in the city. The refugee news corps are all ordered from Staaten Island to Powles Hook & it is expected will move tomorrow. Two British regts. are to be added to the one now there for the protection of the Island. This will contribute much to the safety of the people situated along the lines."
      [Bookseller: William Reese Company - Americana]
Last Found On: 2013-07-20           Check availability:      Biblio    

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