[Philadelphia]: 1795. Unbound. This partially-printed parchment land patent issued to James Wilson measures 21” x 11”. It is signed by Thomas Mifflin as the Governor of Pennsylvania and Alexander James Dallas who was the state’s secretary. It bears three state seals: a 6” star on the front and two smaller rhomboids on the reverse. The patent certifies Wilson’s purchase of approximately 436 acres in Berks County. The patent is in nice shape; the tips of two of the star’s rays are missing. Very good. Item #009083
Thomas Mifflin was a champion of colonial rights in the Pennsylvania legislature and attended the Continental Congress in 1774. He was appointed as a major in the Continental Army and first served as General Washington’s aide-de-camp and later as the army’s Quartermaster General. By May 1776, he had been promoted to brigadier general and fought in the Battles of Long Island, Trenton, and Princeton. Some have credited Mifflin with convincing many officers not to leave the service during the early years of the war. Although a friend of Washington, Mifflin joined the “Conway Cabal” which surreptitiously, but unsuccessfully, attempted to convince the Second Continental Congress to relieve Washington and appoint General Horatio Gates in his place. After the war, Mifflin once more served in Congress including a term as the “President of the United States in Congress Assembled” during which time he was recognized by Great Britain as the first United States President. He later served as the last President and first Governor of Pennsylvania. Although wealthy for most of his life, in later years Mifflin spent lavishly and became an alcoholic. He died a pauper and was buried at the state’s expense in front of Trinity Lutheran Church in Lancaster. Alexander James Dallas played a leading role in shaping the future of the United States following the Revolution. An Englishman, he came to the United States via Jamaica in 1783, swore allegiance to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and opened a law office in Philadelphia. He became active in Jefferson’s Democratic-Republican Party and served as the Secretary of Pennsylvania, where he was apparently often called upon to fill-in when Governor Mifflin was on an alcoholic bender. He played an active role in the Whiskey Rebellion and led the anti-Federalist campaign against the Jay Treaty. He later served as the Secretary of the Treasury under President James Madison and is credited with saving the nation from bankruptcy following the War of 1812. James Wilson, an associate of Thomas Mifflin, was one of the most important, though generally unrecognized, of the Founding Fathers and a signer of both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. He was twice elected to the Continental Congress from Pennsylvania and played a major role in drafting the Constitution. Wilson is credited, along with Roger Sherman, as the proposer of the “Three-Fifths Compromise” which broke the impasse between Northern and Southern delegates and led to the Constitution’s eventual ratification. He was considered one of the most knowledgeable legal scholars of his time and was appointed by Washington as one of the first Supreme Court Justices. In later years, Wilson invested heavily in risky land purchases-as evidenced by this patent-and was financially ruined in the Panic of 1796-1797. After being briefly held in a debtors’ prison, Wilson attempted to evade his creditors by traveling to North Carolina where he died of a stroke at age 55 after suffering a bout of malaria. Legal battles of his land investments continued into the late 1890s, and ownership of the land referenced in this patent was not resolved until 1875. (See Pennsylvania State Reports comprising Cases Resolved in the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, Volume 7, pp 250-265.) A terrific document tying together the post-Revolution lives of three important American patriots.